Where Was Ronnie When The Bomb Went Off?
Thirty years ago, Americans were devastated by the news of a massive terrorist attack in Lebanon that killed 241 American service members.
Early on a Sunday morning terrorists drove an explosive-laden truck into the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers. Moments later 58 French paratroopers were killed in an attack on their barracks.
It was the deadliest single day for the U.S. Marine Corps since the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
Americans were shocked at the devastation, but at the time few grasped the significance of the deadly bombing. It marked the emergence of a deadly new form of terrorism never seen on this scale.
“It really was a watershed in international terrorism,” said Matthew Levitt, author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God. “This was something new.”
“The world we live in and what we knew of the future security environment was forever changed,” Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said at a memorial ceremony.
“It was a new way to attack the West,” Amos said. “It was a cowardly attack on freedom.”
Western authorities soon learned that the Oct. 23, 1983, bombing was the work of Hezbollah militants acting under Iranian direction.
“There was a recognition that Iran has more or less declared war on us,” said Michael Rubin, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. “It shook the Reagan administration.”
The Americans were in Lebanon as part of a peacekeeping mission in an effort to bring stability to war-torn Lebanon.
“They came in peace,” President Obama said in a statement Wednesday to honor the fallen. Obama called the attack a “despicable act of terrorism.”
President Reagan withdrew the American forces from Lebanon in the wake of the bombing… Terrorists the world over drew their own lessons from the devastation.
Al-Qaeda leaders have cited the bombing as an example of how to succeed against Western powers.
As an organization Hezbollah has continued its attacks on the West. The organization, which over the course of its history has switched between global and regional objectives, has returned to pursuing high profile terrorist attacks and is helping the Iranian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
“Now we are seeing a return to much as they were 30 years ago,” Levitt said of Hezbollah.
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