The nomination of a veteran commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as the new defence minister has been greeted with calls for an investigation into his possible ties to the suicide bombing of the U.S. Marines compound in Beirut airport in October 1983, which killed 241 Americans.
Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards, was in command of the IRGC expeditionary force in Lebanon when on October 23, 1983, at 6:22 a.m., a suicide bomber drove a large water delivery truck to the Beirut International Airport where the Marine Barracks was located. The bomber and his accomplices had hijacked the original truck on its way to the airport and sent another one, loaded with explosives, in its place.
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After turning onto an access road leading to the compound, the driver rushed through a barbed-wire fence, passed between two sentry posts, crashed through the gate, and slammed into the lobby of the barracks. The huge explosion crumbled the four-story building, crushing the soldiers to death while they were sleeping.
All the windows at the airport control tower, half a mile away, shattered. A crater eight feet deep was carved into the earth, and 15 feet of rubble was all that remained of the four-story Marine barracks.
The attack killed 241 U.S. service members. The Americans quickly withdrew their forces from Lebanon and the suicide operation became a turning point in the increasing use of terrorism by radical Islamic fundamentalists across the world.