Forensic experts search the area outside the Russian consulate in Athens, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavakis)
ATHENS – With critics saying the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA has emboldened anarchist assaults on a number of targets in Greece’s capital, assailants suspected of belonging to a left-wing militant group threw a hand grenade at the Russian Consulate March 22, causing minor damage and no injuries, Greek authorities said.
Police sent a bomb disposal team to the consulate after cameras showed two people on a motorbike throwing a small object in the early hours of the morning at the fence beside the consulate’s security guard post, reportedly causing minor damage.
Despite the government promising tighter security for embassies after previous attacks, including against those from Germany and Israel, no security guard was at the post at the time, reports said.
Police cordoned off the area around the consulate, located in a suburb north of the city center.
Greece’s counter-terrorism police were investigating the attack that came in the wake of the government trying to repair relations with Moscow after two Russian diplomats last year were expelled after being accused of trying to undermine a deal Greece made to change the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to North Macedonia.
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the attack, which it said would not affect “the traditional and inherently long-term friendly relations … with Russia.” it said a thorough investigation would be carried out to catch the perpetrators.
Authorities were examining a motorbike found partially burned in a central Athens neighborhood.
Greece has a long history of small groups that periodically attack symbols of state authority, wealth or foreign diplomacy. They usually plant small explosive devices that don’t cause injuries although a package bomb exploded in a car holding former Premier Lucas Papademos in 2017.
Police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity as the investigation was ongoing, said they suspect the attack was carried out by a leftist militant group called the Popular Fighters Group, which had claimed responsibility for a bombing against the offices of SKAI TV and a newspaper in December.
Authorities were also investigating whether other active militant groups might have been behind the attack as Greece is awash with terror groups and the notorious Rouvikonas group which has vandalized many targets around the capital with none of the ringleaders being apprehended, leading to charges Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is soft on crime.
The Popular Fighters Group, known by its Greek acronym OLA, is considered responsible for several bombings and shootings since it first appeared in 2003, when it fired shots at the offices of Greece’s conservative New Democracy party.
It has also carried out shootings against the residence of the German ambassador in Athens, fired a rocket against the offices of a car dealership and planted bombs outside the offices of Greece’s federation of enterprises, a bank and a courthouse.
None of its attacks have caused any injuries and a SYRIZA minister said the assaults weren’t serious but just political acts.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)
Share the Diplomatic Security Situation Reports with Friends!
The German prosecutor”s office confirmed on Thursday investigations into acts of vandalism perpetrated by unknown persons against the Venezuelan consulate general in Hamburg, in the north of the country.
On the 2nd of this month several people damaged the diplomatic installation with posters and paintings insulting President Nicolás Maduro, an attack criticized by the authorities and solidarity groups with Venezuela.
The organization Juana Ramirez La Avanzadora, which brings together Venezuelans living in Germany, and other Latin American and African initiatives described the aggression as cowardly and demanded respect for diplomatic personnel.
In addition, they questioned the treatment given by the German press to the situation in Venezuela, which ignores this type of intimidation on the part of the opposition.
Meanwhile, the Latin American Bloc alliance condemned ‘any interference in the internal affairs of the South American nation because it fuels a violent escalation that could lead to regional destabilization’.
‘We urge governments and institutions to put an end to the economic sanctions against Venezuela, which only impede the population’s access to basic consumer goods and medicines,’ states a communiqué from the alliance of a dozen organizations.
‘For us, this is an attack on the sovereignty and self-determination of a people. We are in favor of a political solution that must come from the citizens, in accordance with the constitutional order,’ he concludes.
Germans and Latin Americans living in Hamburg organized several demonstrations in January in solidarity with Venezuela and criticized ‘the actions to ignore Maduro’s electoral victory on May 20, 2018.
In addition, they condemned U.S. maneuvers to promote a coup d’état in that country.
A Serbian court has acquitted the suspects in the 2008 arson attack on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade.
The Appeals Court of Belgrade said on January 16 that it had overturned suspended prison sentences for four suspects and confirmed an earlier acquittal of three other people by a lower court.
Prosecutors failed to provide enough evidence to back the indictment, a statement said.
Demonstrators tried to storm the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and set part of it ablaze in February 2008 as tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the Serbian capital to protest Kosovo’s declaration of independence a few days earlier.
A 20-year-old man died in the incident, which has burdened relations between Washington and Belgrade for years.
Dozens of people were injured in the violence, which also included attacks on several European embassies but caused less damage.
The United States has been a strong advocate of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia and was among the first countries to recognize the new state.
Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Advertisement: Diplomat Armored Rentals
Share the Diplomatic Security Situation Reports with Friends!
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police say they have detained eight people after the U.S. Embassy in Athens was vandalized with paint.
Police said Monday the eight were detained after about 10 people on motorbikes threw red paint at the embassy’s parking entrance at around 3:30 a.m. local time. An anarchist group known as Rouvikonas claimed responsibility for the attack in an internet post.
It cited “American imperialism” as well as Greece’s deal with neighbouring Macedonia for the latter to change its name to North Macedonia in return for NATO membership, and the recent US decision to pull out of Syria, a move it said delivers Kurdish forces there “to the semi-fascist state of Turkey.”
Rouvikonas has carried out similar paint attacks in the past against embassies, Greek state organisations and political party offices.
————–Back Story From AFP
Two Greek anarchists were arrested Monday after hurling red paint at the US embassy in Athens, police said.
A further eight members of the Rubicon Anarchist Collective were also detained but later released over the incident, which caused minor material damage but no injuries, police added.
The Greek foreign ministry condemned an action it said undermined “longstanding friendly relations between the two peoples and the strategic relationship between Greece and the United States (which is) crucial for our country and the region.”
The Rubicon group, which regards Washington’s interventions in numerous regions including the nearby Balkans as “imperialism”, arrived outside the embassy in the early hours and sprayed the entrance before police intervened.
Another gripe is the planned US withdrawal of troops from Syria, which the group said would “abandon the Kurds into Syria’s hands”.
Rubicon has carried out a number of similar acts on embassies, banks and public buildings in recent years, causing some material damage but no injury.
Last October, the group daubed paint over the facade of the Canadian embassy to protest the presence of a Canadian gold mining firm in northern Greece.
A month earlier, Rubicon targeted the Iranian embassy in “solidarity” with Iranian Kurds. Media reports say it plans to join a January 17 meeting of other anarchist organisations in Rome.
Share the Diplomatic Security Situation Reports with Friends!
The U.S. government released a surveillance video from a recent grenade attack at the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara. The FBI released the video to seek help in identifying two of the gunmen believed to have played a role in the attack.
Notice: Fbi-Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with other members of the U.S. public order forces. Uu. And Mexico, is looking for public assistance to know the identity of the people responsible for the grenade attack on November 30th to the U.S. Consulate building. Uu. In Guadalajara, Jalisco. To help in this effort, the FBI is launching the following images and videos of the two subjects that are presumed to be involved in the attack.
