WASHINGTON // US ambassador Chris Stevens had hailed the Libyan revolt that overthrew Muammar Qaddafi.
He had served as envoy to the Libyan rebels from the early weeks of the February 2011 revolt, in which Nato aircraft helped rebels overthrow the 40-year-old regime and eventually capture and kill the dictator.
"I was thrilled to watch the Libyan people stand up and demand their rights," Stevens said in a video introduction released by the US state department shortly after he was appointed ambassador in May 2012. "Now I'm excited to return to Libya to continue the great work we've started, building a solid partnership between the United States and Libya to help you, the Libyan people, achieve your goals."
In the video, Stevens talked about growing up in California and graduating from the University of California at Berkeley.
He described how he fell in love with the Middle East and North Africa during a two-year stint in the Peace Corps, when he worked as an English teacher in Morocco's Atlas Mountains.
He went on to join the state department and served as a foreign service officer in Jerusalem, Damascus, Cairo and Riyadh.
The Arabic and French-speaking diplomat also served in Libya as the deputy chief of mission between 2007 and 2009, shortly after the US restored relations with Qaddafi's regime.
It was not immediately clear why Stevens was in the Benghazi consulate at the time of Tuesday's attack, or whether those who pelted the building with rocket-propelled grenades before setting it on fire knew that he was there.
During Qaddafi's reign, an Islamist demonstration of the kind that erupted on Tuesday night would have been unthinkable, but then so would the "free, democratic, prosperous Libya" that Stevens had said he hoped to help bring about.