The attacks against American embassies in Egypt and Libya are shocking, but historians say the events are not all that surprising.
Since the "Arab Spring” revolution began, many Middle Eastern countries have undergone social and political upheaval that's still ongoing.
Experts say extremists use the uncertainty to promote hatred and to further their own political goals.
Jeremi Suri is an author, University of Texas history professor and Mack Brown Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. He says the crushing poverty and widespread illiteracy in the region make violent manipulation, like the attack that took the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, possible.
Reportedly, the mobs were angry about an Anti-Islamic video on the Internet produced by a man believed to be born in Israel and living in the U.S.
"One of the difficulties people have in other parts of the world is differentiating media that comes from the U.S. that's personal from media that's government media,” Suri said. “I think some people believed -- and some people were made to believe -- that this video represented American opinion."
The professor also says it's important to separate the actions of extremists from the Islamic people as a group.
"There's no causal link between Islam and violence. There is a causal link between Islamic leaders who make use of Islam to justify violence," Suri said. "You have political agitators on the ground, as you do in many societies, who are seeking to take advantage of hatred for their own political purposes."
Watch Dr. Suri's full analysis of the events in Egypt and Libya in the video above.