Suspect 1 (the supposed grenade launcher): Age: 25-35; height: Approximately 1.70-1.80 meters; complexion: thin; complexion: Dark; hair: Chestnut and short; eyes: Coffees; described by witnesses Dress a zipper hoodie with blue or grey hood, a white polo shirt, a black cap, dark jeans and white tennis.
Suspect 2 (person of interest who may have been involved): Age: 20-40; height: Approximately 1.70-1.80 meters; complexion: thin; complexion: Unknown; hair: shaved on the sides of the head and longer On the top; eyes: Unknown; described by witnesses to dress a dark color windbreaker with white letters or stripes on the back, clear colored pants and dark shoes with a bright emblem.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $ 20 in exchange for information that leads to the identification and arrest of these individuals. Anyone who has information about this incident or about the identity or whereabouts of these individuals must communicate with researchers to the free number 001-800-225-5324 or 33-3268-2349. all information will remain anonymous and confidentiality is guaranteed. More Information: https://goo.gl/zhB2bR
This week, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations released a surveillance video with images of two men who are believed to have been part of the team of gunmen who lobbed at least two grenades into the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara last month.
Soon after the attack, the FBI offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the identity of the criminal organization behind the attack.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon.You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony Aranda from the Cartel Chronicles project contributed to this report.
Share the Diplomatic Security Situation Reports with Friends!
Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 12/12/2019 Updates on US Consulate Grenade Attack
MEXICO CITY — Officials in western Mexico confirmed Friday that a drug cartel has hung up banners denying involvement in a Nov. 30 grenade attack on the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara.
Several media outlets posted photos of the banners, which read: “Our cartel totally and completely distances itself from what happened at the U.S. embassy (sic).”
The banners were signed “Jalisco New Generation cartel.”
A Jalisco state government official who was not authorized to be quoted by name confirmed the content of the banners, and said they were found strung on an overpass and footbridge in Guadalajara on Thursday.
The official could not vouch for the authenticity of the banners.
The professionally printed vinyl banners read, “We are not the ones who carried out the attack” on the consulate.
“You, the government, know perfectly well who is doing things with the aim of sullying our organization’s image,” the banner continued.
The banners appeared a couple of days after the FBI offered a $20,000 reward for information on the attack.
The FBI says a lone attacker tossed two grenades at the consulate while it was closed. Nobody was injured.
It was unclear if the Nov. 30 attack had been timed to coincide with the eve of the Dec. 1 inauguration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Mexican cartels have been known to carry out grisly acts of violence in areas controlled by their rivals in order to provoke government crackdowns on their rivals’ turf.
The Mexican and U.S. government have been focusing their efforts on the Jalisco cartel in particular, in part because it is viewed as the fastest-growing Mexican drug gang. This week, the new administration announced its first money-laundering case against the Jalisco cartel.
In past attacks on U.S. targets in Mexico, the attackers have usually pleaded ignorance or mistaken identity.
In 2010, hitmen working for Barrio Azteca, a gang allied with the Juarez drug cartel, killed U.S. consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband, Arthur Redfels, and Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another employee of the consulate in Ciudad Juarez.
Former gang members testified the killings were a case of mistaken identity. Redfels was driving a white SUV that was very similar to a vehicle that had been marked as a target for his team of assassins because they thought it belonged to members of the rival Sinaloa cartel.
Grenade attack on U.S. Consulate may be an ominous warning for Mexico’s new president
MEXICO CITY — The U.S. Consulate in Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara, opened Monday with limited operations after it was targeted with two grenades over the weekend, just hours before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in as the nation’s first leftist president.
The act occurred when the consulate was closed, and no one was injured. But it immediately caused alarm among government officials and security experts who question whether it was meant as a test for the new Lopez Obrador government, to provoke the Trump administration, or both.
Guadalajara, along with Lake Chapala and Ajijic in the region, is home to one of the largest American expat communities in the world.
Elements of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, whose headquarters are in Guadalajara, were suspected in the act. Security was reinforced Monday outside consulate offices as well as at the U.S Embassy in Mexico City as a precaution.
“The situation in Mexico is a powder keg,” said Arturo Fontes, a security consultant and former FBI agent whose postings have included the western city. “The timing and target are key: a presidential inauguration. Political transition. The Chapo trial, which threatens to expose names of corrupt officials, and the migrant caravan.”
The infamous drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán of the Sinaloan cartel has been on trial in New York City since mid-November. Fontes and other security experts say the caravans of hundreds and sometimes thousands of Central Americans moving up through Mexico to the U.S. border are hurting human- and drug-smuggling profits because they don’t need cartel protection or cartel-regulated coyote smuggling services.
And with Christmas fast approaching, cartel bosses are desperate for money to pay annual holiday bonuses known as aguinaldos to their underlings.
Some current and former U.S. and Mexican officials drew parallels to other political transitions in which power vacuums have led to internal realignment among cartels, usually leaving a trail of bloodshed behind.
Lopez Obrador arrives to the presidency with the murder rate at a record high, with more than 31,000 people killed this year. It’s now been 12 years since the official start of a militarized crackdown on organized crime that’s left more than 240,000 dead and more than 37,000 missing.
Moreover, Mexico’s rule of law remains weak, with beleaguered police forces beset by corruption and incompetence, campaign issues that were central in ushering Lopez Obrador to power.
This article neglects to mention the large number of crimes committed by the Municipal Police in Mexico. It has been our experience that even high ranking Government Employees, Senior Elected Officials, and Judges are often forced to ignore crimes commited by the municipal police out of fear.
At his first daily early morning press briefings Monday, Lopez Obrador made no mention of the incident in Guadalajara.
Near midnight on Friday, a person, caught on film, tossed two grenades into the U.S. Consulate General compound. Grenade fragments were found at the scene and the blast left a 16-inch hole in an exterior wall. The damage was considered minimal.
Mexican federal and U.S. authorities are investigating the act. The U.S. Consulate said on Twitter that it was limiting operations Monday to facilitate the investigation. Regular operations were to resume Tuesday.
“The investigation has been handed over to federal authorities, who will give information on developments in due time,” stated the prosecutor’s office for the state of Jalisco.
The incident comes nearly two weeks after the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known by its Spanish acronym, CNGJ, allegedly posted a video online in which it threatened to attack the consulate. The video shows a man under interrogation, with part of his face bandaged and severely beaten. With an accordion playing in the background, the man says he was ordered to attack the consulate office and, with the help of local and state police, to kidnap Central American men, women and children and hold them for ransom to generate money to pay corrupt authorities to overlook illicit activities. The planned attack against the consulate office, the man said, was to send the U.S. a message to leave “Mencho alone.”
The Dallas Morning News couldn’t independently confirm the recording’s authenticity.
CNGJ is one of the largest and most violent cartels in Mexico and is a top target for U.S. anti-drug operations. The gang’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, or “El Mencho,” is on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted list.
Attacks on U.S. personnel or structures are rare. But when they do happen, retaliation by the U.S. government has been swift and severe. An unexploded grenade at a U.S. Consulate in Monterrey in 2008, the 2010 killing of a U.S. Consulate employee and her husband in Juarez, and the 2011 murder of U.S. agent Jaime Zapata led to swift action by the U.S. government that eventually crippled or splintered the cartels, from the Zetas in the state of Tamaulipas to the Juarez cartel across from El Paso.
