ECLECTIC RANT: Remembering the 1983 Bombing of the Marine Barrack in Beirut

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:30:00 PM

October 23 is the 29th anniversary of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, by Lebanese terrorists directed and controlled by Iran. The attack killed 241 American servicemen (220 Marines, 16 Navy personnel, and 3 Army soldiers). It was the deadliest single-day death toll for the Marines since the World War II battle of Iwo Jima. 

Hezbollah, a revolutionary Shia Islamist organization, had loose ties to Al Qaeda and to Iran. Hezbollah leaders were 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." 

Indeed, the evidence compiled by members of the intelligence community concluded that the evidence was "overpowering that Iran had been behind it." 

Imad Mugniyah was the person behind the bombing. He frequently traveled to Iran and worked closely with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its Ministry of Intelligence and Security. 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 to 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. 

On February 12, 2008, Mugniyah died in a mysterious car bombing in Damascus that may have been an Israeli counter-terrorist operation. Why would Israel have an interest in Mugniyah's death? Because, 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. 

Iran continues to wage war against the United States by using Sunni and Shia insurgents in Iraq, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan as its proxies.