4 Decades of Worldwide Terrorism

Feb. 1, 2002

The State Department released a chronology Oct. 31 that was prepared by the Office of the Historian in the Bureau of Public Affairs as a general listing of major terror events in the period 1961 through 2001. As with the original listing, this extract is not held out as a complete or comprehensive account of all terrorist incidents during these years.


First US Aircraft Hijacked, May 1, 1961: Puerto Rican-born Antuilo Ramierez Ortiz forced at gunpoint a National Airlines airplane to fly to Havana, where he was given asylum.

Ambassador to Guatemala Assassinated, Aug. 28, 1968: US Ambassador to Guatemala John Gordon Mein was murdered by a rebel faction when gunmen forced his official car off the road in Guatemala City and raked the vehicle with gunfire.

Ambassador to Brazil Kidnapped, Sept. 3, 1969: US Ambassador to Brazil Charles Burke Elbrick was kidnapped by the Marxist revolutionary group MR8.

US Agency for International Development Advisor Kidnapped, July 31, 1970: In Montevideo, Uruguay, the Tupamaros terrorist group kidnapped USAID police advisor Dan Mitrione; his body was found Aug. 10.

“Bloody Friday,” July 21, 1972: Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb attacks killed 11 people and injured 130 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Ten days later, three IRA car bomb attacks in the village of Claudy left six dead.

Munich Olympic Massacre, Sept. 5, 1972: Eight Palestinian “Black September” terrorists seized Israeli athletes in the Olympic Village in Munich, West Germany.

Ambassador to Sudan Assassinated, March 2, 1973: US Ambassador to Sudan Cleo A. Noel and other diplomats were assassinated at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum by members of the Black September organization.

Consul General in Mexico Kidnapped, May 4, 1973: US Consul General in Guadalajara, Terrence Leonhardy, was kidnapped by members of the People’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Domestic Terrorism, Jan. 27-29, 1975: Puerto Rican nationalists bombed a Wall Street bar, killing four and injuring 60; two days later, the Weather Underground claims responsibility for an explosion in a bathroom at the US Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Entebbe Hostage Crisis, June 27, 1976: Members of the Baader-Meinhof Group and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) seized an Air France airliner and its 258 passengers. They forced the airplane to land in Uganda, where on July 3 Israeli commandos successfully rescued the passengers.

Assassination of Former Chilean Diplomat, Sept. 21, 1976: In Washington, D.C., exiled Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier was killed by a car bomb.

Kidnapping of Italian Prime Minister, March 16, 1978: Premier Aldo Moro was seized by the Red Brigade and assassinated 55 days later.

Iran Hostage Crisis, Nov. 4, 1979: After President Carter agreed to admit the Shah of Iran into the US, Iranian radicals seized the US Embassy in Tehran and took 66 American diplomats hostage. Thirteen hostages were soon released, but the remaining 53 were held until their release Jan. 20, 1981.

Grand Mosque Seizure, Nov. 20, 1979: 200 Islamic terrorists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, taking hundreds of pilgrims hostage. Saudi and French security forces retook the shrine after an intense battle in which some 250 people were killed and 600 wounded.

US Installation Bombing, Aug. 31, 1981: The Red Army exploded a bomb at the US air base at Ramstein, West Germany.

Assassination of Egyptian President, Oct. 6, 1981: Soldiers who were secretly members of the Takfir WalHajira sect attacked and killed Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during a troop review.

Murder of Missionaries, Dec. 4, 1981: Three American nuns and one lay missionary were found murdered outside San Salvador, El Salvador. They were believed to have been assassinated by a rightwing death squad.

Assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister, Sept. 14, 1982: Premier Bashir Gemayel was assassinated by a car bomb parked outside his party’s Beirut headquarters.


Bombing of US Embassy in Beirut, April 18, 1983: Sixtythree people, including the CIA’s Middle East director, were killed and 120 were injured in a 400pound suicide truckbomb attack on the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

Naval Officer Assassinated in El Salvador, May 25, 1983: A US Navy officer was assassinated by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.

