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Dr. Esam Omeish, the U.S.-based director of the Libyan Emergency Task Force that was set up during the revolution, briefed Mr. Stevens before he commenced his diplomatic duties in Tripoli and met him again on a visit to Libya less than two weeks ago.

The two discussed the nature of democracy in Libya, and Mr. Stevens proudly showed his visitor the new consular section he had inaugurated just days earlier.

“I enjoyed his zeal and enthusiasm for what was happening in Libya,” Dr. Omeish said.

Dr. Omeish, chief of general surgery at Inova Alexandria Hospital since 2006, added that with Mr. Stevens‘ death he had lost a friend.

“To me his death is shocking on so many levels,” he added.

The Bush administration appointed Mr. Stevens as the deputy chief of mission in Libya in 2007, a position he held until 2009 when he returned to Washington on other assignments.

Passionate about Libya

It was his role as the U.S. envoy to the rebels, from March to November of last year, that Mr. Stevens seemed to relish the most.

He recalled that assignment with passion in remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his confirmation hearing in March.

“It was a time of great excitement as the Libyan people first experienced freedom,” he said. “But it was also a time of significant trepidation for what might come next.”

He cited the need to consolidate control over militias as one of the many challenges the new government in Tripoli had to deal with.

“It is clearly in the U.S. interest to see Libya become a stable and prosperous democracy. … It would also serve as a powerful example to others in the region who are struggling to achieve their own democratic aspirations,” he added.

He also noted the “tremendous goodwill” for the United States in Libya.

“Libyans recognize the key role the United States played in building international support for their uprising against Gadhafi. I saw this gratitude frequently over the months I served in Benghazi — from our engagements with the revolution’s leadership to our early work with civil society and new media organizations,” he added.

Remorse and sorrow

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