Libyan President Mohammed Magarief said the controversial film that mocked Islam's Prophet Muhammad and ignited protests throughout the Muslim world had "nothing to do" with the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, and that he has "no doubt" it was an act of terrorism.
"It's a preplanned act of terrorism directed at American citizens," Magarief told NBC's Ann Curry in an interview that aired Wednesday. "Reaction should have been, if it was genuine, should have been six months earlier. So it was postponed until the 11th of September. They chose this date, 11th of September, to carry a certain message."
Magareif said the "high degree of accuracy" in which the attack was executed—with rocket-propelled grenades and mortar shells—is proof that the assault was preplanned, and not carried out by inexperienced protesters. He said he believes "al-Qaida elements" were involved but stopped short of directly accusing the terrorist group of planning it.
Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was among those killed in the attack, but Magareif said he did not know if Stevens was specifically targeted.
The Libyan leader said more than 40 people have been questioned in connection with the killings, but that it is too early to reveal the details of the ongoing investigation.
Magarief's comments came a day after President Barack Obama said the attack was more than mob violence, but stopped short of explicitly labeling the assault as an act of terrorism.
"There's no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn't just a mob action," the president said in an appearance on "The View."
On Tuesday, he denounced the anti-Islam video in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, calling the film "crude and disgusting."
Obama told world leaders that he could not simply ban it and scolded those who denounce anti-Muslim speech but stay quiet when the target is Christianity.
"The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, churches are destroyed or the Holocaust is denied," Obama said, in an apparent reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
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