John Feeley served in Mexico during those incidents and said of the incident in Guadalajara: “We have seen U.S. embassies and consulates attacked before, but it is very rare. If this was a cartel directed attack, it was almost certainly a message or a trial run … El Mencho and CNGJ know how to kill and maim and this attack did neither.”
Feeley said he won’t fully rule out that someone other than a cartel may be behind the grenades, saying, “We have seen embassies attacked by disgruntled visa seeker or ideologically anti-American crowds, too. One thing is certain, however: The FBI and ATF will be all over this and it will be an early test of law enforcement collaboration in the AMLO-era.”
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a political science professor at George Mason University and expert on security, said she was puzzled by the act because it’s been a long-held unspoken rule by the cartels not to rattle U.S. authorities. But she said the timing was key.
“Remember that the CJNG grew exponentially and became what it is now since the beginning of the Peña Nieto government,” she said, referring to former President Enrique Peña Nieto, who just ended his six-year term. “But they should not be attracting attention, and with this attack you’re calling for a response from two governments. Why?”
Fontes played an integral role as an FBI investigator in the Laredo region during the rise of the Zetas paramilitary group, whose remnants continue to terrorize the area. Fontes didn’t dismiss the possibility of a feud inside the Jalisco cartel, as warring factions led by Carlos Enrique Sanchez Martinez, known as El Cholo, with the support of the Sinaloa cartel, against his old boss, ‘El Mencho.” But in his experience in Nuevo Laredo, he said, politics also played a central role in such incidents as political rivals unleashed violence to weaken their opponents in the eyes of voters.
Political motives cannot be ignored, he said. “You have a new president coming in and this may be a message: ‘Hey, this drug war continues and it can make or break you.’ ”
More From Dallas News
Share the Diplomatic Security Situation Reports with Friends!
Twenty people have been killed in Turkey by security forces’ armoured vehicles in accidental collisions or shooting incidents, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen told the Turkish parliament in a speech on Thursday.
Bilgen’s speech came the day after 32-year-old Sedat Polat was killed in the southeast Turkish province of Şanlıurfa when a police armoured vehicle accidentally opened fire on the bus he was a passenger on as it stopped at a checkpoint.
In the past year around 20 people aged between four and 80 years old have been killed by security forces’ vehicles that have gone out of control and crashed into homes, failed to brake at junctions and crashed into civilians, or when they have opened fire without provocation, Bilgen said.
The deaths in 2018 followed another year with a high incidence of accidental deaths caused by armoured vehicles in 2017.
The Turkish news portal Artı Gerçek reported in June 2017 that 25 people had been killed by armoured vehicles since a state of emergency was called on July 20, 2016, and the majority of the deaths had again been caused in accidents.
The state of emergency was brought in after factions in the Turkish army attempted a coup on July 15, 2016. However, the coup attempt had been preceded by curfews and heavy fighting throughout large parts of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, where groups associated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) resumed decades of armed conflict with Turkish security forces when a ceasefire broke down in 2015.
All the staff inside the consulate are safe, China said. The government condemned the attack on its mission and the foreign ministry in Beijing called for extra measures to protect Chinese citizens in Pakistan.
“At the same time we mourn the deaths of the Pakistani police and think of their families at this time,” a spokesman said.
But the spokesman was keen to praise Pakistani security forces for its efforts to protect the consulate.
A separatist group, the Balochistan Liberation Army, said it had carried out the attack. It is one of a number of separatist groups operating in the province, which has seen a long-running nationalist insurgency.
“We have been seeing the Chinese as an oppressor, along with Pakistani forces,” a spokesman for the group told the AFP news agency.
Over the years, construction projects and Chinese workers in Balochistan have been repeatedly targeted by militants. Most recently, a suicide bombing in August injured a number of Chinese engineers.
So far, none of the incidents has been large enough in scale to really threaten the viability of Chinese investment in the country. But this is one of the most prominent attacks to date.
Officials told the BBC’s Stephen McDonell in Beijing they were confident the Pakistani government was able to manage the security situation to guarantee Chinese investment.
In the middle of a hard day, Pakistan’s remarkable women rise to be the silver lining. So proud of SSP Suhai Aziz Talpur, the woman who fearlessly spearheaded the vanguard of the successful police operation against terrorists at Chinese consulate.
Suhai Talpur joined the police force after passing the country’s civil services exam in 2013, according to local media.
“When my parents decided to enroll me at a school, most of our relatives started taunting my family. So much so, that my family had to leave our village and move to a nearby town,” she is quoted as telling The Express Tribune.
What is China doing in Balochistan?
By Secunder Kermani, BBC Pakistan correspondent, Islamabad
Balochistan is a sparsely populated region and has remained Pakistan’s most impoverished area despite being rich in gas and coal reserves, as well as copper and gold.
Baloch nationalists have long accused the central government of exploitation, and denying the province its due rights.
The area is at the heart of an ambitious Chinese project, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The corridor is a string of huge investments by China in Pakistani infrastructure, which aim to link its western Xinjiang province with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan, as part of the One Belt, One Road initiative.
China has poured billions into Pakistan, and thousands of Chinese nationals visit the country to work on CPEC projects or other business ventures. Pakistan is keen to ensure nothing happens to jeopardize that and Chinese workers are closely guarded.
The assault on the consulate is particularly significant because it took place in Karachi, the commercial capital of Pakistan, rather than in the remote province where the militants are based.
The incident will deeply concern authorities who have described the Chinese funding as a “game-changer”.
Share the Diplomatic Security Situation Reports with Friends!
Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s annual rally to mark the storming of the US embassy and hostage-taking of 1979 had particular significance on Sunday on the eve of renewed sanctions by Washington.
Thousands joined rallies in Tehran and other cities, carrying placards that mocked President Donald Trump, wiping their feet on fake dollar bills, and engaging in the usual ritual of burning the US flag.
This year’s 39th anniversary fell just hours before Washington was set to reimpose sanctions — including an oil embargo — following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this year.
Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, addressed the crowd from the grounds of the former embassy, now known as the “den of spies”.
He said “economic warfare” was a final bid by Washington to overthrow the Islamic republic after decades of failed attempts.
“With God’s help and the resistance and perseverance of the pious and revolutionary people of Islamic Iran, this last weapon of the enemy — the economic war — which is accompanied by America’s widespread media operation against the nation of Iran, will be defeated,” Jafari said.
“Never threaten Iran,” he warned US President Donald Trump, describing him as America’s “strange president”.
The seizure of the US embassy by radical students was a key stage in the Islamic revolution of 1979, leading to a 444-day hostage crisis that permanently damaged relations between Washington and Tehran.
The students believed the US would launch a counter-coup to return deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power — similar to the CIA-backed coup that overthrew Iran’s elected government in 1953 — unaware that the king was already critically ill with cancer.
Several of the students later regretted the incident, but for the establishment it has become a powerful symbol of Iran’s refusal to be dominated by outside powers, the key driving force of the revolution.
