20 September 1984

A suicide bomber in a car attacks the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing twenty-two people.

1984 United States embassy annex bombing
Part of the Lebanese Civil War
US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon (Muslim West side) in September, 1984 Photo by Nancy Wong.tif
LocationBeirut, Lebanon
DateSeptember 20, 1984
11:44 a.m.
Attack type
Suicide car bomb
Deaths24 (including the bomber)
Islamic Republic of Iran

On September 20, 1984, the Shi'a Islamic militant group Hezbollah, with support and direction from the Islamic Republic of Iran, carried out a suicide car bombing targeting the U.S. embassy annex in East Beirut, Lebanon. The attack killed 24 people.

Hezbollah had also used suicide car or truck bombs in the April 1983 U.S. embassy bombing and the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings.


In July 1984, the U.S. had relocated its embassy operations from West Beirut to the relative security of Aukar, a Christian suburb of East Beirut.[1] When on September 20, 1984, the attacker sped his van laden with 3,000 pounds (1360 kg) of explosives toward the six-story embassy, crucial security measures had not yet been completed at the complex, including a massive steel gate. The van was heading for the entrance of the diplomatic facility, but did not get within ten yards of the building after the driver was shot by a bodyguard of the British ambassador and Lebanese embassy guards and lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle detonated at 11:44 a.m. after striking a parked van.[2]

The explosion "ripped off the front of the embassy, shredding glass, bending steel bars and destroying cars in a nearby parking lot." The attack killed a total of 24 people (including the suicide bomber). Only two of the dead were American: Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth V. Welch of the U.S. Army and Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Ray Wagner of the U.S. Navy, who were both assigned to the U.S. Defense Attache Office in Beirut. The majority of those killed were Lebanese, "either local employees or people seeking visas". Of the injured, the U.S. Ambassador, Reginald Bartholomew, was slightly hurt, as well as the British Ambassador, David Miers, who was meeting with Bartholomew at the time of explosion.[3]


The Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call a few hours after the explosion. The caller said, "The operation goes to prove that we will carry out our previous promise not to allow a single American to remain on Lebanese soil."[3] The U.S. government understood that Hezbollah had carried out the attack under the cover name of IJO with the support of Iran.[4] Through satellite reconnaissance, U.S. intelligence discovered that a mock-up of the annex had been created at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard-run Sheikh Abdullah barracks in Baalbek to practice for the attack.[5][6]

Legal cases

Under the amended Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, victims of the bombing and their families have filed cases against the Islamic Republic of Iran, holding it responsible for its role in the attack and demanding compensation.

  • Estate of Doe, et al. v Republic of Iran, et al. (2013) – 58 foreign national employees and one American employee that were killed or injured in the 1983 embassy bombing and 1984 embassy annex bombing are awarded $8.4 billion. The judge ruled "that the attacks were carried out by the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, known most commonly as Hezbollah, operating with Iranian support and encouragement."[7]
  • Brewer v. Islamic Republic of Iran (2009) – Security guard Richard Brewer and his family are awarded $310 million in damages. Brewer was injured in the bombing. The judge ruled "Hezbollah received substantial funds and support from Iran via its Ministry of Information and Security and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. This court concludes that defendants provided 'material support and resources' to Hezbollah."[8]


  1. ^ "Neighbors of Embassy Say They're in Danger". The New York Times. 24 September 1984.
  2. ^ Wright, Robin (2001). Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam. Simon and Schuster. pp. 106–108. sacred rage.
  3. ^ a b "23 Die, Including 2 Americans, in Terrorist Car Bomb Attack on the U.S. Embassy at Beirut". The New York Times. 21 September 1984.
  4. ^ Levitt, Matthew (2013). Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God. p. 23.
  5. ^ Crist, David (2012). The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran. pp. 151–152.
  6. ^ Willis, David (2004). The First War on Terrorism: Counter-terrorism Policy during the Reagan Administration. pp. 84–85.
  7. ^ "DC Judge Awards Hizballah Victims $8.4 Billion". Investigate Project on Terrorism. 10 May 2013.
  8. ^ "Iran Ordered to Pay $310 Million to U.S. Embassy Bombing Victim". Bloomberg. 16 October 2009.

20 September 1967

RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 is launched Clydebank, Scotland.

The following day, Wednesday, September 20, 1967, a ship that would play a very important part in the life of the Port of New York, Cunard’s QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 was launched at Clydebank, Scotland. She has since visited the port more times than probably any other ocean liner.

The Port of New York was not the scene for the historical maritime event of this day. It took place over 3000 miles away at Clydebank, Scotland in the shipyard of John Brown & Company Limited. An ocean liner that was destined to play a major role in the life of the Port of New York was under construction there. On September 20, 1967 Her Majesty The Queen named the new Cunard liner that was being built in the same place as many Cunard liners of the past. On the same stocks were constructed QUEEN ELIZABETH, QUEEN MARY, AQUITANIA, and LUSITANIA. This newest Cunarder, yard No.736, known up to now as “Q4” was scheduled to be launched on this day.

20 September 1854

British and French troops defeat Russians in Crimea in the Battle of Alma.


Battle of Alma, victory by the British and the French in the Crimean War that left the Russian naval base of Sevastopol vulnerable and endangered the entire Russian position in the war. It is generally considered the first battle of the Crimean War.

Commanded by Prince Aleksandr Menshikov, the Russians had occupied a position on the heights above the Alma River in southwestern Crimea, thus blocking the road to Sevastopol. In order to advance, the allied French and British army would have to assault Telegraph Hill, and to the east, Kourgane Hill, both of which were topped with Russian redoubts. The valley in between led to Sevastopol, but no advance would be possible, even with their numerical advantage, if the Russians held the two hills.

The allies landed on the Crimean Peninsula some 35 miles north of Sevastopol on September 14. Suffering from dysentery and cholera, it would be six days before the armies headed south. It was at the Alma, the second of the east-west rivers north of the Sevastopol, where they enjoyed a prime defensive position, that the Russians decided to stand their ground on September 20.

To attack the Russians, the French commander, General Jacques St. Arnaud, decided to cross the river under the cover of a naval bombardment and scale the cliffs with a detachment of French troops. This would divert the Russians and allow the British to attack the redoubts. The French part of the plan began successfully but lost momentum, and the Russians restored their lines. As a result, the British attack faltered and their battalions became entangled in chaos.