Today, with sorrow, sadness, and prayers, we remember the 40th anniversary of the tragic bombings carried out by Iranian-backed extremist groups, affiliated with what is known as “Hezbollah,” at the headquarters of the American and French forces in Beirut in 1983.
October 23, 1983, was a somber day in the history of Lebanon and the United States, in what concerns our dedicated efforts as Lebanese and free, sovereign Americans towards peace in the Middle East.
On that dad morning, suicide bombers ideologically recruited and backed by the Iranian regime, operating under the banner of “Hezbollah,” carried out twin terrorist attacks on the American and French military headquarters in Beirut. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 241 American and 56 French soldiers, as well as a significant number of Lebanese civilians.
As we remember that tragic event, we must shed light on the criminal and terrorist role of the Iranian regime, not only in the Middle East, but also in all free nations around the world. We should not forget the real and dire threats to peace and stability that Hezbollah represents in our region in general, and specifically in our beleaguered and occupied Lebanon.
The responsibility of the Iranian regime for the 1983 bombings was never in doubt, given the compelling evidence that condemns its leadership and holds them accountable for that horrendous act of terrorism. This bloody and terrorist regime founded Hezbollah in 1982. It funds and trains its fighters, and exercises complete control over its decision making process. The 1983 terrorist bombing also reminds us of Iran’s use of its militias and terrorist proxies, particularly Hezbollah, to achieve its ideological, expansionist, and criminal goals in all free nations around the world.
The heinous bombings by the Iranian regime in Beirut in 1983 exposes its disregard for human life and universal values, as well as its absolute refusal to adhere to international standards and laws in a bid to promote its disruptive agenda and its scheme in undermining peace and stability.
We must remember that Hezbollah, the military proxy of Iran, occupies Lebanon and controls its governance and decision-making process since 2005. It is an extremist, militia-style terrorist organization with a long history of murder, criminal activities, money laundering, assassinations, and illicit trade. The 1983 bombings were not isolated incidents, but part of Hezbollah’s ongoing pattern of terrorism in service to Iran’s agenda.
We must also note that all aggressive actions by the Iranian regime, directly or through Hezbollah, or its other military proxies in Syria, Gaza, Yemen, and Iraq, destabilize peace and stability in the entire Middle East, while innocent citizens in these countries suffer the consequences of its expansionist, authoritarian, and sectarian schemes.
Meanwhile, The Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities, support for armed terrorist groups, and interference in the internal affairs of neighboring countries, poses serious and significant threats to the region’s stability and peace.
In conclusion, the Middle East in particular, and the world in general, will not know peace and stability until the criminal and terrorist Iranian regime is toppled, in a bid to allow the peace-loving Iranian people to govern themselves through democratic means.
On the 40th anniversary of the Bombing of American and French Forces’ Headquarters in Beirut in 1983, we offer our heartily felt prayers for the souls of American and French soldiers, and for the souls of all the innocent Lebanese citizens who lost their lives in the bombing.
Background U.S. Embassy Beirut marked the 40th anniversary of the October 23, 1983, bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks in Beiru U.S. EMBASSY BEIRUT OCTOBER 23, 2023
Today, U.S. Embassy Beirut marked the 40th anniversary of the October 23, 1983, bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, in which a suicide bomber killed 241 U.S. servicemembers. U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea, Deputy Chief of Mission Amanda Pilz, and the Embassy community honored and paid tribute to those who lost their lives in this attack.
Ambassador Shea and French Ambassador Hervé Magro laid a wreath at the U.S. Embassy memorial adorned with the phrase, “They Came in Peace.” Members of the U.S. Embassy’s Marine Security Guard detachment read the names of each victim, remembered their service, and honored their sacrifice.
In her remarks, Ambassador Shea emphasized that the United States’ commitment to the people of Lebanon is “so much stronger than any cowardly act of violence or terrorism.” She continued, “The motto of the U.S. Marine Corps is semper fidelis, always faithful. Today, 40 years after the Marine Corps Barracks bombing, we are forever faithful to the memory of those 241 servicemen and all those – Americans, Lebanese, and others – who have given their lives in support of peace.”
Following are Ambassador Shea’s complete remarks:
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy C. Shea 40th Anniversary of the Bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks October 23, 2023, 9:30 AM
Good morning. Thank you, all of you, for joining us here today. Thank you, Your Excellency Hervé Magro, defense attaché, and other colleagues from our French embassy counterparts. Thank you, all of you, for being here with us amid difficult circumstances to pay our respects to those lost and injured 40 years ago today.
Forty years ago, the Lebanese people were midway through a horrific civil war that killed tens of thousands and drove almost a million Lebanese to flee their homes. At the request of the Lebanese government, the United States – alongside our French, Italian, and UK allies – formed a new multinational force to help the Lebanese government regain full sovereignty over Beirut and the entire country. Or, as President Ronald Reagan said at the time, to ensure that “the Lebanese people are allowed to chart their own future.” That is an aspiration we still hold.
And so in 1982, roughly 800 U.S. Marines landed in Beirut. Along with their fellow French, UK, and Italian soldiers, they came in peace to help ensure the safety of the Lebanese people and bring an end to the tragic violence.
These Marines were young men with bright futures ahead of them, and with a deep commitment to serving their country and the values we hold dear as Americans and Lebanese. Colleagues, I would invite you to view the exhibit in our consular waiting room, which includes some photographs depicting the daily lives of these Marines when they were here in Beirut. These photos capture some of their simple pleasures, like a pick-up soccer match or getting a haircut or playing with Lebanese children in the area around the Marine Corps Barracks.
October 23, 1983, should have been one of those days. It was a Sunday, so the compound would have been quiet.
At 6:22 a.m., just a few moments before the morning reveille was scheduled to sound, their bright futures were cut short in a matter of seconds. A suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into the barracks and detonated it, in an attack conducted with Iran’s support. This building was reduced to rubble. 241 U.S. servicemen were killed that day. One more would die in the coming days due to injuries he sustained during the attack.
In a matter of seconds, a cowardly act of terrorism robbed these American servicemen of their bright futures. Families were left forever grieving an unimaginable loss, and an entire nation was left in shock.
A few minutes later, a second suicide bomber struck the French barracks, the Drakkar, and killed 58 French paratroopers. Again, I would like to recognize his Excellency Ambassador Hervé Magro, who is with us here today, and salute the memory of those French paratroopers, whose futures were taken away from them far too soon. Que leurs âmes reposent en paix.
We are here, today, 40 years later, to honor the memories of those who came in peace. We remember, and we honor them.
We are also here to say unequivocally that our commitment to the Lebanese people is so much stronger than any cowardly act of violence or terrorism.
Today, we reject, and the Lebanese people reject, the threats of some to drag Lebanon into a new war. We continue to renounce any attempts to shape the region’s future through intimidation, violence, and terrorism – and here I am talking about not just Iran and Hizballah, but also Hamas and others, who falsely paint themselves as a noble “resistance,” and who most certainly do not represent the aspirations – or the values – of the Palestinian people, while they try to rob Lebanon and its people of their bright future.
The motto of the U.S. Marine Corps is semper fidelis, always faithful. Today, 40 years after the Marine Corps Barracks bombing, we are forever faithful to the memory of those 241 servicemen and all those – Americans, Lebanese, and others – who have given their lives in support of peace.
We are also forever faithful to our values and principles, the very same ones that brought the U.S. Marines here in the 1980s, and the ones that I know we as Americans and Lebanese share today. Those of us who are serving here today continue to work every day to promote those values and to be a positive force for Lebanon’s peace, stability, and national unity – and today in particular, we do so in memory of those who paid the ultimate price.