North Korean Hit Squad, Oct. 9, 1983: North Korean agents blew up a delegation from South Korea in Rangoon, Burma, killing 21 persons and injuring 48.

Bombing of Marine Barracks, Beirut, Oct. 23, 1983: Simultaneous suicide truckbomb attacks were made on American and French compounds in Beirut, Lebanon. A 12,000pound bomb destroyed the US compound, killing 242 Americans, while 58 French troops were killed when a 400pound device destroyed a French base. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

Naval Officer Assassinated in Greece, Nov. 15, 1983: A US Navy officer was shot by the 17 November terrorist group in Athens, Greece, while his car was stopped at a traffic light.

Kidnapping of Embassy Official, March 16, 1984: The Islamic Jihad kidnapped and later murdered political officer William Buckley in Beirut, Lebanon. Other US citizens not connected to the US government were seized over a succeeding twoyear period.

Restaurant Bombing, April 12, 1984: Eighteen US servicemen were killed and 83 people were injured in a bomb attack on a restaurant near a US air base in Torrejon, Spain. Responsibility was claimed by Hezbollah.

Golden Temple Seizure, June 5, 1984: After Sikh terrorists seized the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, 100 people died when Indian security forces retook the Sikh holy shrine.

Assassination of Prime Minister Gandhi, Oct. 31, 1984: The Indian premier [Indira Gandhi] was shot to death by members of her security force.

TWA Hijacking, June 14, 1985: A Trans World Airlines flight was hijacked en route to Rome from Athens by two Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists and forced to fly to Beirut. The eight crew members and 145 passengers were held for 17 days, during which one American hostage, a US Navy sailor, was murdered. After being flown twice to Algiers, the aircraft was returned to Beirut after Israel released 435 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.

Air India Bombing, June 23, 1985: A bomb destroyed an Air India Boeing 747 over the Atlantic, killing all 329 people aboard. Both Sikh and Kashmiri terrorists were blamed for the attack.

Soviet Diplomats Kidnapped, Sept. 30, 1985: In Beirut, Lebanon, Sunni terrorists kidnapped four Soviet diplomats. One was killed, and three were later released.

Achille Lauro Hijacking, Oct. 7, 1985: Four Palestinian Liberation Front terrorists seized the Italian cruise liner in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, taking more than 700 hostages. One US passenger was murdered before the Egyptian government offered the terrorists safe haven in return for the hostages’ freedom.

Egyptian Airliner Hijacking, Nov. 23, 1985: An EgyptAir airplane bound from Athens to Malta and carrying several US citizens was hijacked by the Abu Nidal group.


Aircraft Bombing in Greece, March 30, 1986: A Palestinian splinter group detonated a bomb as TWA Flight 840 approached Athens Airport, killing four US citizens.

Berlin Discotheque Bombing, April 5, 1986: Two US soldiers were killed and 79 American servicemen were injured in a Libyan bomb attack on a nightclub in West Berlin. In retaliation, US military jets bombed targets in and around Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya.

Kimpo Airport Bombing, Sept. 14, 1986: North Korean agents detonated an explosive device at Seoul’s Kimpo Airport, killing five persons and injuring 29 others.

Bus Attack, April 24, 1987: Sixteen US servicemen riding in a Greek air force bus near Athens were injured in an apparent bombing attack, carried out by the revolutionary organization known as 17 November.

Downing of Airliner, Nov. 29, 1987: North Korean agents planted a bomb aboard Korean Air Lines Flight 858, which subsequently crashed into the Indian Ocean.

Servicemen’s Bar Attack, Dec. 26, 1987: Catalan separatists bombed a Barcelona bar frequented by US servicemen, resulting in the death of one US citizen.

