To most Libyans, J. Christopher Stevens was one of them.
The U.S. ambassador had stood by them, as they rose up and toppled Moammar Gadhafi’s regime last year. What they cherished most was his unwavering optimism about their future.
The attackers, who claimed they were enraged by an American film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad, also killed Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information management officer, and two other Americans, who were not identified as their families had yet to be informed of their deaths.
Benghazi residents on Wednesday recalled Mr. Stevens as an affable and accessible diplomat. Many had spotted him stepping out of the confines of the diplomatic mission compound to buy a sandwich and meet ordinary Libyans.
Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur described Mr. Stevens as a dear friend who played a key role in helping the revolution, which first erupted in Benghazi in February 2011.
Envoy to the rebels
“He was in Benghazi throughout the revolution and was very instrumental in its support,” said Mr. Abushagur, who was elected prime minister by the Libyan legislature Wednesday.
He recalled Mr. Stevens‘ “calm demeanor and strong determination” as he carried out his duties during the height of the revolution.
Speaking at the opening of the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli on Aug. 26, Mr. Stevens said, “Relationships between governments are important, but relationships between people are the real foundation of mutual understanding.”
Mr. Stevens shared a warm relationship with the Libyan people.