It has been more than five years since the terrorist attack on the Benghazi, Libya diplomatic facility that left 4 Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead. After all that time, the ambassador’s chilling final words have just been revealed.
In a report on the testimony of Diplomatic Security Special Agent Scott Wickland this past Monday, Independent Journal Review reveals that during the attack, Ambassador Chris Stevens told him 13 chilling words::
“When I die, you need to pick up my gun and keep fighting.”
Wickland was Stevens’ personal bodyguard in Benghazi. He had arrived at the compound just six weeks before the attack took place. The trial for which he gave testimony is for Ahmed Abu Khattala, a Libyan militia leader who was captured in 2014 and charged with 18 counts of murder, attempted murder, material support of terrorism and destruction of U.S. facilities according to The Washington Post.
In six hours of testimony, Diplomatic Security special agent Scott Wickland stood as one of the sole surviving human links between the two attack sites and several victims.
As bodyguard to U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Wickland was the last person to see him and an aide alive as they tried to escape a burning mission villa. Wickland also was at the wheel of an armored car evacuating U.S. security personnel that ran a gauntlet of hostile fire to the CIA annex, only to have the attack trail them and mortar rounds kill two more Americans and wound one of Wickland’s close friends just feet away from him on a rooftop.
Wickland somehow managed to escape the compound, though by the time he was able to get out Chris Stevens and Sean Smith were both killed. “I didn’t know that we were going to make it out of there alive,” he stated.
When other U.S. agents finally found Wickland, they were shocked to see him.
“They all looked like they had seen a ghost,” said Wickland, describing agents’ reactions at finding him alive outside the villa. “My face was covered in soot, my eyes were black, my teeth were black.”
As the attackers retreated, the villa was set ablaze. Trying to escape the flames, Smith and Stevens crawled behind Wickland trying to reach a bedroom window. That was the last time he saw them.
“To this day, I don’t even know where they went,” Wickland said, his voice breaking up with emotion. “I was right next to him and then, that’s it.”
He tried to re-enter the building four times to get them out, but the time that he managed to get to the rooftop, he knew both of them were dead.
Reluctant to abandon Stevens but believing him dead and fearing a renewed attack, two carloads of U.S. security personnel fell back to the CIA annex, little more than a kilometer away. Wickland drove one car, and as he passed a crowd of about 90 armed Libyans, they opened fire , striking “the car hundreds of times.”
Once inside the gate, Global Response Staff CIA contractors were “shocked” to see the damage, he said. An explosion that Wickland suspected was tossed gelatin dynamite “ripped off” much of the rear of the vehicle, two tires were shot out, windows were spiderwebbed and the body appeared pocked by hundreds of bulletmarks.
Several other U.S. personnel were wounded in the attacks, though they were able to escape their attackers. Wickland did not even fire one shot during the attack, and since he left Libya has not gone back.
While his testimony alone does not provide enough evidence to substantiate a conviction for Ahmed Abu Khattala, it does give an idea of just how horrendous the attack truly was.
Chris Stevens came to a point where he knew he was going to die; that’s an extremely heavy weight to bear. But even with that, he still fought on to try and escape the murderous attackers. And even with that perspective, he was still courageous enough to tell his bodyguard that he needed to keep fighting on.
The fight does continue, albeit that the engagement is now in a federal courtroom in Washington D.C.