(Newsroom America) -- The deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya earlier this week was likely planned in advance and came as the result of "a serious and continuing security breach," a British newspaper reported Friday.
According to The Independent, the trip to Benghazi by U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the attack along with three other Americans, was meant to be confidential. The paper said Stevens and his entourage had only been back in the country a short while.
In addition to the deaths, the Obama administration is facing a worsening crisis in that a number of sensitive documents from the embassy have gone missing, the paper said. Information contained in those documents reportedly included the location of a "safe house" in the city where the embassy staff had retreated. That site came under attack as well, said the paper, indicating it, too, had been compromised.
"Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts," The Independent reported.
Furthermore, senior U.S. officials told the paper that the State Department had credible intelligence 48 hours prior to the attack against the Libyan embassy and a second U.S. consulate in Cairo that American missions may be targeted, "but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and 'lockdown,' under which movement is severely restricted," said the report.
Stevens had just returned from a trip to Europe prior to traveling to Benghazi, the paper said.
U.S. reports suggested the attacks were in response to an anti-Muslim video posted online by a California man, but the paper said they were more likely in response to a U.S. drone strike against a high-value al Qaeda operative, Mohammed Hassan Qaed, who was killed in Pakistan, and timed to coincide with the Sept. 11 anniversary.
"I am asking my colleagues on the committee to immediately investigate what role al-Qaeda or its affiliates may have played in the attack and to take appropriate action," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Neb., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The administration on Friday denied the British paper's report, saying there was "no intelligence" indicating the attack was premeditated, Politico reported.
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