Kidnapping of William Higgins, Feb. 17, 1988: US Marine Corps Lt. Col. W. Higgins was kidnapped and murdered by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group while serving with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) in southern Lebanon.

Naples USO Attack, April 14, 1988: The Organization of Jihad Brigades exploded a car bomb outside a USO Club in Naples, Italy, killing one US sailor.

Attack on US Diplomat in Greece, June 28, 1988: The defense attaché of the US Embassy in Greece was killed when a car bomb was detonated outside his home in Athens.

Pan Am 103 Bombing, Dec. 21, 1988: Pan American Airlines Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, by a bomb believed to have been placed on the aircraft in Frankfurt, West Germany, by Libyan terrorists. All 259 people on board were killed.


Assassination of US Army Officer, April 21, 1989: The New People’s Army (NPA) assassinated Col. James Rowe in Manila. The NPA also assassinated two US government defense contractors in September.

US Embassy Bombed in Peru, Jan. 15, 1990: The Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) bombed the US Embassy in Lima, Peru.

US Soldiers Assassinated in the Philippines, May 13, 1990: The NPA killed two US Air Force personnel near Clark Air Base in the Philippines.

Attempted Iraqi Attacks on US Posts, Jan. 18-19, 1991: Iraqi agents planted bombs at the US ambassador to Indonesia’s home residence and at the US Information Service library in Manila.

Kidnapping of US Businessmen in the Philippines, Jan. 17-21, 1992: A senior official of the corporation Philippine Geothermal was kidnapped in Manila by the Red Scorpion Group, and two US businessmen were seized independently by the National Liberation Army and by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, March 17, 1992: Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a blast that leveled the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, causing the deaths of 29 and wounding 242.

World Trade Center Bombing, Feb. 26, 1993: The World Trade Center in New York City was badly damaged when a car bomb planted by Islamic terrorists exploded in an underground garage. The bomb left six people dead and 1,000 injured. The men carrying out the attack were followers of Umar Abd alRahman, an Egyptian cleric who preached in the New York City area.

Attempted Assassination of President Bush by Iraqi Agents, April 14, 1993: The Iraqi intelligence service attempted to assassinate former US President George Bush during a visit to Kuwait. In retaliation, the US launched a cruise missile attack two months later on the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Hebron Massacre, Feb. 25, 1994: Jewish rightwing extremist and US citizen Baruch Goldstein machine-gunned Moslem worshipers at a mosque in the West Bank town of Hebron, killing 29 and wounding about 150.

FARC Hostagetaking, Sept. 23, 1994: FARC rebels kidnapped US citizen Thomas Hargrove in Colombia.

Air France Hijacking, Dec. 24, 1994: Members of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) seized an Air France flight. The four terrorists were killed during the rescue effort.


Attack on US Diplomats in Pakistan, March 8, 1995: Two unidentified gunmen killed two US diplomats and wounded a third in Karachi, Pakistan.

Tokyo Subway Station Attack, March 20, 1995: Twelve persons were killed and 5,700 were injured in a Sarin nerve gas attack on a crowded subway station in the center of Tokyo. A similar attack occurred nearly simultaneously in the Yokohama subway system. The Aum Shinrikyu cult was blamed for the attacks.

Bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995: Rightwing extremists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols destroyed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City with a massive truck bomb that killed 166 and injured hundreds more in what was up to then the largest terrorist attack on American soil.

Kashmiri Hostagetaking, July 4, 1995: In India, six foreigners, including two US citizens, were taken hostage by AlFaran, a Kashmiri separatist group. One non-US hostage was later found beheaded.

Jerusalem Bus Attack, Aug. 21, 1995: Hamas claimed responsibility for the detonation of a bomb that killed six and injured over 100 persons, including several US citizens.

Attack on US Embassy in Moscow, Sept. 13, 1995: A rocketpropelled grenade was fired through the window of the US Embassy in Moscow, ostensibly in retaliation for US strikes on Serb positions in Bosnia.