Without the attack on the embassy, “the revolution would not have reached its 40th year,” said Jafari.
Thirty-five years ago, two suicide bombers killed 241 American and 58 French military personnel, as well as six civilians, in Beirut, Lebanon. The attack marked the largest single-day loss for US servicemen since the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive.
playU.S. Marines with the School of Infantry-East Color Guard stand at parade rest during a wreath laying ceremony on the anniversary of the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on Camp Geiger, N.C., Oct. 23, 2015.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by SOI-East Combat Camera Cpl. Andrew Kuppers/ Released)
Thirty-five years ago, two suicide bombers killed 241 American and 58 French military personnel, as well as six civilians, in Beirut, Lebanon. The incident marked the largest single-day loss for the US military since the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive.
The horrific Oct. 23, 1983 attack on the multinational peacekeepers, an attack purportedly perpetrated by the Iranian-funded terrorist organization Hezbollah, was especially devastating for the US Marine Corps, which lost 220 service members. The Corps had not suffered such a loss since in one day since Iwo Jima. Eighteen US Navy sailors and three Army soldiers were also killed in the Beirut barracks bombing, and dozens of others were injured.
The deadly blast, characterized by the FBI as the largest non-nuclear explosion they’d ever seen, came just a few months after the April 18, 1983 bombing of the US Embassy in Lebanon, where an extremist killed 63 people, including 17 Americans.
In 1982, the US decided, at the request of the Lebanese government, to send US troops to Lebanon to serve as peacekeepers in the bloody Lebanese Civil War between warring Muslim and Christian factions. The 24th Marine Amphibious Unit stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was deployed to Beirut in the spring of 1983.
US forces, along with their French and Italian counterparts, achieved some initial success in Lebanon, but the Muslim factions in the country began to turn their aggression toward the foreign troops.
playLance Corporal David Chapman of Pennsylvania, right, fires from his sandbagged bunker position at Beirut’s International Airport
At 6:22 a.m. on Oct. 23, 1983, a truck laden with thousands of pounds of explosives slammed into the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine headquarters at the airport in Beirut.
playThe explosion of the Marine Corps building in Beirut, Lebanon, created a large cloud of smoke that was visible from miles away.
(Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort)
The driver, said to be a Iranian national, detonated the explosives, collapsing the four-story barracks.
playRescue workers remove the body of a U.S. Marine from the rubble of the Marine Battalion headquarters at Beirut airport.
American troops were buried in the rubble. “Bodies were lying around all over,” one rescuer reportedly said at the time, “Other people were trapped under the concrete. I could hear them screaming: ‘Get us out. Don’t leave us.’ I just started digging, picking men out.”
playA U.S. Marine looks around as he is pulled from the wreckage of the Marine headquarters near Beirut airport.
The attack claimed the lives of 220 Marines, making it the worst single-day loss for the service in nearly four decades.
playU.S. Marines carry their dead comrades away from the four-story command center that was destroyed in a bomb blast.
(AP Photo/Asaad Jeradeh)
Minutes after the first attack, another suicide bomber hit the French barracks a couple of miles away. French troops managed to kill the driver, but the bomb exploded a few moments later, bringing down the nine-story building.
playA wounded French soldier is attended to by a doctor after he was injured in a huge car bomb attack at a building housing members of the French contingent of the peacekeeping forces in Beirut.
“There are no words to properly express our outrage and I think the outrage of all Americans at the despicable act,” President Ronald Reagan said in response.
playPresident Ronald Reagan condemned the Beirut bombing.
A memorial was built at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and dedicated on Oct. 23, 1986. The names of the fallen, as well as the inscription, “They came in peace,” are written on the memorial.
playThe memorial at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune honors the US service members killed in the Beirut barracks bombings.
(US Marine Corps/Cpl. Jackeline Perez Rivera)
Memorial services are held annually to remember those who were lost, as well as the cost of freedom.
playA Marine color guard stands in front of the Beirut Memorial in Jacksonville, N.C., during the Beirut Memorial Ceremony Oct. 23, 2014.
(US Marine Corps/Cpl. James Smith)
“I think we all kind of grew up that day because we knew the world had changed,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Tuesday, “It changed the way we saw the world. It changed the way we looked at threats. It changed the way we trained. It changed the way we operated – and those lessons learned carried through the rest of our time as Marines. And that impact of Beirut still shapes us today.”
playU.S. Marines with the Official Marine Corps Color Guard march on the colors during the Beirut Memorial Parade at Marine Barracks Washington, Washington, D.C., Oct. 23, 2017.
10/19/2018 Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep| ANKARA: An individual who claimed to have links to Daesh (ISIS) extremist group threatened to attack the Iranian Embassy in Ankara, Tehran’s envoy in Turkey said Monday, denying Turkish media reports that he had been evacuated.
“The suicide attack against the embassy was only a threat,” Ambassador Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard said. “Nothing significant has happened and things are under control.”
“The threat was made by someone who introduced himself as linked to Daesh,” Fard said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
Turkish media said Fard had been evacuated but the ambassador and Tehran flatly denied the report as a complete fabrication.
“Such a claim is a sheer lie, and the personnel at our embassy are present at their workplace in full health and security,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.
Earlier Monday, DHA news agency said Iran’s mission in the Turkish capital had been given an intelligence warning about a possible suicide bomb attack. The road by the embassy was shut off and police could be seen searching cars in the area, an AFP photographer said.
Ambassador Fard also said Turkish police “intensified security measures” around Tehran’s mission in Ankara in response to the threat.
In 2015 and 2016, Turkey was hit by a series of terror attacks which were blamed on both Kurdish militants and Daesh.
The last attack blamed on Daesh was in January 2017 when a gunman killed 39 people at an elite Istanbul nightclub on New Year.
10/15/2018 Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep CAIRO — Embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions worldwide are often considered places of sanctuary, however, not all have been impervious to horrific incidents.
When Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week it prompted Turkish officials and media to claim he may have been killed and even dismembered by a squad of assassins on the premises. The macabre mystery stirred memories of instances when diplomatic missions turned into places of terror.
Brutal killings, suicide bombings, militant raids and hostage crises — embassies and consulates have seen plenty of tragedy and bloodshed.
Here are just some of many examples:
BENGHAZI, ATTACK ON U.S. COMPOUNDS IN LIBYA
Libyan extremists from the militant Ansar al-Shariah group attacked two U.S. compounds — a diplomatic post and a CIA annex nearby — in the city of Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, setting off a night of rampage that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and gutted the buildings. Last year, a jury in Washington convicted 47-year-old Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khattala on multiple terrorism-related charges for his role in the attacks.
AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY BOMBING IN JAKARTA
Suspected Muslim militants detonated a car bomb outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept. 9, 2004, killing eight people, including an embassy guard, policemen on duty, two embassy workers and a visa applicant.
MYANMAR EMBASSY SIEGE IN BANGKOK
A shadowy group known as the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors stormed the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok on Oct. 7, 1999. They took 38 hostages to demand democracy in their country, also known as Burma. Thailand allowed them to fly to the border, angering Myanmar but ending the standoff without bloodshed.
