Published September 12, 2012
One of the American diplomats killed Tuesday in a bloody attack on a Libyan Consulate told pals in an online gaming forum hours earlier that he'd seen suspicious people taking pictures outside his compound and wondered if he and his team might "die tonight."
Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, was well known in the online gaming forum EVE Online, where he went by the name "vilerat," and was seen as a leader by his fellow gamers. Smith was killed along with three others, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, when the consulate was attacked by an angry mob.
But hours before the bloody assault, Smith sent a message to Alex Gianturco, the director of "Goonswarm," Smith's online gaming team or "guild."
“Assuming we don’t die tonight,” the message, which was first reported by Wired, read. “We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”
Within hours of posting that message, Smith, a husband and father of two, was dead. Gianturco, who could not be reached for further comment, got the word out to fellow gamers, according to Wired.
“My people, I have greivous [sic] news,” wrote Gianturco. “Vile Rat has been confirmed to be KIA in Benghazi; his family has been informed and the news is likely to break out on the wire services soon.
“Needless to say, we are in shock, have no words, and have nothing but sympathy for his family and children. I have known Vile Rat since 2006, he was one of the oldest of old-guard goons and one of the best and most effective diplomats this game has ever seen.”
On Wednesday, as word spread throughout the guild, tributes poured in for the foreign service information management officer who also was a moderator at the Internet community Something Awful, which is known for posting disturbing photos and videos. Nearly 500 posts to themittani.com, a site run by a the director.
"To your wife and children, know that the love of thousands of video game nerds, the world over, fall to your shoulders," wrote one poster.
"Vile Rat was a shining example of life lived to its fullest," wrote another. "A great man in all respects and will be missed by many. Not even 12 hours ago we were talking in jabber, he had made a joke about the lack of security in such places and crappy Internet. The whole thing seems surreal."
Meanwhile, President Obama vowed on Wednesday to apprehend the killers with the aid of the Libyan government.
"Make no mistake. We will work with the Libyan government to bring justice to killers who attack our people," Obama said, adding: "There is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None."