Florida Pastor Terry Jones' Latest Stunt Tied To Attacks In Egypt and Libya, Where U.S. Ambassador Killed

Terry Jones
Terry Jones

Violent outbursts against the U.S. tore through Libya and Egypt last night, with protestors in Cairo scaling the embassy walls and tearing down an American flag and armed militiamen in Benghazi attacking a consultate and killing the U.S. ambassador and three other diplomats.

Florida's hate-mongering pastor Terry Jones, of course, played a role in sparking the violence.

Update: Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, called Jones this afternoon to withdraw his support for the video that sparked the violence

Initially, the New York Times and other outlets reported that the violence was set off by Jones' latest stunt: proclaiming Sept. 11 as "International Judge Muhammad Day."

But the latest reports this morning say Jones was only a peripheral player in sparking the riots, which appear to have been primarily fueled by an amateurish anti-Islamic film produced by a California real estate developer.

That film, called "The Innocence of Muslims," depicts the Prophet Muhammad having sex and jokes about his ignorance. The film was made by Sam Bacile, a virulently anti-Islamic activist who made the piece after collecting $5 million.

There is a tie to Jones, the central-Florida pastor who sparked his own bloody riots in Afghanistan after promoting a "Burn a Koran Day" at his church and has more recently hung Obama in effigy.

The video's trailer only came to light in Egypt and then Libya, the New York Times reports, because a Coptic Egyptian-American activist included the video in a post and a newsletter promoting Jones' latest publicity stunt.

Jones initially seemed unaware of the film, the Times writes, but then quickly sent an email praising it for "reveal(ing) in a satirical light the life of Muhammad."

The attacks in Libya have devastated the American diplomatic core. The State Department confirmed this morning that among the four diplomats killed was Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to the nation.

"Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi," President Obama said in a statement this morning that also condemned the "cowardly" attacks.

Update 1: New Times caught up with Jones at his Gainesville church this morning; he refused to apologize supporting the video.

Update 2: The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff has called Jones to ask him to withdraw his support for the video. Gen. Martin Dempsey told the pastor could lead to more violence, the AP reports

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