“Those are the things that Ronald Reagan taught us. You lead from optimism. You lead from hope. And we should never retreat in the face of terrorism.”On April 18, 1983, the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, was bombed by a suicide truck attack, killing 63 people.
-- Rudy Giuliani, May 3, 2007 at a GOP debate held at the Reagan Library.
Then, on October 23, 1983, 241 United States services members were killed when suicide bombers attacked a U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut. The Marines were part of a multi-national peacekeeping force during Lebanon’s civil war. President Ronald Reagan called it a despicable act.
The radical militant group Islamic Jihad took credit for both attacks. This group was led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who later became the number two leader in al-Qaeda, (or so we were told.)
There was little or no retaliatory military response to the attack on the American troops. The Marines were promptly moved offshore so that they could not be targeted any further. On February 7, 1984, President Reagan ordered the Marines to begin withdrawal from Lebanon. By February 26th, the retreat was completed.
The Beirut bombings inspired Osama bin Laden to believe that the US can be defeated by suicide attacks. In a 1998 interview, which was reported on ABC on May 28, 1998, bin Laden stated:
“We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions.”One thing we didn’t learn from Ronald Reagan is that the truth matters.
“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”