Saudi Military Installation Attack, Nov. 13, 1995: The Islamic Movement of Change planted a bomb in a Riyadh military compound that killed one US citizen, several foreign national employees of the US government, and more than 40 others.

Egyptian Embassy Attack, Nov. 19, 1995: A suicide bomber drove a vehicle into the Egyptian Embassy compound in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing at least 16 and injuring 60 persons. Three militant Islamic groups claimed responsibility.


IRA Bombing, Feb. 9, 1996: An Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb detonated in London, killing two persons and wounding more than 100 others, including two US citizens.

Hamas Bus Attack, Feb. 26, 1996: In Jerusalem, a suicide bomber blew up a bus, killing 26 persons, including three US citizens, and injuring some 80 persons, including three other US citizens.

Dizengoff Center Bombing, March 4, 1996: Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) both claimed responsibility for a bombing outside of Tel Aviv’s largest shopping mall that killed 20 persons and injured 75 others, including two US citizens.

Manchester Truck Bombing, June 15, 1996: An IRA truck bomb detonated at a Manchester, UK, shopping center, wounding 206 persons, including two German tourists, and caused extensive property damage.

Khobar Towers Bombing, June 25, 1996: A fuel truck carrying a bomb exploded outside the US military’s Khobar Towers housing facility in Dhahran, killing 19 US military personnel and wounding 515 persons, including 240 US personnel. Several groups claimed responsibility for the attack.

ETA Bombing, July 20, 1996: A bomb exploded at Tarragona International Airport in Reus, Spain, wounding 35 persons, including British and Irish tourists. The Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) organization was suspected.

Bombing of Archbishop of Oran, Aug. 1, 1996: A bomb exploded at the home of the French archbishop of Oran, killing him and his chauffeur. The attack occurred after the archbishop’s meeting with the French foreign minister. The Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) is suspected.

PUK Kidnapping, Sept. 13, 1996: In Iraq, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) militants kidnapped four French workers for Pharmaciens Sans Frontieres, a Canadian United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) official, and two Iraqis.

Paris Subway Explosion, Dec. 3, 1996: A bomb exploded aboard a Paris subway train as it arrived at the Port Royal station, killing two French nationals, a Moroccan, and a Canadian and injuring 86 persons. Among those injured were one US citizen and a Canadian. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but Algerian extremists are suspected.

Abduction of US Citizen by FARC, Dec. 11, 1996: Five armed men claiming to be members of the FARC kidnapped and later killed a US geologist at a methane gas exploration site in La Guajira Department.

Tupac Amaru Seizure of Diplomats, Dec. 17, 1996: Twentythree members of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) took several hundred people hostage at a party given at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima, Peru. Among the hostages were several US officials, foreign ambassadors and other diplomats, Peruvian government officials, and Japanese businessmen. The group demanded the release of all MRTA members in prison and safe passage for them and the hostage-takers. The terrorists released most of the hostages in December but held 81 Peruvians and Japanese citizens for several months.


Egyptian Letter Bombs, Jan. 2-13, 1997: A series of letter bombs with Alexandria, Egypt, postmarks were discovered at AlHayat newspaper bureaus in Washington, D.C., New York City, London, and Riyadh. Three similar devices, also postmarked in Egypt, were found at a prison facility in Leavenworth, Kan. Bomb disposal experts defused all the devices, but one detonated at the AlHayat office in London, injuring two security guards and causing minor damage.

Empire State Building Sniper Attack, Feb. 23, 1997: A Palestinian gunman opened fire on tourists at an observation deck atop the Empire State Building in New York City, killing a Danish national and wounding visitors from the US, Argentina, Switzerland, and France before turning the gun on himself. A handwritten note carried by the gunman claimed this was a punishment attack against the “enemies of Palestine.”

