Thursday 20th September 1984
Twelve people were killed when a suicide car bomber attacked the US embassy complex in Beirut, Lebanon. A member of the extremist group, the Islamic Jihad – the bomber drove at high speed up the main drive of the consulate in a truck containing 500 kg (1,102 lb) of high explosive. The bomber was able to get so far into the compound by using a vehicle similar to others in the US embassy fleet, fitted with diplomatic plates.The attack followed two other bombings by the Islamic Jihad on American targets in the previous 18 months.The extremist faction was also behind a devastating assault on a US Marine base in Beirut nine months ago, which left 241 people dead.The Islamic Jihad – who are allied with the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran – said it had attacked the embassy because it did not want a single American to remain on Lebanese soil. The embassy had only been open six weeks after the previous one was blown up in April 1983, killing 61 people. Car bombs have become the weapon of choice for terrorist groups all over the world. From Beirut to Oklahoma City and London to Rome, entire buildings have been destroyed from car bomb blasts, and countless lives have been lost.