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Black Hawk Down


Black Hawk Down

Event Details
Primary OrganizationAl-Qaeda
Means of AttackMilitia assault
TargetU.S. troops in Somalia
LocationMogadishu, Somalia
Start Time Oct. 3, 1993
End Time Oct. 4, 1993
Victim Deaths18
Victim Injuries73
Attacker Deaths500
ParticipantsMohammed Atef (Facilitator) 1, Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri (Facilitator) 1,3, Saif al-Adel (Facilitator) 1,3, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah (Facilitator) 1,3, Mushin Musa Matwalli Atwah (Facilitator) 1,3, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (Facilitator) 1, Ahmed Mohammed Hamed Ali (Facilitator) 1,3, Mohamed Sadeek Odeh (Facilitator) 1
Narrative and Notes
ReliableOn a mission to capture lieutenants of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, a team of U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force came under heavy assault from local militia. Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters went down in the fighting, and U.S. foces inflicted heavy casualties on Somali fighters while suffering significant losses of their own.

U.S. military personnel killed in the fighting were Chief Warrant Officer Donovan L. Briley, Staff Sgt. Daniel D. Busch, Cpl. James M. Cavaco, Staff Sgt. William D. Cleveland, Sgt. Thomas J. Field, Sgt. 1st Class Earl Fillmore, Chief Warrant Officer Raymond Frank, Master Sgt. Gary I. Gordon, Sgt. James Z. "Casey" Joyce, Pvt. Richard W. "Alphabet" Kowaleski, Pvt. James Martin, Master Sgt. Timothy "Griz" Martin, Sgt. Dominick M. Pilla, Sgt. Lorenzo M. Ruiz, Sgt. 1st Class Randall D. Shughart, Cpl. James E. "Jamie" Smith, and Chief Warrant Officer Clifton "Elvis" Wolcott. Sgt. Cornell Houston was mortally wounded and died Oct. 6 after being evacuated to Germany.

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew L. Rierson, who took part in the battle, was killed two days later by a mortar.

The incident is credited for the eventual U.S. withdrawal from Somalia.

Al-Qaeda doesn't appear to have taken any direct role in the fighting, but several senior al-Qaeda fighters traveled to Somalia from Sudan to train militiamen there in techniques they employed against the Soviets during the Afghan war.

In particular, they trained the militiamen in the use of unguided rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, as an anti-helicopter weapon.

The tactic came as a surprise to American forces in Somalia, and RPGs were credited with downing the two Black Hawks.

The U.S. government did not learn of al-Qaeda's role in the attack until 1996, presumably from Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl.2,4
1United States vs. Osama bin Laden et al, indictment, Nov. 4, 1998, and updates.
2Bowden, Mark. 'Black Hawk Down.' New York: Penguin Books, 1999.
3L'Houssaine Kherchtou testimony, United States vs. Osama bin Laden et. al., trial transcript, Day 8, Feb. 21, 2001.
4The 9-11 Commission report, July 22, 2004.
Photo: U.S. Army photograph by Jim Lechner. Picture is of street in Mogadishu during the battle.
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Page last modified: 01-11-2006 17:51:18 ZULU