Smoke billows from the Marine barracks in Beirut.
Just as we commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against our nation (the worst complex terrorist attack in world history), this month – specifically Oct. 23 – marks the 28th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack against us to date in 1983.
That day, a little-known terrorist organization – known then as “Islamic Jihad” (but would ultimately become known as Hizballah) – launched a suicide-bombing attack against the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing in a single explosion 220 U.S. Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers.
The Beirut barracks bombing would become known as “the bloodiest day in Marine Corps history since Iwo Jima.” And the Lebanon-based terrorist organization, Hizballah, would expand to become – not just a network of global terrorist cells like Sunni Al Qaeda – but a well-armed, well-organized Shia militia (perhaps an army) with a network of cells operating throughout the world.
Funded and operationally supported by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – and receiving operational support from Syria – Hizballah, according to former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, “makes Al Qaeda look like a minor league team.”
Indeed. But it gets worse.
Dr. Matthew Levitt – former deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department who today directs The Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, wrote this year, “With control of the Lebanese government, a vast social-service network, an army of soldiers and operatives, and an arsenal of more than 40,000 rockets, Hizballah has arguably never been more powerful.”
According to Levitt, “By 2009, Israeli intelligence estimated that, since the summer of 2006, Iran had provided Hizballah more than $1 billion in direct aid.”
Fact is, this information was being reported in a few intelligence circles at least two years before that.
Levitt adds, “In February … U.S. prosecutors indicted seven U.S. citizens – one of whom is a known Hizballah associate – for allegedly conspiring to aid the Taliban.”
Keep in mind, Hizballah is Shia, the Taliban is Sunni (as is Al Qaeda). The two
factions – though ideologically opposed and sometimes violently – do in fact frequently
coordinate their efforts against the West. And they are operating throughout the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and, yes, the Americas.
We’ve been at war with the Jihadists for nearly a quarter century; perhaps longer if we view Jihad against the West from the perspective of history stretching back to the 17th century when the armies of Kara Mustafa – capitalizing on the previous century’s work of warlord Suleiman the Magnificent – attacked Christian armies across eastern Europe.
The bad guys have known all along they were – and are – at war against us. After all, they initiated it. But it took us 18 years after Beirut and thousands of lives lost before we accepted the fact on Sept. 11, 2001.
Here’s hoping we never forget that horrible morning on October 23, 1983 — the Corps’ bloodiest day since Iwo Jima. And may we never permit the loss of those 231 American men to be in vain.