U.S. BOMBING OF CHINESE EMBASSY IN BELGRADE
NATO bombs hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade by mistake on May 8, 1999, killing three Chinese reporters. In China, protesters retaliated by attacking U.S. missions.
AL-QAIDA BOMBINGS OF U.S. EMBASSIES IN EAST AFRICA
Al-Qaida launched near-simultaneous truck bombings on Aug. 7, 1998, targeting U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people. Most of the victims were Kenyans but 12 Americans also died. The mastermind behind the attacks, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, eluded capture for 13 years before he was gunned down at a security checkpoint in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, a month after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan in May 2011.
ISLAMIC JIHAD’S ATTACK ON EGYPTIAN EMBASSY IN PAKISTAN
A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-packed truck into the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad on Nov. 19, 1995, killing 15 people, including the second secretary of the embassy and three Egyptian security guards. Egypt handed down a death sentence in absentia to its citizen Ayman al-Zawahri, who led the militant group and later merged it with al-Qaida, for this attack. Al-Zawahri succeeded bin Laden as al-Qaida’s chief.
JAPANESE EMBASSY HOSTAGE CRISIS IN PERU
Leftist Tupac Amaru rebels seized the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 17, 1996, during a party celebrating Emperor Akihito’s birthday, taking diplomats, guests and government officials hostage and demanding the release of their imprisoned comrades. The rebels held 72 hostages for 126 days before government troops stormed the premises; one hostage, two commandos and all rebels were killed. The story inspired the best-seller “Bel Canto” by U.S. author Ann Patchett.
ATTACKS ON ISRAELI EMBASSY, JEWISH CENTER IN ARGENTINA
A bomb flattened the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires on March 18, 1992, killing 29 people, including four Israelis. Two years later, a Jewish community center in the city was bombed, killing 85 people — the deadliest bombing ever in Argentina. Israel and Argentina have long accused Iran of being behind the bombings. Iran has denied any role in the attacks.
BEIRUT, U.S. EMBASSY BOMBING
A suicide bombing on April 18, 1983, at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killed 63 people, including 17 Americans. The victims were mostly embassy and CIA staff, but also several U.S. soldiers and a Marine. It was the deadliest attack on an American diplomatic mission up to that time. A shadowy Shiite group calling itself Islamic Holy War took responsibility.
IRAN, U.S. EMBASSY IN TEHRAN
Militant Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, and took 52 Americans hostages. The attackers demanded the return of the shah to Iran to face trial. President Jimmy Carter refused and launched a failed commando raid to free the captives. Six Americans who fled the initial takeover and found refuge with the Canadian ambassador later escaped Iran with the CIA’s help. Their escape was dramatized in the 2012 film “Argo.” Iran held the hostages for 444 days, releasing them only after the 1981 inauguration of President Ronald Reagan.
WEST GERMAN EMBASSY SIEGE IN STOCKHOLM
German anarchists of the Red Army Faction shot their way into the West German Embassy in Stockholm on April 24, 1975, demanding the release of their comrades from prisons back home. They took 12 embassy staff hostage, including Ambassador Dietrich Stoecher. During the standoff with the Swedish police, the attackers killed the military and the economic attachés before accidentally blowing up a part of the building.
ATTACK ON SAUDI EMBASSY IN KHARTOUM
The Palestinian terror group Black September attacked the Saudi Embassy in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, during a formal reception on March 1, 1973 and took 10 diplomats hostage. After President Richard Nixon refused to negotiate with the attackers, three Western hostages were killed, including George Curtis Moore, the U.S. chargé d’affaires.
ISRAELI EMBASSY IN BANGKOK HOSTAGE CRISIS
The Black September faction took over the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok on Dec. 28, 1972, and held six Israeli embassy staff hostage. The hijackers agreed after negotiations to leave in exchange for safe conduct to Egypt.
YUGOSLAV EMBASSY IN STOCKHOLM
Two Croatian separatists stormed the Yugoslav Embassy in Stockholm on April 7, 1971, where they held and mortally wounded Ambassador Vladimir Rolovic. The attackers were later caught and convicted in Sweden. One of them, Miro Baresic, was released in 1972 as part of demands by Croatian hijackers of a Swedish domestic flight. He was later extradited from Paraguay to Sweden to serve the remainder of his sentence.
(A journalist being killed and dismembered… We thought this was another Mexico story….)
(ISTANBUL) — Turkish media close to the president published images Wednesday of what it described as a 15-member “assassination squad” allegedly sent to target Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and of a black van later traveling from the Saudi consulate, where he went missing, to the consul’s home.
The release of the photographs and video raises pressure on Saudi Arabia a week after Khashoggi disappeared during a visit to the consulate. Turkish officials fear that the team killed the writer, who was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The kingdom has called the allegations “baseless,” but has not provided any evidence that Khashoggi left the consulate and did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
News channel 24 aired the video, suggesting that Khashoggi was inside of the black Mercedes Vito, which resembled one parked outside of the consulate when the writer walked in on Oct. 2. The channel said the van then drove some 1.2 miles to the consul’s home, where it parked inside a garage.
The Sabah newspaper, which is similarly close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published images of what it referred to as the “assassination squad” apparently taken at passport control. It said they checked into two hotels in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and left later that day.
Khashoggi had written a series of columns for the Washington Post that were critical of Saudi Arabia’s assertive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has led a widely publicized drive to reform the Sunni monarchy but has also presided over the arrests of activists and businessmen.
On Wednesday, the Post published a column by Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. She acknowledged the writer first visited the consulate on Sept. 28 “despite being somewhat concerned that he could be in danger.” He later returned Oct. 2 after being promised needed paperwork so the two could be married.
A surveillance video image surfaced Tuesday showing Khashoggi walking into the consulate in Istanbul’s upscale 4th Levent neighborhood. No evidence of him leaving the consulate has been made public, but Turkish officials also have yet to provide evidence he was kidnapped or killed.
“At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance,” Cengiz wrote. “I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate.”
She added: “Although this incident could potentially fuel a political crisis between the two nations, let us not lose sight of the human aspect of what happened.”
Khashoggi had sought to become a U.S. citizen after living in self-imposed exile since last year, fearing repercussions for his criticism of the prince, Cengiz wrote.
Trump, who took his first overseas trip as U.S. president to the kingdom and whose son-in-law Jared Kushner has close ties to Prince Mohammed, said Tuesday he had not yet talked to the Saudis about Khashoggi, “but I will be at some point,” without elaborating.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Tuesday that Saudi authorities have notified Ankara that they were “open to cooperation” and would allow the consulate building to be searched. It’s unclear when such a search would take place.
Embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil and must be protected by host nations. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to reassure its Western allies and the international community.
Share the Diplomatic Security Situation Reports with Friends!
Washington being Washington, the expectation is that books born in this city should focus on matters of high policy. On that front, Prudence Bushnell’s account of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya—and that of its counterpart in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania—on Aug. 7, 1998, does not disappoint. Indeed, her book, Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings, raises important questions about how the Washington policy establishment missed the clues that might have allowed it to foresee, and possibly prevent, those twin tragedies and asks whether a serious inquiry into those events might have avoided an even greater horror—that of 9/11.
