Former U.S. ambassadors now living in Jacksonville share condolences after attack

4 American diplomats killed overnight in Libyan violence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two former U.S. ambassadors who live in Jacksonville are sharing their concern and condolences after four Americans were killed at the U.S. Consulate in Libya overnight.

"All of our hearts go out to the family of Ambassador (Chris) Stevens and those killed today in Libya," said Nancy Soderberg, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

"It's horrible for the family of all four people who were killed, not just the ambassador," added John Rood, a former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas.

Rood and Soderberg both revealed their shock and their sadness at the news of violence. They call it awful and something to remember.

"First of all, I understand (Stevens) knew the consulate was being overrun," Rood said. "He went back to try to assist employees in fleeing, and apparently was kidnapped, and in process of the kidnap was killed or suffocated. But it's really tragic."

"An American ambassador's first job -- we're all trained to protect those who work for the embassy," Soderberg said. "And that's exactly what he was doing, trying to make sure that his employees were safe. And unfortunately, they were not."

Rood and Soderberg served as ambassadors to places not as prone to violence, but they say this is a reminder of the risks to every person wherever he or she goes.

They also expect to see justice delivered for the families of the victims.

"In this case, we will find and track down and make sure those responsible are brought to justice," said Soderberg, who is now a Democrat candidate for Florida Senate District 4. "I am absolutely certain of that. And that's the right course of action."

"Once they find out who's responsible, and the government of Libya has pledged their support in finding out who is responsible for this and that justice would be pursued, I believe they will do that," Rood said. "They understand the seriousness of this issue."

The Islamic Center of Northeast Florida issued a statement saying it "unequivocally condemns the killing of American diplomats both in Libya, and the attack on the U.S. embassy in Egypt."

Dr. Parvez Ahmed, a member of the board of trustees at the center, said he can't understand what the attackers wanted to accomplish.

"There was absolutely no justification for what happened and what they did, and what they're doing actually is hurting the image of Islam and hurting peace around the world," Ahmed said.

He said there are extremists in all faiths, from all nationalities and ethnicities. And from his perspective, a Muslim should never act as the attackers did.

"This is not what Prophet Muhammad would have done," Ahmed said. "He was insulted many times during his lifetime, never did he seek revenge when he was insulted. The people who are doing this in the name of Islam and committing this kind of violence in the name of Islam must be brought to justice."

Ahmed said he believes the attacks are misguided and unjustified.

"So for this kind of anger or violence to be perpetrated against U.S. government in a foreign country is just deplorable," he said. "It just makes no sense, and it does create barriers to respectful dialogue."

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