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Homeland Security

1983 Beirut Bombings

US Embassy Bombing

On April 18, 1983, an unidentified driver crashed a vehicle laden with explosives into the main entrance of the United States Embassy in Beirut. Upon crashing into the Embassy, the vehicle exploded with a force so powerful that seven floors in the center section of the building collapsed. As a result of the blast and the resulting destruction of portions of the Embassy, sixty-three people, including seventeen United States citizens, were killed. Over one hundred others were injured. The bombing was the first large-scale attack against a United States Embassy anywhere in the world.

It was the consensus of the US Intelligence Community that Hizballah had orchestrated and conducted the attack with the cooperation and support of Iran, the Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS,) and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps(IRGC.) The complexity of the attack, the material employed, contemporaneous Iranian directives identifying the Embassy as a valuable target, and the fact that Lebanese Shi'a radicals lacked the sophistication and resources to execute the attack without the help of Iran, all led to the conclusion that Iranian operatives had played a significant role in the operation. While plans for a response were in the process of being formed, the U.S. government however took no military action in response to the embassy bombing.

Marine Barracks Bombing

In the summer of 1982, at the request of the Lebanese government, the United States agreed to establish a U.S. military presence in that country to serve as a peacekeeping force in the conflict between warring Muslim and Christian factions. On March 24, 1983, the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, received orders to deploy to Beirut, Lebanon in support of that commitment.

In the early morning of October 23, 1983, the First Battalion, 8th Marines Headquarters building was destroyed by a non-Lebanese, terrorist-driven truck, laden with compressed gas-enhanced explosives. This truck, like many others, had become a familiar sight at the airport and so did not raise any alarm on this morning. The resulting explosion and the collapse of the building killed 241 Marines, sailors, and soldiers, and wounded more than 100 others. The attack marked the largest single-day death toll since World War II. In a near simulatneous attack on the French Multinational Force, the death toll in Beirut rose to 300. The terrorist group Hizballah was responsible for both these attacks, as well as the U.S. Embassy bombing of the same year.

French Paratrooper Bombing

A few minutes after the bombing of the U.S. Marine headquarters in Beirut, a bomb detonated at the French paratrooper base killing 58 French soldiers. The terrorist group Islamic Jihad (Hizballah) claimed responsibility.

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