US deploys extra troops overseas as protests continue to spread

Demonstrations over Prophet film now in 20 Muslim countries and likely to persist for days

Conceding that angry protests are likely to continue for days, the US defence department has sent extra troops to protect "personnel and property" at America's diplomatic outposts across the Muslim world.

The deployment was revealed as the Obama administration ordered an evacuation of all but emergency staff from Tunisia and Sudan. It advised citizens not to visit either country until anger over a controversial video mocking the Prophet Mohamed has died down.

Protests have spread to at least 20 Muslim nations and were reported in Pakistan yesterday, leaving US officials anxious to prevent a repeat of last week's tragedy in Libya, where the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three staff were killed at the American consulate in Benghazi. The Pentagon has "deployed forces to a number of areas in the region", said the Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta. "I think that we have to continue to be very vigilant because I suspect that ... these demonstrations are likely to continue over the next few days, if not longer."

His comments came as debate continued at home and abroad over the events that led to Mr Stevens' murder. In an interview with CBS yesterday, Libya's President, Mohammed Magarief, blamed the attack on foreign terrorists, saying his government has arrested 50 suspects with links to al-Qa'ida.

"It was definitely planned by foreigners – by people who entered the country a few months ago," he said. "They were planning criminal acts since their arrival." The security situation remained "difficult" for Americans in Libya, Mr Magarief added, noting: "It may be better for them to stay away for a little while."

Last week's deaths occurred when militants fired on the consulate with rocket-propelled grenades. At the weekend, al-Qa'ida issued a statement celebrating the attack, calling it "a great event" and urging supporters to "come together in one goal, which is to expel the embassies of America from the lands of the Muslims".

Back in Washington, the tragedy has spawned political debate. The White House continues to deny reports, first published by The Independent, that the State Department received "credible information" about a potential attack on the consulate two days before it occurred. However, CNN reported yesterday that a Libyan security official, Jamal Mabrouk, did indeed meet US officials in Benghazi last week and warned them about deteriorating security. The affair might have already damaged Barack Obama's re-election prospects, were it not for a botched reaction by Mitt Romney. The Republican presidential candidate was widely mocked for holding a press conference on Wednesday at which he said the President's reaction to the murder had influenced an "apologetic" Twitter post by a junior diplomat. It later emerged that the tweet was sent several hours before Mr Stevens died.

Mr Obama is anxious to put the affair behind him, and urged perspective in his weekly address on Saturday. "I know the images on our televisions are disturbing," he said. "But let us never forget that for every angry mob, there are millions who yearn for the freedom and dignity and hope that our flag represents."

Outside the Muslim world smaller, mostly peaceful protests continued against The Innocence of Muslims, the low-budget film which caused the controversy. In London, about 400 demonstrators gathered at the US embassy. Meanwhile, the three California-based men believed to be responsible for the film were revealed as associates of Zakaria Botros Henein, an anti-Islamic cleric from Orange County. They spent the weekend at the centre of a bizarre media circus. One of the men, Steve Klein, answered his door to reporters wearing only shorts and waving a pistol. Another, Joseph Nassrallah, who runs an anti-Muslim campaign group called Media for Christ, appeared to have gone into hiding. A third, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was wrapped in a bandana and taken for an interview by probation officials on Saturday. They wanted to ask about reports that he uploaded a version of the movie to YouTube using a pseudonym. Mr Nakoula, a Coptic Christian originally from Egypt, was convicted of bank fraud in 2008. The terms of his probation forbid him from using the internet and assuming aliases.

The backlash: global flashpoints

Afghanistan

Hundreds of university students gathered in the capital, Kabul, yesterday to protest against the film. Some burned a US flag and a poster of President Barack Obama. The demonstrators and criticised the US for a lack of action against the film's makers.

Pakistan

Police fired tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of protesters as they tried to march toward the US Consulate in the southern city of Karachi yesterday. Police and private security guards outside the consulate also fired shots into the air to disperse the crowds of demonstrators angered by the anti-Islam "Innocence of Muslims" video produced in the US, according to Associated Press reports.

London

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the US consulate in London yesterday to protest peacefully against the film and listen to clerics giving speeches.

Paris

Police have reinforced security around the American Embassy in the French capital after hundreds gathered outside the building to protest over the weekend.

Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices