J. Christopher Stevens, 52, had served as U.S. ambassador to Libya since May. He had been a supporter of the revolt that overthrew Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, and served as a U.S. envoy to the Transitional National Council in Benghazi during the Libyan revolution.
Stevens was appointed ambassador to Libya in May 2012. In a State Department video released shortly after he got the job, he said "I was thrilled to watch the Libyan people stand up and demand their rights."
He said he was excited to return to Libya to help build a partnership between the United States and Libya and help the Libyan people achieve their goals.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Stevens was one of the first Americans on the ground in Benghazi as the Libyan conflict unfolded. She said he arrived in the port on a cargo ship to start working with the rebels.
"He risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation," Clinton said in a statement.
Stevens spoke Arabic and French. He joined the Foreign Service in 1991 and was assigned in Israel, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Before the Foreign Service, he worked as an international trade lawyer in Washington and taught English in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Stevens grew up in the western U.S. state of California and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He got his law degree from the University of California’s Hastings College of Law in 1989, and an M.S. from the National War College in 2010.