Terrorism in the 1980s
By Patrick Mondout
Terrorism against American targets did not start with 9/11 or even
Oklahoma City. Here is a brief look at major terrorist
incidents of the Awesome80s.
U.S. Installation Bombing, August 31, 1981:
The Red Army exploded a bomb at the U.S. Air Force Base at Ramstein, West
of Egyptian President, October 6, 1981: Soldiers who were secretly
members of the Takfir Wal-Hajira sect attacked and killed Egyptian
President Anwar Sadat during a troop review.
Murder of Missionaries, December 4, 1981: Three American nuns
and one lay missionary were found murdered outside San Salvador, El
Salvador. They were believed to have been assassinated by a right-wing
Assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister, September 14, 1982:
Premier Bashir Gemayel was assassinated by a car bomb parked outside his
party's Beirut headquarters.
Colombian Hostage-taking, April 8, 1983: A U.S. citizen was
seized by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) and held for ransom.
Bombing of U.S. Embassy in Beirut, April 18, 1983: Sixty-three
people, including the CIA's Middle East director, were killed, and 120
were injured in a 400-pound suicide truck-bomb attack on the U.S. Embassy
in Beirut, Lebanon. The Islamic Jihad
Naval Officer Assassinated in El Salvador, May 25, 1983: A U.S.
Navy officer was assassinated by the Farabundo
Marti National Liberation Front.
North Korean Hit Squad, October 9, 1983: North Korean agents
blew up a delegation from South Korea in Rangoon, Burma, killing 21
persons and injuring 48.
Bombing of Marine Barracks, Beirut, October 23, 1983:
Simultaneous suicide truck-bomb attacks were made on American and French
compounds in Beirut, Lebanon. A 12,000-pound bomb destroyed the U.S.
compound, killing 242 Americans, while 58 French troops were killed when a
400-pound device destroyed a French base. Islamic Jihad claimed
Naval Officer Assassinated in Greece, November 15, 1983: A U.S.
Navy officer was shot by the November 17 terrorist group in Athens,
Greece, while his car was stopped at a traffic light.
Kidnapping of Embassy Official, March 16, 1984: The Islamic
Jihad kidnapped and later murdered Political Officer William Buckley
in Beirut, Lebanon. Other U.S. citizens not connected to the U.S.
Government were seized over a succeeding 2-year period.
Restaurant Bombing in Spain, April 12, 1984: Eighteen U.S.
servicemen were killed, and 83 people were injured in a bomb attack on a
restaurant near a U.S. Air Force Base in Torrejon, Spain.
Golden Temple Seizure, June 5, 1984: Sikh terrorists seized the
Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. One hundred people died when Indian
security forces retook the Sikh holy shrine.
Rajneeshee Political Food Poisoning, September 9, 1984: In the
first case of bioterrorism in the U.S., the Rajneeshee religious cult
(followers of Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh) contaminated restaurant salad bars in
The Dalles, Oregon. The cult planned to infect residents with salmonella
on election day to influence the results of county elections. A test run
in September left 751 people ill or violently ill though no one died.
Assassination of Prime Minister Gandhi, October 31, 1984: The
Indian premier was shot to death by members of her security force.
Kidnapping of U.S. Officials in Mexico, February 7, 1985: Under
the orders of narcotrafficker Rafael Cero Quintero, Drug Enforcement
Administration agent Enrique Camarena Salazar and his pilot were
kidnapped, tortured, and executed.
TWA Hijacking, June 14, 1985: A Trans-World Airlines
flight was hijacked en route to Rome from Athens by two Lebanese Hizballah
terrorists and forced to fly to Beirut. The eight crew members and 145
passengers were held for 17 days, during which one American hostage, a
U.S. Navy sailor, was murdered. After being flown twice to Algiers, the
aircraft was returned to Beirut after Israel released 435 Lebanese and
Air India Bombing, June 23, 1985: A bomb destroyed an Air India
Boeing 747 over the Atlantic, killing all 329 people aboard. Both Sikh and
Kashmiri terrorists were blamed for the attack. Two cargo handlers were
killed at Tokyo airport, Japan, when another Sikh bomb exploded in an Air
Canada aircraft enroute to India.
Soviet Diplomats Kidnapped, September 30, 1985: In Beirut,
Lebanon, Sunni terrorists kidnapped four Soviet diplomats. One was killed,
but three were later released.
Achille Lauro Hijacking, October 7, 1985: Four Palestinian
Liberation Front terrorists seized the Italian cruise liner in the
eastern Mediterranean Sea, taking more than 700 hostages. One U.S.
passenger was murdered before the Egyptian Government offered the
terrorists safe haven in return for the hostages' freedom.
Egyptian Airliner Hijacking, November 23, 1985: An EgyptAir
airplane bound from Athens to Malta and carrying several U.S. citizens was
hijacked by the Abu Nidal Group.
Aircraft Bombing in Greece, March 30, 1986: A Palestinian splinter
group detonated a bomb as TWA Flight 840 approached Athens Airport,
killing four U.S. citizens.
Berlin Discoteque Bombing, April 5, 1986: Two U.S. soldiers were
killed, and 79 American servicemen were injured in a Libyan bomb attack on
a nightclub in West Berlin, West Germany. In retaliation, U.S. military
jets bombed targets in and around Tripoli and Benghazi.
Kimpo Airport Bombing, September 14, 1986: North Korean agents
detonated an explosive device at Seoul's Kimpo Airport, killing five
persons and injuring 29 others.
Bus Attack, April 24, 1987: Sixteen U.S. servicemen riding in a Greek
Air Force bus near Athens were injured in an apparent bombing attack,
carried out by the revolutionary organization known as 17
Downing of Airliner, November 29, 1987: North Korean agents
planted a bomb aboard Korean Air Lines Flight 858, which subsequently
crashed into the Indian Ocean.
Servicemen's Bar Attack, December 26, 1987: Catalan separatists
bombed a Barcelona bar frequented by U.S. servicemen, resulting in the
death of one U.S. citizen.
Kidnapping of William Higgins, February 17, 1988: U.S. Marine
Corps Lt. Col. W. Higgins was kidnapped and murdered by the Iranian-backed
Hizballah group while serving with
the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) in southern
Naples USO Attack, April 14, 1988: The Organization of Jihad
Brigades exploded a car bomb outside a USO Club in Naples, Italy, killing
one U.S. sailor.
Attack on U.S. Diplomat in Greece, June 28, 1988: The Defense
Attache of the U.S. Embassy in Greece was killed when a car bomb was
detonated outside his home in Athens.
Pan Am 103 Bombing, December 21, 1988: Pan American Airlines
Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, by a bomb believed to
have been placed on the aircraft in Frankfurt, West Germany, by Libyan
terrorists. All 259 people on board were killed.
Assassination of U.S. Army Officer, April 21, 1989: The New
People's Army (NPA) assassinated Col. James Rowe in Manila. The NPA also
assassinated two U.S. government defense contractors in September.
Assassination of German Bank Chairman, November 30, 1989: The Red
Army assassinated Deutsche Bank Chairman Alfred Herrhausen in
Don't miss our list of terrorist
acts of the Super70s.
We would like to thank the Office of
the Historian at the U.S. Department of State for the information above.