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U.S. ambassador was targeted for death

  |   Sept. 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya killed last week was targeted for death, a U.S. official confirmed.

Stevens said his name was on an al-Qaida hit list in the months before his death, CNN reported Thursday.

The targeting of Stevens was confirmed Wednesday. Matthew Olsen, the National Counterterrorism Center director, told a Senate Homeland Security hearing that "I would say, yes, they were killed in course of terrorist attack on our embassy."

Top White House officials were to brief members of the House and Senate Thursday about the violent protests and other developments across the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The briefings are to be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and intelligence chief James Clapper.

Libyan and U.S. officials were to attend a memorial service Thursday in Tripoli for Stevens and three other Americans slain in the protests.

Libyan officials say up to 50 people have been held for questioning in relation to the attacks.

Protests against an anti-Islam film continued in various locations. It was unclear whether the Libya attacks were due to the film or had been planned before the film was publicized.

In Pakistan, soldiers used tear gas and batons Thursday to disperse demonstrators who threw stones at vehicles near a five-star hotel in Islamabad's red zone, Geo News reported.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the government would protect foreign diplomats "at all costs."

Kaira said the Punjab government should have stopped the protesters, who he said came from Rawalpindi and Murree, from entering Islamabad.

On Wednesday, the State Department advised U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Pakistan.

In issuing the warning, the department cited protests across Pakistan against the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan and continued drone strikes.

"Threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, and outdoor recreation events," the warning said. "Terrorists have disguised themselves as Pakistani security personnel to gain access to targeted areas."

The warning added that U.S. citizens in Pakistan "have been arrested, deported, harassed, and detained for overstaying their Pakistani visas or for traveling to Pakistan with the inappropriate visa classification."

While protests have largely quieted over the video, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday published provocative drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. The French foreign ministry announced that due to the threat of violence it would close embassies and schools in about 20 countries on Friday.

The cartoons prompted demonstrations Thursday in front of the French embassy in Tehran but no violence was reported.

The German satirical magazine Titanic announced it will publish an issue lampooning Islamaphobia next week with a graphic on its cover that could be interpreted as being the Prophet Muhammad.

One of the actors in the video that led to the violence, Cindy Lee Garcia, filed a suit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the suspected producer of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

The suit claims Garcia was a victim of fraud, invasion of privacy and misappropriation of her likeness. She says Nakoula dubbed over dialogue with anti-Islamic comments.

YouTube and Google are named in the suit because Garcia claimed they have refused her request to take down the video.

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