Iran’s WarToday, the top brass of the Marine Corps gathered at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina along with veterans of the Beirut bombings to honor the fallen.
After a quarter century, too little learned.
By Clifford D. May
October 9, 2008
Twenty-five years ago, several hundred U.S. Marines were stationed in Beirut on a peace-keeping mission. On September 26, an official with the Iranian Intelligence Service in Tehran phoned the Iranian ambassador in Damascus and issued an order to have them killed. Twenty-eight days later, at 06:22 on Sunday morning, October 23, 1983, two suicide bombers struck.
The death toll: 241 troops, “the highest loss of life in a single day since D-Day on Iwo Jima in 1945,” Timothy J. Geraghty, who had been the Marines’ commanding officer, recently noted.
We know about the phone call because, as Geraghty also noted, it was intercepted by the National Security Agency. Unfortunately, this was an occasion — neither the first nor the last — when vital intelligence was collected but not translated, analyzed, and acted upon in time.
To plan and carry out the attacks, the Iranian ambassador tapped Lebanese Hezbollah. The Hezbollah operative in charge was Imad Fayez Mughniyeh.
The Camp Lejeune web site invites you to view this memorial powerpoint slide presentation.
Cliff May concludes:
On the same day [that Marines gather], Geraghty observes, at “the Iranian Behesht-E-Zahra cemetery in southern Tehran, there will be a ceremony at a monument erected in 2004 to commemorate the Beirut suicide bombers. In attendance will likely be some dressed as suicide bombers, chanting the standard ‘death to America’ and ‘death to Israel.’”
The good news, if there is any, is that Mughniyeh will not be joining the festivities this year. In February, he was killed by a car bomb in Damascus. No individual, group, or government has claimed responsibility.