But, Washington being Washington, many times books about policy are dry, academic treatises, as often written to showcase an author’s intellectual and analytical prowess as they are to advance an idea. The books in this category are often bloodless. To the extent actual people are featured, they mostly fall into that elite category of policymakers. If other people are discussed at all, it is often not as individuals but as nameless and faceless collectivities—the Afghans, the Europeans, the Africans. To her credit, this is not the book Bushnell, who was U.S. ambassador to Kenya at the time of the bombings, chose to write, a story about an incident that changed her life and should have changed U.S. foreign policy.
Indeed, Bushnell’s account is, first and foremost, about people. Part I begins, appropriately, not with the policymakers at all but with those whose lives were impacted by their decisions and lack of foresight. Principal among this group were the employees, American and Kenyan, who staffed the Nairobi embassy the day a truck bomb drove up alongside it and set off its deadly cargo. This piece of Bushnell’s book is a moving story of individual suffering and loss but also of small and large acts of courage, heroism, and, as the title denotes, resilience. It describes how a community torn apart by a vicious act of terrorism pulled itself back together to grieve for the colleagues who were killed and to help heal the physical and psychological wounds of the many more who had suffered. Further, it documents their efforts to tend to the enormous losses suffered by the larger Kenyan community—more than 200 people killed and an estimated 5,000 injured—all the while pursuing their official duties. This part of Bushnell’s tale is a story about dedicated public servants based far from America’s borders who rarely receive the attention or appreciation they deserve and whose sacrifices on behalf of the country are rarely explained or understood.
What makes this book compelling and unusual is how Bushnell’s modest and restrained writing reveals the example she herself set of leadership and courage. Interwoven with the larger narrative is her personal story, beginning with her growing up in a foreign service family. (Her father, as typical of the era, was the foreign service officer, her mother, a homemaker.) That family bred in her a commitment to public service, Bushnell writes, and nurtured the principles and values, as well as the personal strength that came from them, that led me to ask her to work with me in the years prior to her ambassadorship, first as the deputy chief of mission in Dakar, Senegal, and later as my principal deputy in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. They also formed the foundations of Bushnell’s adult ethical leadership. Those principles and values are on full display in the description of Bushnell’s steady stewardship of her embassy community, both before and after the bombing. They are most evident in her determined efforts, in the months leading up to the bombings, to call Washington’s attention to her embassy’s extreme vulnerability to just such an attack, efforts that earned her admonishments from senior State Department officials for “overloading circuits” and asking for what seemed to Washington not just impossible but unnecessary. Still, she persisted. That same principled leadership was again in evidence in the horrible aftermath of the bombing, when, putting aside her own physical and psychological injuries, she summoned the strength to give both comfort and direction to her shaken embassy team while firmly asserting control over the legions of responders from Washington, whose sudden arrival often brought more distress than help.
Lest this sound like more memoir than policy narrative, the book always brings readers back to policy. In Part II of her book, Bushnell describes the many people—among them, Michael Scheuer, the director of the CIA’s Alec Station, charged with gathering intelligence on Osama bin Laden; his counterpart at the FBI, John O’Neill; and Richard Clarke, who directed counterterrorism efforts at the National Security Council—who, however well-intentioned, had opportunities to foresee and prevent what happened on that fateful August day but who failed. Bushnell documents that history with meticulous and relentless detail: She describes how in the 1980s, U.S. support for jihadi insurgents fighting a Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan sowed the seeds of al Qaeda and radical Islamist groups like it and explains how the failure to analyze and understand the roots of Islamist extremism led the United States to act in ways that spawned further radicalization, as well as how, once the Soviets had been forced out of Afghanistan, these radical groups turned their ire against the United States.
Drawing on official and journalistic reports, Bushnell recounts how affiliates of those groups found their way to the United States itself and how—despite surveillance from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies—they went on to plot and execute a series of fatal attacks against U.S. interests: the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, the October 1993 attack on U.S. forces in Somalia, and eventually the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. To help us understand how this was possible, she ably describes how officials in Washington, mired in bureaucratic turf battles and trapped in organizational stovepipes, failed to share the information that might have allowed them to connect the dots. That same dysfunction prevented essential information from being shared with Bushnell and her team in Nairobi, which may have enabled them to prepare for, and if possible avoid, the disaster. Only later, and largely through the mainstream press, did Bushnell learn that the CIA and the FBI had been amassing information about potential threats to the Nairobi embassy. “I had no idea that the FBI had known about al-Qaeda and had been tracking bin Laden ever since the investigation into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,” she writes.
In effect, in Part II of her book, Bushnell has written the report that the U.S. government never wrote, the report that the special State Department Accountability Review Board convened in the aftermath of the bombings should have written but did not.
Bushnell has written the report that the U.S. government never wrote, the report that the special State Department Accountability Review Board convened in the aftermath of the bombings should have written but did not.
In so doing, she has raised some tough questions: How was it possible for bin Laden’s associates to plan and execute terrorist acts against the United States, even as they were known to and under the surveillance of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies? Why, in the aftermath of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history, did Washington not convene a full-scale inquiry into the events leading up to the bombings? And, had it done so, would the information uncovered—both about the enemies confronted and the weaknesses in its own institutions—have enabled it to avert the tragedy of 9/11?
Here, Bushnell quotes from the 9/11 Commission Report itself: “The tragedy of the embassy bombings provided an opportunity for a full examination, across the government, of the national security threat that Bin Ladin posed. Such an examination could have made clear to all that issues were at stake that was much larger than the domestic politics of the moment.”
“A gripping diplomatic thriller that tells the harrowing saga of the 1998 bombing of Embassy Nairobi. Ambassador Bushnell’s first-person account provides lessons of leadership, crisis management, and policy acumen. The tale dramatically illustrates the terrorism danger diplomats confront daily.”—Ambassador Robert E. Gribbin III (Ret.)
