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Remembering the 1983 Marine Barracks Bombing

If there’s such a thing as a Teflon nation, Iran is it: No matter how much terror the Islamic Republic perpetrates or sponsors against the United States, the regime manages to escape any significant accountability. Thirty years ago today, an Iranian-sponsored terrorist drove a truck bomb into the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut. Most of the Marines—on a peacekeeping mission—were asleep; 241 perished. James “Ace” Lyons, the deputy chief of Naval Operations at the time and truly a national treasure, has an important piece in today’s Washington Times recalling the episode:

The National Security Agency issued a highly classified message dated Sept. 27, 1983, which contained the instructions that Iranian Ambassador Ali Akbar Montashemi in Damascus had previously received from Tehran and then gave to Husayn al-Musawi, the leader of the Islamic Amal. Those instructions directed the terrorist group to concentrate its attacks on the Multi-National Force but take a “spectacular” action against the U.S. Marines.

I was deputy chief of naval operations at that time, and I did not receive that message until Oct. 25, two days after the bombing. That same day, I was called out to the CIA’s Langley headquarters because CIA Director William Casey wanted to see me. At the meeting, Casey asked me whether I would develop plans to take out the perpetrators if he discovered who they were and where they were located. I readily agreed.

President Reagan had the opportunity to hit the perpetrators and planners almost immediately, but Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger objected.

Fast forward 13 years: Iran dusted off its playbook and ran a similar operation in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, this time targeting American airmen. The FBI concluded that Iran was behind that attack but President Clinton ordered their report withdrawn and destroyed so as not to undercut his hope for diplomacy and a “dialogue of civilizations.” That dialogue went nowhere, and simultaneous to it, Iran accelerated its covert nuclear program and, during that dialogue, began experimenting with nuclear triggers.

There was more, of course. The September 11, 2001 attacks were chiefly an al-Qaeda operation but, according to the 9/11 investigation, Iran had provided assistance to many of the 9/11 hijackers in their transit to and from their Afghan training camps. Iran never paid the price for that either.

Lyons concludes his piece by noting:

At the time of these “acts of war,” President Obama was still a student at Columbia University and later at Harvard. He was probably more involved in absorbing the wisdom of the leftist agenda than on the tragic events carried out by Iran against our military. However, he is certainly aware today of the thousands of our military personnel who have died as the result of Iran’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also must realize that Iran has provided material and training support to the September 11 hijackers. Iran was found guilty of providing such support by Judge George B. Daniels of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in December 2011. Previously, Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found Iran guilty in the Marine barracks bombing.

Iran remains the world leader in state-sponsored terrorism. It is a rogue regime that will do anything to ensure the survivability of the corrupt theocracy. The mullahs have not spent billions to build underground nuclear facilities, as well as absorbing crippling economic sanctions, to simply negotiate away their nuclear weapons objectives. In August 1995, Russia offered to provide Iran with a 10-year supply of fuel for their nuclear plant at Bushehr for only $30 million. Iran adamantly rejected the proposal because Russia insisted that Iran return the spent fuel rods to Russia for reprocessing. Case closed. Iran, with enough oil and gas to last at least a few hundred years, doesn’t need nuclear capability for electricity.

With Mr. Obama’s eagerness to negotiate with Iran, it has been reported that he is weighing the possibility of unfreezing billions in Iranian assets in response to “potential” concessions by Iran. Such a move would be nonsensical. If Mr. Obama were to unfreeze billions of Iranian assets, then the money should not go to Iran, but to the surviving families of the Marine barracks bombing, as well as to the surviving families of the September 11, 2001, atrocity, as our courts have mandated.

Let us hope that Obama is listening and that he does not believe that sophistication requires sacrificing justice and accountability.


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