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  • The 1983 Marine Barracks Bombing: Connecting the Dots

    Today is the 26th anniversary of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, by Lebanese terrorists supported and directed by Iran. The attack, which killed 241 American servicemen (220 Marines, 16 Navy personnel, and 3 Army soldiers), was the deadliest single-day death toll for the Marines since the World War II battle of Iwo Jima and the deadliest for the U.S. military since the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam. The suicide truck bombing, along with a similar bombing that day that killed 58 French paratroopers, was perpetrated by the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah (“Party of God”), which was created, supported, and directed by Iran.

    The bombing led to the February 1984 withdrawal from Lebanon of the Multinational Force (MNF), a peacekeeping contingent composed of American, British, French and Italian troops, that had been deployed to stabilize Lebanon after the September 14, 1982, assassination of Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel by a Lebanese faction aligned with Syria. Although the United States had mounted two previous successful peacekeeping operations in Lebanon in 1958 and earlier in 1982 (to facilitate the evacuation of P.L.O. forces from Beirut that had been defeated by Israel), the ignominious end of the MNF intervention brought disastrous consequences.

    The failure of the peacekeeping mission led to renewed fighting between Lebanese factions and the ascendancy of Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria. Moreover, the Marine barracks bombing, which was the deadliest terrorist attack against Americans before the 9/11 attacks, later inspired Osama bin Laden, who viewed the United States as a “paper tiger” because of its rapid withdrawal of peacekeeping forces from Lebanon and Somalia after suffering casualties. Al Qaeda members were later dispatched to Hezbollah training camps in Lebanon, according to the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 68). This assistance is believed to have significantly boosted al-Qaeda’s killing power, which dramatically increased by the end of the decade. Al-Qaeda’s 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded more than 5,000 people in simultaneous operations that used huge truck bombs similar those used in past Hezbollah operations.

    Although Hezbollah, a revolutionary Shia Islamist organization, had loose ties to Al Qaeda, a revolutionary Sunni Islamist organization, it enjoyed much closer ties to radical Shia revolutionary regime in Iran, which had mid-wifed its birth in 1982. Hezbollah leaders were inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution in Iran, trained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, financed by Iran, and often carried out Iranian orders. Indeed, the October 23, 1983 bombing later was discovered to have been ordered by Iran. The commanding officer of the Marine unit targeted by Hezbollah later wrote:

    Unknown to us at the time, the National Security Agency had made a diplomatic communications intercept on 26 September (the same date as the cease-fire ending the September War) in which the Iranian Intelligence Service provided explicit instructions to the Iranian ambassador in Damascus (a known terrorist) to attack the Marines at Beirut International Airport. The suicide attackers struck us 28 days later, with word of the intercept stuck in the intelligence pipeline until days after the attack.

    Iran, working through Hezbollah surrogates to insulate itself from retaliation, learned that terrorism paid off in a big way. It later used Hezbollah to capture 15 western hostages in Lebanon that it used as bargaining chips to secure arms from the United States in the Iran-Contra Affair in 1985-1986. The leader of the 1,500 man Revolutionary Guard contingent that was dispatched to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to train and support Hezbollah later became Iran’s Defense Minister. The Iranian Ambassador to Syria, Ali Akbar Mohtashemipur, who presided over the creation of Hezbollah, later became Iran’s Interior Minister and now is a close associate of Iranian “moderate” Mir Hossein Mousavi, a defeated candidate in Iran’s sham elections last June.

    The operational mastermind behind the Marine barracks bombing, Imad Mugniyah, frequently traveled to Iran and worked closely with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). The son of a Lebanese Shia cleric, Mugniyah trained with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah terrorist group in Lebanon in the late 1970s and became part of Force 17, Arafat’s personal security force. After the 1982 expulsion of Arafat from Lebanon, Mugniyah served as a bodyguard for Hezbollah’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah, and quickly rose to become a key leader of Hezbollah’s terrorist operations, earning the alias of “the Fox.” In addition the bombing of the Marine barracks Mugniyah was involved in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that killed 63 people, including 17 Americans; the taking of many American and western hostages in Lebanon; and the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in Lebanon, which resulted in the murder of a passenger, a U.S. Navy diver.

    Mugniyah died in a mysterious car bombing in Damascus last year that may have been an Israeli counter-terrorist operation. He reportedly had been involved in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, which killed 29 people, and the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center, which killed 85 people. He also may have played a role in planning Hezbollah’s July 2006 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, which provoked a 34-day war in southern Lebanon.

    Following Mugniyah’s bloody career helps to connect the dots in a surprising number of far-flung terrorist operations. But it is important to remember the major role played by Iran in many of these terrorist atrocities. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards continue to support terrorist attacks today in Iraq just as they did in Lebanon twenty six years ago.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to The 1983 Marine Barracks Bombing: Connecting the Dots

    1. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      Your article opens an old wound that hurts to this day and will never be forgotten. Iranian and Arab terrorists have visited numerous unprovoked attacks upon innocent Americans. The Jihad carried out by these various groups of brain washed Islamists is the ultimate evil. All their twisted souls will surely find their rightful place in Hell.

    2. Crazy Politico, Illi says:

      As a person who was there 26 years ago, I try and remind people that the "war on terror" isn't something new. Terrorism wasn't invented by George Bush as a way to ram through legislation, it's been around for a while.

    3. Frank Cermak says:

      I think about that day pretty much all the time. Semper Fi, Marines.

    4. M.M., USA says:

      My father was killed there. Thanks for remembering.

    5. Spiritof76 says:

      Just think. The worst president of the US, Jimmy Carter hugged those terrorists of Hezbollah and legitimized their brutal acts!

    6. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      The left just will never accept the FACT that some regeimes need to be destroyed. The left always believes that somehow they can TALK with these monsters. It never works.

      Anyone who studies any history knows that IRAN has been behind the majority of world terrorism in one form or another. Their country is a sanctuary for anyone who will create havoc and cause political instability.

      The dirty secret is that most of the middle east countries (except Syria) would love to see them go down. Historically there is no love lost between the Persians and the Arabs.

      Instead, you see no condemnation of fellow Muslims. The real enemy is the West. They have never gotten over the fall of the Ottoman Empire after WWI.

      Any reasonable person should by now KNOW that this thuggish theocracy will be a danger to the entire world. Remembers their leaders are fanatical psychotic zealots.

    7. Samuel Munster, Los says:

      They were not Lebanese Terrorist at that bombing but PLO terrorists. Lebanon is the only Christian nation in the entire Middle East. In fact, we wouldn't be having such a huge problem with Hezbollah if Ronald Reagan hadnt withdrawn from Beruit in the 80's. What we need today is an aggressive foreign policy against Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. And also to ally ourselves strongly with both Israel and Lebanon, the last 2 on-muslim countries in the Middle East.

    8. Pingback: The next war in Lebanon will be a big one « Sister Toldjah

    9. david Glatthorn says:

      The truth is that Reagan cut and ran. There were battleships off the coast that the U.S. Navy bragged could throw a shell the size of a Volkswagon directly into the Bekka valley. Osama Bin Laden learned the Americans would not retaliate even when its elite troops were ambushed.
      Before the Regan apologists start in, I would level the same degree of cowardice at Clinton for not unleashing the Special Forces on the criminal gangs that murdered in Somalia("Blackhawk Down"). There should be swift and overwhelming retribution against those who murder Americans and can be clearly identified.

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