Claim:   The U.S. Ambassador to Egypt prevented Marines stationed at the U.S. embassy in Cairo from carrying live ammunition.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, September 2012]

I saw a post on facebook that is claiming that U.S. Marines stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt were not allowed to carry live
ammunition by the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and thus were unable to handle the protestors who attacked the embassy.


Origins:   In September 2012, Muslim protesters objecting to a film that mocked the Prophet Mohammed climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo and brought down the American flag:

The unrest in Cairo began when hundreds of protesters marched to the downtown embassy, gathering outside its walls and chanting against the movie and the US.

“Say it, don’t fear: Their ambassador must leave,” the crowd chanted.

Dozens of protesters then scaled the embassy walls, and several went into the courtyard and took down the U.S. flag from a pole. They

brought it back to the crowd outside, which tried to burn it, but failing that tore it apart. The protesters on the wall then raised on the flagpole a black flag with a Muslim declaration of faith, “There is no god but God and Mohammed is his prophet.” The flag, similar to the banner used by al-Qa’ida, is commonly used by ultraconservatives around the region.

The crowd grew throughout the evening with thousands standing outside the embassy, chanting “Islamic, Islamic. The right of our prophet will not die.” A group of women in black veils and robes that left only their eyes exposed chanted, “Worshippers of the Cross, leave the Prophet Mohammed alone.”

The protest was sparked by outrage over a video being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the US, clips of which are available on the social website YouTube and dubbed in Egyptian Arabic. The video depicts Mohammed as a fraud, showing him having sex and calling for massacres.

A few days later, rumors circulated online that the U.S. Marine guards stationed at the embassy had been hindered in their efforts to defend it because the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, had prevented them from carrying live ammunition:

Patterson did not permit US Marine guards to carry live ammunition, according to USMC blogs. Thus she neutralized any US military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the US Embassy. In this respect, she did not defend US sovereign territory and betrayed her oath of office. She neutered the Marines posted to defend the embassy, trusting the Egyptians over the Marines.

However, a 13 September 2012 memorandum from Major Alex Cross, Deputy Director of the Marine Liaison Office to the U.S. House of Representatives, stated that Marines at the American embassy in Cairo had been authorized to carry live ammunition:

The Ambassador did not impose restrictions on weapons or weapons status on the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG) detachment. The MCESG Marines in Cairo were allowed to have live ammunition in their weapons. The Ambassador and Regional Security Officer have been completely and appropriately engaged with the security situation. Reports of Marines not being able to have their weapons loaded per direction from the Ambassador are not accurate.

Fox News also reported that:

A Marine spokesperson at the Pentagon denied reports that U.S. Marines defending the American embassy in Egypt were not permitted by the State Department to carry live ammunition in a statement to Fox News.

Pentagon Lt. Col. Chris Hughes told the outlet: “The ambassador and RSO [Regional Security Officer] have been completely and appropriately engaged with the security situation. No restrictions on weapons or weapons status have been imposed. This information comes from the Det Commander at AMEMB [American Embassy] Cairo.”

Last updated:   15 September 2012


    Kredo, Adam.   “Pentagon Denies Reports of No Live Ammo for Marines.”

    The Washington Free Beacon.   13 September 2012.

    Weinstein, Adam.   “Claim Obama Administration Forbade Marines from Carrying Live Ammo.”

    Mother Jones.   13 September 2012.

    The Australian.   “Cairo Embassy Protesters Tear Down Stars and Stripes.”

    12 September 2012.