FARC Kidnapping, March 7, 1997: FARC guerrillas kidnapped a US mining employee and his Colombian colleague who were searching for gold in Colombia. On Nov. 16, the rebels released the two hostages after receiving a $50,000 ransom.

Hotel Nacional Bombing, July 12, 1997: A bomb exploded at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, injuring three persons and causing minor damage. A previously unknown group calling itself the Military Liberation Union claimed responsibility.

Israeli Shopping Mall Bombing, Sept. 4, 1997: Three suicide bombers of Hamas detonated bombs in the Ben Yehuda shopping mall in Jerusalem, killing eight persons, including the bombers, and wounding nearly 200 others. A dual US-Israeli citizen was among the dead, and seven US citizens were wounded.

Murder of US Businessmen in Pakistan, Nov. 12, 1997: Two unidentified gunmen shot to death four US auditors from Union Texas Petroleum Corp. and their Pakistani driver after they drove away from the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi. The Islami Inqilabi Council, or Islamic Revolutionary Council, claimed responsibility in a call to the US Consulate in Karachi. In a letter to Pakistani newspapers, the Aimal Khufia Action Committee also claimed responsibility.

Tourist Killings in Egypt, Nov. 17, 1997: AlGama’at alIslamiyya (IG) gunmen shot and killed 58 tourists and four Egyptians and wounded 26 others at the Hatshepsut Temple in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor.


UN Observer Abductions, Feb. 19, 1998: Armed supporters of late Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia abducted four UN military observers from Sweden, Uruguay, and the Czech Republic.

FARC Abduction, March 21-23, 1998: FARC rebels kidnapped a US citizen in Sabaneta, Colombia. FARC members also killed three persons, wounded 14, and kidnapped at least 27 others at a roadblock near Bogota. Four US citizens and one Italian were among those kidnapped, as well as the acting president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) and his wife.

Somali Hostagetakings, April 15, 1998: Somali militiamen abducted nine Red Cross and Red Crescent workers at an airstrip north of Mogadishu. The hostages included a US citizen, a German, a Belgian, a French, a Norwegian, two Swiss, and one Somali. The gunmen were members of a subclan loyal to Ali Mahdi Mohammed, who controlled the northern section of the capital.

IRA Bombing, Banbridge, Aug. 1, 1998: A 500pound car bomb planted by the Real IRA exploded outside a shoe store in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, injuring 35 persons and damaging at least 200 homes.

US Embassy Bombings in East Africa, Aug. 7, 1998: A bomb exploded at the rear entrance of the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 12 US citizens, 32 Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs), and 247 Kenyan citizens. About 5,000 Kenyans, six US citizens, and 13 FSNs were injured. The US Embassy building sustained extensive structural damage. Almost simultaneously, a bomb detonated outside the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing seven FSNs and three Tanzanian citizens and injuring one US citizen and 76 Tanzanians. The explosion caused major structural damage to the US Embassy facility. The US government held Osama bin Laden responsible.

IRA Bombing, Omagh, Aug. 15, 1998: A 500pound car bomb planted by the Real IRA exploded outside a local courthouse in the central shopping district of Omagh, Northern Ireland, killing 29 persons and injuring more than 330.

Colombian Pipeline Bombing, Oct. 18, 1998: A National Liberation Army (ELN)-planted bomb exploded on the Ocensa pipeline in Antioquia Department, killing approximately 71 persons and injuring at least 100 others. The pipeline is jointly owned by the Colombia state oil company Ecopetrol and a consortium including US, French, British, and Canadian companies.

Armed Kidnapping in Colombia, Nov. 15, 1998: Armed assailants followed a US businessman and his family home in Cundinamarca Department and kidnapped his 11yearold son after stealing money, jewelry, one automobile, and two cell phones. The kidnappers demanded $1 million in ransom. On Jan. 21, 1999, the kidnappers released the boy.


