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We Must Not Forget...

On 23 October 1983, an event occured which remains one the darkest hours for our Corps and our nation. The event was the terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks/BLT Headquarters in Beirut Lebanon. 245 Marines, soldiers, and sailors were killed, and 146 wounded. In honor of our fallen comrades, let us look at some information regarding this attack. As Marines and as Americans, we must not forget...

Actual preparations for the bombing began in September of 1983. Iran played a central role and operational coordination was conducted from the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria. Syria was responsible for the technical aspects of the attack because only they and their allies had the intelligence assets and the technical expertise to determine the requirements and design of the bomb. Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) members were in charge of operational security.

After studying the U.S. compound, the Syrians decided to use a truck identical to the trucks delivering cargo to the Beirut airport. Those trucks passed routinely in front of the Marine barracks. The Mercedes truck used for the bombing was delivered to Beirut from an assembly plant in Iran, and the explosives used for the bomb were shipped from Bulgaria and delivered via Damascus. These explosives were composite-shaped charges built to have a "directed-enhanced" blast so that their impact on the building above would be greater. The bomb consisted of 300 kilograms of Hexogene reinforced by PTN (a type of high explosive).

The suicide driver of the truck received training at a terrorist camp in Iran. He was especially trained and brainwashed for the operation by Vietnamese and North Korean advisers, and taught special driving techniques by Bulgarian and former East German instructors. The driver was then taken to a camp run by Syrian intelligence, until the day of the attack. On the day of the attack, the driver was given tea and drug laced cookies after prayer.

The drugged cookies were administered by an Iranian protege of the Abu Nidal terrorist organization, who had received "special training in the techniques of mind control" from the former Soviet KGB. This Iranian, known as Ibrahim al-Nadhir, emerged as the primary torturer of Western hostages in the mid-1980s.

The go ahead for the operation was given by Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad, who in fact made some low-key inspection visits to Lebanon in a black Mercedes. On the day of the attack, there were approximately 120 former Soviet Union military advisers permanently deployed to the Beirut suburbs, providing assistance and guidance in all aspects of the fighting against the multinational peacekeeping forces then deployed to Beirut. It has been learned that at least 50 Soviet officers were present in the immediate area of the suicide driver's route.

The explosion which ripped through the Marine's barracks at 6:17 am, was determined by FBI forensic investigators to be [at that time], "the single largest non-nuclear explosion on earth since World War II." It is interesting to note that the bomb composition used in this devastating attack, would later be the same as that used in the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City in February 1993. As Marines, let us not forget...

(Source: Yossef Bodansky, Target America: Terrorism in the U.S. Today, Copyright 1993)

About the author:

Yossef Bodansky is the Director of the Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US Congress, as well as a contributing editor of "Defense and Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy." He has appeared on the "Lehrer News Hour, McLaughlin, Larry King, The 700 Club, Charlie Rose" and the major TV news networks.

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