Attacks on U.S. Embassies and Consulates that Killed American Diplomats before Obama became President

Tuesday, May 06, 2014
U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut, 1983 (AP photo)

The fatal attack two years ago on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which congressional Republicans continue to use as an issue against President Barack Obama and other Democrats, particularly former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, serves as reminder of how dangerous U.S. diplomatic postings have been under presidents of both political parties.


The September 11, 2012, assault that killed four in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, represented the sixth deadly attack on embassy or consulate personnel since 2000.


Two of the previous five attacks this century occurred in Pakistan: David Foy, a facilities maintenance officer stationed in Karachi, was killed by a suicide bomber in 2006; Barbara J. Green, an embassy worker in Islamabad, died as a result of church bombing in 2002. That same year, a U.S. Agency for International Development officer, Laurence Foley, was shot and killed in Amman, Jordan.


The other two incidents this century took place in Khartoum, Sudan, where diplomat and humanitarian aid official John Granville was gunned down in 2008, and in Baghdad, Iraq, where agent Edward Seitz with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security was killed by mortar fire in 2004.


The 1990s witnessed four attacks directed at American diplomatic stations, with the worst coming on August 7, 1998, when al Qaeda militants bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


The Nairobi truck bomb was by far the worst of the two, as 224 people died, including 12 Americans. The car bombing in Tanzania killed 10 individuals, all local residents.

The other two attacks that decade came in Pakistan in 1995, where two U.S. consulate workers were killed and the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 1993, when a CIA officer was shot to death in what might have been a robbery attempt.


From the late 1960s to the late 1980s, there were at least 14 shootings or bombings targeting American diplomats.


Five U.S. ambassadors were killed in just 11 years, one each in Guatemala (1968), Sudan (1973), Cyprus (1974), Lebanon (1978) and Afghanistan (1979).


In 1983, a truck laden with explosives crashed into the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and exploded, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

List of US Diplomats Killed Abroad (USA Today)

New Inquiry Sought on Benghazi Attack (by Jeremy Peters, New York Times)

1983 United States Embassy Bombing (Wikipedia)

Pakistan Blasts Kill U.S. Diplomat (CNN)

Fast facts: The Embassy Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (CNN)

Bipartisan Senate Report Says Benghazi Attacks were Preventable, Blames CIA Secrecy and State Dept. (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Failure to Heed 2009 Report on Diplomatic Security May Have Contributed to Benghazi Attack (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


Steve Johnson 10 years ago
You are only including attacks with American fatalities. If you expand your list of attacks on US diplomatic facilities to include those where only locals were killed, it will increase to include Sana'a and Jeddah in 2000's.

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