Ugandan Rebel Attack, Feb. 14, 1999: A pipe bomb exploded inside a bar, killing five persons and injuring 35 others. One Ethiopian and four Ugandan nationals died in the blast, and one US citizen working for USAID, two Swiss nationals, one Pakistani, one Ethiopian, and 27 Ugandans were injured. Ugandan authorities blamed the attack on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Greek Embassy Seizure, Feb. 16, 1999: Kurdish protesters stormed and occupied the Greek Embassy in Vienna, taking the Greek ambassador and six other persons hostage. Several hours later the protesters released the hostages and left the embassy. The attack followed the Turkish government’s announcement of the successful capture of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. Kurds also occupied Kenyan, Israeli, and other Greek diplomatic facilities in France, Holland, Switzerland, Britain, and Germany over the following days.

FARC Kidnappings, Feb. 25, 1999: FARC kidnapped three US citizens working for the Hawaii-based Pacific Cultural Conservancy International. On March 4, the bodies of the three victims were found in Venezuela.

Hutu Abductions, March 1, 1999: 150 armed Hutu rebels attacked three tourist camps in Uganda, killed four Ugandans, and abducted three US citizens, six Britons, three New Zealanders, two Danish citizens, one Australian, and one Canadian national. Two of the US citizens and six of the other hostages were subsequently killed by their abductors.

ELN Hostagetaking, March 23, 1999: Armed guerrillas kidnapped a US citizen in Boyaca, Colombia. The National Liberation Army (ELN) claimed responsibility and demanded $400,000 ransom. On July 20, ELN rebels released the hostage unharmed following a ransom payment of $48,000.

ELN Hostagetaking, May 30, 1999: In Cali, Colombia, armed ELN militants attacked a church in the neighborhood of Ciudad Jardin, kidnapping 160 persons, including six US citizens and one French national. The rebels released approximately 80 persons, including three US citizens, later that day.

AFRC Kidnappings, Aug. 4, 1999: An Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) faction kidnapped 33 UN representatives near Occra Hills, Sierra Leone.

Burmese Embassy Seizure, Oct. 1, 1999: Burmese dissidents seized the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, taking 89 persons hostage, including one US citizen.


Diplomatic Assassination in Greece, June 8, 2000: In Athens, Greece, two unidentified gunmen killed British Defense Attaché Stephen Saunders in an ambush. The revolutionary organization 17 November claimed responsibility.

ELN Kidnapping, June 27, 2000: In Bogota, Colombia, ELN militants kidnapped a 5yearold US citizen and his Colombian mother, demanding an undisclosed ransom.

Kidnappings in Kyrgyzstan, Aug. 12, 2000: In the KaraSu Valley, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan took four US citizens hostage. The Americans escaped Aug. 12.

Attack on USS Cole, Oct. 12, 2000: In Aden, Yemen, a small dinghy carrying explosives rammed the destroyer USS Cole, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39 others. Supporters of Osama bin Laden were suspected.

Manila Bombing, Dec. 30, 2000: A bomb exploded in a plaza across the street from the US Embassy in Manila, injuring nine persons. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front was likely responsible.


BBC Studios Bombing, March 4, 2001: A car bomb exploded at midnight outside of the British Broadcasting Corp.’s main production studios in London.

Bus Stop Bombing, April 22, 2001: A member of Hamas detonated a bomb he was carrying near a bus stop in Kfar Siva, Israel, killing one person and injuring 60.

Tel Aviv Nightclub Bombing, June 1, 2001: Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing of a popular Israeli nightclub that caused over 140 casualties.

Hamas Restaurant Bombing, Aug. 9, 2001: A Hamas-planted bomb detonated in a Jerusalem pizza restaurant, killing 15 people and wounding more than 90.

Terrorist Attacks on US Homeland, Sept. 11, 2001: Two hijacked airliners crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The Pentagon was struck by a third hijacked airplane, and a fourth hijacked airplane crashed into a field in southern Pennsylvania. More than 5,000 US citizens and other nationals were killed as a result of these acts.