From Dominic Patten in Los Angeles & Nancy Tartaglione in Europe:
FRIDAY PM, 39TH UPDATE WRITETHRU: U.S. intelligence officials issued a statement today saying they now believe the 9/11 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya was a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack” and not sparked by Muslim reaction to the American-made film Innocence Of Muslims. The statement by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that it represented a change in the U.S. intelligence assessment of how and why the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans happened. A spokesman for Clapper’s office says U.S. agencies initially believed the attack had begun spontaneously after protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo over the film that lampoons the Prophet Mohammad. But as more was learned, officials revised their initial assessment to reflect new information that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. He said it remains unclear if any individual or specific group ordered the attack.
Following President Barack Obama’s address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, a right-wing Pakistani Islamist told Reuters the president’s statements “have caused a religious war.” In Tuesday remarks, Obama explained why the Innocence Of Muslims video has not been banned in the U.S., citing the Constitutional right to free speech. On Wednesday, Hafiz Saeed, who has been accused by India of masterminding a 2008 attack in Mumbai that killed 166 people, called for the filmmakers to be handed over “to us” if the U.S. can’t take tough action against them, Reuters reports. India has repeatedly called on Pakistan to bring Saeed, who has denied any wrongdoing, to justice and Washington has offered a $10M reward for information leading to his capture. (more…)