Austin, Texas (CBS HOUSTON) — The widow of the American teacher who was shot and killed in Benghazi two weeks ago said she and her late husband knew the risks, and that she feels nothing but “forgiveness” and ‘love” for the at-large killers.
Ronnie Smith, who was killed on a jog near the site of the deadly 2012 assault on the U.S. Consulate, is to be buried in Austin Thursday. His widow, Anita Smith, talked with CBS News about the couple’s mission and faith in God.
“We knew beforehand that Libya’s not safe,” she told CBS News. “We still wanted to go somewhere where we wanted to bless the people.”
Smith said that the couple said that the dangers of living there faded over time as the two met “loving” neighbors and friends. Ronnie taught high school chemistry at an international school in Benghazi, and she said that the two had been living a “normal life.”
Smith said she does not think the decision to live there was naïve but instead was a journey of faith.
“We were doing this because we wanted to follow what God has for us, and that’s to show the Libyan people His love and His forgiveness.”
Ronnie was set to meet his wife and their son, Hosea, back in the U.S. to spend the holidays with family and friends, but on Dec. 5 he was shot and killed during a job near the couple’s home in Benghazi.
Smith said the loss is surreal, but rejected hateful and angry responses to the attack, instead saying that love and forgiveness are what she and her husband would have wanted.
“I hear people speaking with hate, anger and blame over Ronnie’s death, but that’s not what Ronnie would want,” she told CBS News. “Ronnie would want his death to be an opportunity for us to show one another love and forgiveness, because that’s what God has shown to us.”
She conveyed her message to the at-large killers, “That I love them. And I forgive them, and I have nothing against them,” and said she intends to return to Libya to mourn with friends, neighbors and some of Ronnie’s high school students.