(Ambassador Robert E. Gribbin III (Ret.) 2018-03-02)
“Ambassador Prudence Bushnell is a true professional with the toughness, grit, courage, and compassion that marks the kind of superb leader you want in charge during a crisis. I witnessed her remarkable composure, even when personally injured, and her take-command leadership style. This book is important for many reasons. It vividly presents a profile in courage; an understanding rarely appreciated about our foreign service men and women working in difficult assignments; a set of valuable lessons learned; and a case study in leadership during crisis. Every American should read this book.”—Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
(Anthony C. Zinni 2018-03-01)
“With heroes and villains aplenty, this riveting cold tale of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya has startling relevance. As today’s State Department struggles to survive a gutting by its own government, Prudence Bushnell reminds us just how important and dangerous the job of diplomacy can be.”—Rheta Grimsley Johnson, syndicated columnist and author of Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana
(Rheta Grimsley Johnson 2018-03-01)
“Prudence Bushnell’s name is not household familiar—but it should be. She was at the center of one of the most infamous terrorist attacks on American people and property in history. And she was a woman in the highest ranks of the State Department when such a thing was rare. She tells her story with integrity and intelligence—and gives lessons on leadership based on life experience.”—Barbara Kellerman, James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School
(Barbara Kellerman 2018-07-30)
“For all readers, Ambassador Bushnell’s searing account of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings provides profound lessons in leadership. She demonstrates time and again her deep commitment to the safety and mission of the people she led. Her willingness to battle paralyzing bureaucracy, both before and after the bombings, exhibits her decency and humanity in the midst of the chaos and evil that the Embassy experienced. She devoted much of her career to improving leadership at the Department of State. She is a role model for future leaders.”—Chris Kojm, director of the Leadership, Ethics, & Practice Initiative, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Prudence Bushnell is an American diplomat who has held a series of leadership positions with the U.S. Department of State, including deputy assistant secretary for African Affairs, ambassador to the republics of Kenya and Guatemala, and dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute. She is retired from the Foreign Service and founder of the Levitt Leadership Institute at Hamilton College in New York. She has earned numerous awards for her leadership and diplomacy, including three honorary doctoral degrees. For more information on the author visit prudencebushnell.com.
Prudence Bushnell was serving as United States Ambassador to Kenya in 1998 when al-Qaeda detonated a car bomb outside the embassy, killing over 200 people. In this memoir, Bushnell examines her actions during and after the attack. She also looks at the history leading up to the attacks, weaving in her own experiences in the State Department, as she attempts to piece together how they happened and how little the U.S. has grown form the experience. The same cannot be said for Bushnell, who candidly includes passages on her own emotional growth following the bombing. This book covers a lot of ground, but Bushnell is a more than capable guide, bouncing easily between the personal and policy sections.
One of the great strengths of this book resides in the fact that Prudence Bushnell is a diplomat, not a politician. Her recollections are sharp, insightful, and, most interestingly, critical. She has no problem examining the failures of the Clinton administration in funding embassy security, nor future administrations’ similar issues. Her frustrations with airing these concerns only to be met with silence is palpable. Similar sections also highlight the problems in Washington surrounding its continued approach to terrorism
In a lesser work, these moments might feel self-serving, but Bushnell carefully backs up her analysis with facts and experience. After all, her security vulnerability predictions proved correct after the bombing attack. Moreover, many of the grievances discussed later in the book about current State Department action, particularly funding, are still evolving, making this a troubling (though necessary) read.
While the bombing always remains at least in the periphery throughout this book, it’s not always the sole focus. Bushnell had a long career with the State Department, and it’s fascinating reading about her experiences maneuvering in such a male-dominated environment, and there’s a lot to be noted here about leadership. It’s insightful and provides a glimpse of how her worldview has developed and how it served her in her career. As well, the sections on serving in Rwanda and her post-retirement private sector careers are standouts.
Bushnell highlights a lot of problems the U.S. has navigating on the world stage. Much of this is disheartening and concerning. However, without spoiler, she ends this book with one of the most inspiring and optimistic passages I’ve ever read and is the real essence of this entire work.
Share the Diplomatic Security Situation Reports with Friends!
The U.S. has officially blamed Iran for recent attacks near Washington’s diplomatic presence in Iraq, where the two powers have competed for influence in the latest venue of a decades-long feud sparked by an embassy hostage crisis.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that “Iran is the origin of the current threat to Americans in Iraq” and was “to blame for the attacks against our mission in Basra and our embassy in Baghdad,” adding that his department’s “intelligence in this regard is solid.” Iran has the support of a number of semi-official Shiite Muslim militias across Iraq, and Pompeo cited “repeated incidents of indirect fire from elements of those militias” against the two U.S. sites in a Friday statement announcing the closure of the consulate general in the southern city of Basra.
Iran, whose own consulate general in Basra was burned down last month, has rejected these charges. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said Saturday that “the ridiculous justification [provided by Americans] for the closure of the U.S. Consulate General in Basra, which came after weeks of propaganda and false allegations against Iran and the Iraqi forces, is a suspicious move aimed at evading responsibility and pinning the blame on others responsibility and pinning the blame on others”
As unrest once again grips Iraq, the ripples of a long-standing dispute between the U.S. and Iran has again highlighted a history of both countries targeting one another’s diplomats.
Poisoned relations between the U.S. and Iran began in 1979. Prior to that, Iran was under the rule of the pro-West Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the U.S. stepped in to protect British oil interests when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh challenged the monarch’s absolute power and tried to nationalize the energy sector. With Mossadegh deposed and imprisoned in a 1953 CIA-sponsored coup, Pahlavi went on to rule for another quarter of a century before he himself was forced to flee the Islamic Revolution, which brought the current revolutionary Shiite Muslim government into power.
Upset over Western meddling in Iranian affairs and demanding that an ill Pahlavi be extradited to face justice at home, supporters of the new clerical administration overran the U.S. Embassy and held 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens hostage. A U.S. Army attempt to rescue the detainees by force ended in failure when a helicopter crashed into a transport aircraft, killing eight soldiers. An Iranian civilian was also killed when U.S. forces bombed the truck he was riding in.
The hostages were ultimately released on the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 following extensive negotiations. Although the U.S. would go on to secretly sell arms to Iran while also supporting Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, relations between Washington and Tehran were effectively squashed. Their relationship further deteriorated with growing Iranian support for foreign Shiite Muslim movements such as the Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah in Lebanon, both of whom have been blamed for the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut—an attack that killed up to 63 people, including 17 U.S. officials and soldiers.
The U.S. officially embargoed Iranian trade in 1995 and these sanctions expanded as Iran embarked on a nuclear program, which Tehran always maintained was solely for peaceful purposes. Though Iran was a bitter opponent of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, it also backed Shiite Muslim insurgents targeting U.S. troops after the 2003 invasion that toppled him as it expanded ties with the new majority-Shiite Muslim administration in Baghdad. In January 2007, the U.S. raided the Iranian Liaison Office in Erbil, the capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Autonomous Region, accusing five staff members of being agents of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and detaining them.
The local Kurdish government, which had ties to both the U.S. and Iran, vouched for the individuals and prevented the U.S. from detaining other individuals at Erbil’s airport. The five liaison office employees were ultimately released two and a half years later in 2009 as part of the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which sought to establish a framework for the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran remained largely frozen until President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani began negotiations to lift international sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to considerably restrict its nuclear activities. A multinational accord endorsed by both parties, along with China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K., was announced in June 2015.
President Donald Trump, however, has accused Iran of using unfrozen funds to further destabilize the region via support for paramilitary movements and the development of ballistic missiles. Capitalizing on conservative outrage toward the nuclear deal, he demanded that the terms be renegotiated, something that Iran has refused to consider. Even as both the U.S. and Iran devoted assets toward battling the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), relations again declined rapidly and Trump announced that he would leave the nuclear agreement in May.
The Trump administration has continued to press the international community to isolate Iran, even without the support of European allies and major powers China and Russia. The U.S. has increasingly aligned its position with that of longtime Iranian foes Israel and Saudi Arabia, which itself severed ties with the Islamic Republic after protestors responded to the kingdom’s execution of an influential Shiite Muslim cleric by torching Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran in early 2016.
