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FLASHBACK: April 18, 1983: U.S. Embassy Attacked in Beirut

A view of damages to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut
A view of damages to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut
On April 18, 1983, a suicide bomber crashed a truck into the front of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and detonated approximately 2,000 pounds of explosives. The massive blast killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, some of whom were CIA officers.

Unrest in Lebanon
In September 1982, the Multinational Force in Lebanon, composed of U.S. and European military personnel, entered Lebanon to help the Lebanese government maintain stability during the third phase of the Lebanese Civil War (1982-1983). Extremist groups demanded the departure of U.S. and Israeli personnel, who were on the outskirts of Beirut. Among the most active of these groups were Lebanese Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad Organization. The Islamic Jihad Organization engaged in a campaign of kidnappings and attacks, and claimed responsibility for the Beirut embassy bombing.

The aftermath of the attacks brought about swift action from Agency and diplomatic officials. Then-Secretary of State George Shultz tasked an advisory panel to investigate the security of diplomatic facilities overseas. The resulting report, informally known as the Inman Report, led to security improvements at embassies, the relocation of many CIA officers to more secure locations, and the creation of the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Diplomatic Security Service, which is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of State.

The Fallen
The Beirut embassy bombing remains the most lethal attack in the Agency’s history. Several Agency officers were lost; among them were a senior NCS officer visiting the embassy that day, the Agency’s senior officer in Lebanon, and a support officer reporting for her first day at work.  All of the fallen are honored with stars engraved on the CIA Memorial Wall at CIA Headquarters.

To learn more about how CIA honors its fallen officers, read these related stories:

The Memorial Wall: A Tribute to Our Heroes

CIA Holds Ceremony to Honor Fallen Colleagues

The Importance of Tradition: The Annual Memorial Ceremony

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 17, 2014 02:23 PM
Last Updated: Jul 10, 2014 12:41 PM