(UPI) — The U.S. government has closed a U.S. consulate in Iraq temporarily and evacuated diplomats over security risks from Iran, administration officials said.
The U.S. consulate in the southern Iraq city of Basra was shut down Friday hours after a rocket attack in the area blamed on Iranian-backed militias.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo ordered the evacuation of diplomats from the consulate, the U.S. U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Iraq announced in a statement.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will continue providing consular service in the area, the statement said.
The southern part of Iraq has faced violent protests against government corruption and lack of basic services since June with arson attacks of several government buildings earlier this month.
“We remain strongly committed to supporting Iraqis in the southern provinces and throughout the country,” U.S. Department of State Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
Hours before Pompeo’s decision to close the consulate, rockets or mortars landed near the building, an official said.
The U.S. consulate has faced credible threats from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, a senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal.
On Friday, a senior Iran military leader warned the United States against crossing Iran’s “red lines.”
Brigadier General Hossein Salami said the perpetrators of a terrorist attack on a military parade Saturday in southwest Iran that killed at least 29 people were backed by regional elements including the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo denies that the United States had anything to do with the military parade attack.
Share the Diplomatic Security Situation Reports with Friends!
MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Three people were killed in a suicide car bombing by Islamist group al Shabaab which hit a European Union armoured convoy in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Monday, police and an emergency service worker said.
The blast struck the convoy around 12:10 PM local time on Industrial Road, a major thoroughfare in the heart of the city.
“We carried two dead locals and four others injured,” Abdikadir Abdirahman of AMIN Ambulance Services told Reuters.
Police said the bomber had also died in the blast.
A Reuters witness saw men towing their damaged vehicle after the explosion hit its rear end. The armoured vehicles had Italian and EU flags on them.
The al Shabaab group, which frequently carries out attacks in the Horn of Africa country, claimed responsibility.
The Italian military said a convoy of five vehicles returning from a training activity had been attacked but that no one was wounded or killed.
“The vehicle, with four soldiers on board, was slightly damaged and able to return to the base,” it said.
Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government and impose its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.
The European Union is one of the major sources of funding for the African Union-mandated peace-keeping force AMISOM which helps defend Somalia’s central government against the Islamists.
Somalia has been engulfed by violence and lawlessness since the early 1990s after the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
Additional reporting Steve Scherer in Rome; writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by William Maclean, Ed Osmond
Brazilians are as worried as ever about getting shot while driving, but have less money in a stagnant economy to spend on protecting themselves. Enter the second-hand bulletproof car.
Whether to provide genuinely-needed protection or just to show off, the bulletproofed personal vehicle has usually been associated with the rich, but in Brazil, armored cars are far more common than in most countries.
Industry experts consider Brazil’s $245 million (one billion reais) bulletproofing industry the largest in the world.
But with an economy only just crawling out of recession –- one percent growth in 2017 came on the heels of a steep two year-recession — worried drivers are searching for budget options.
“I like cars, but I don’t feel comfortable spending a lot of money on one,” said lawyer Mauricio Paulo, who drives a second-hand bulletproof Volvo XC 60.
This is the 40-year-old Paulo’s fourth armored vehicle.
He got his first armored car after being robbed while he stopped at a traffic light. The birth of his daughter 18 months ago convinced him he still needs to have one — and stay frugal.
“I need a bulletproof car because of lack of safety,” he said. “I went for a used car because I’m going to spend less money to move around safely.”
To modify a car costs around $13,000 (53,600 reais), pretty much like buying an additional vehicle.
Going for an already used and already armored vehicle gets the price tag down by between 10 and 40 percent, according to varying estimates from dealers and owners.
Armored vehicle capital
Another big market, Mexico, bulletproofed 2,986 cars in 2017, one of the best years the industry there has had. But even in a tough climate last year, Brazil’s armoring industry still put out over 15,000.
Armored private vehicles are especially common among the middle class in the economic hub of Sao Paulo, regardless of the fact that the mega-city is one of the safest parts in an often extremely violent country.
Almost three quarters of bulletproofing work is done in Sao Paulo state, and most of the country’s 150,000 armored vehicles are also in the state, according to the bulletproofing association Abrablin.
Neither Abrablin nor the used car sellers’ body Fenauto keeps track of second-hand armored sales.
But industry experts say it is a real trend here.
“This year, the used car market is hot,” said Fabio Rovedo de Mello, director of a Sao Paulo-based bulletproofing company.
“Because of the situation the country is going through, the demand for used cars has gone up.”
Sales of new cars, in general, plummeted to a 10-year low in 2016 in Brazil. The niche market in new armored cars mirrored the trend, dropping 20 percent last year, compared to 2016.
“When the new market doesn’t sell, there’s higher demand for used cars, because a person can’t afford to buy a new one,” said Abrablin president Marcelo Christiansen, who also heads up a bulletproofing firm.
“Armored cars are a lot more expensive, so the option was to go for a used car that fell within my budget,” said Eliane Wakatsuki, 39, a manager at a hydroelectric firm, who was test-driving a used Mercedes Benz GLA 200 at a luxury bulletproofing outfit. Even those drivers who still buy new cars and get the armoring added are looking for deals.
Last year, the best-selling new car for bulletproofing was the Toyota Corolla, the cheapest and smallest that can handle armor, which can add up to 12 percent to the vehicle’s body weight.
LONDON (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday that Kurdish activists attacked its embassy in Paris and it accused French police of arriving late on the scene.
Paris police confirmed officers had responded to an incident at the embassy on Friday afternoon, but declined to comment on the speed of their response.
Fars news agency reported that about 15 Kurdish activists burned the Iranian flag in front of the embassy during the incident and broke some windows with stones.
They also threw fire extinguishers and computers at the gate
but did not manage to enter the premises, Fars said.
“The French government should take all necessary measures to protect Iranian diplomatic missions in that country,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, the French police did not arrive as expected on the scene on time, although the assailants were members of a terrorist organization,” he said.
Qasemi said some of the attackers were arrested.
Paris police told Reuters that officers had detained a dozen individuals outside the embassy but that they were released when the embassy said it would not seek charges against them.
“A security detail was put in place with the embassy’s full agreement,” Paris police added.
However, Qasemi said Iran has asked France to put on trial and punish the assailants, and to inform the Iranian government of the verdicts.
Tehran has accused France of supporting opposition groups which seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and are classified by Tehran as terrorist organizations. France has rejected Iranian accusations.
Last week, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired seven missiles at the headquarters in northern Iraq of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an armed opposition group that fights for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community.
Iranian media said at least 11 people were killed.
France has already told its diplomats and foreign ministry officials to postpone indefinitely all non-essential travel to Iran, citing a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France.
France is also investigating a foiled plot to bomb a rally held by an exiled Iranian opposition group near Paris that was attended by U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani on June 30.
An Iranian diplomat was arrested in Germany in connection with that plot.
Any hardening of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran. France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which Trump pulled out of in May.