Amerikanske fly angriber Tripoli - Historie

Amerikanske fly angriber Tripoli - Historie

Efter et terrorangreb i Tyskland, hvor en amerikansk tjenestemand blev dræbt, iværksatte USA et luftangreb på Libyen. Mål blev ramt i Tripoli og Benghazi. Den libyske stærkmand Muammar Qaddafis hovedkvarter blev også ramt.

Libyen, amerikansk angreb (1986)

USAs luftangreb på Libyen i april 1986 markerede det første store amerikanske militære svar på moderne terrorisme. Den umiddelbare årsag var et terrorbomber i Vestberlin ti dage tidligere, en hændelse, som amerikanske efterretningskilder forbandt den libyske stærkmand Muammar Qadhafi. Præsident Ronald Reagans svar var et massivt bombeangreb på faciliteter i Tripoli og Benghazi, landets to større byer. Selvom angrebene fra 1986 ikke bragte en ende på Qaddafis statsstøttede terrorisme, bombede 1988 på Pan Am fly 103 over Lockerbie, Skotland, mindre end to år senere — markerede det første skridt på en lang vej mod åben konfrontation med terrorisme og terrorsponsorerende stater.

Tidlige provokationer. Qadhafi overtog magten i 1969, og i løbet af 1970'erne og 1980'erne brugte han sin olierigdom til at sponsorere terrorbevægelser i 50 eller flere lande fra Nordirland til Filippinerne. Han foretog også andre aggressive træk, såsom hans erklæring i 1973 om, at Sidra -bugten mellem Tripoli og Benghazi tilhørte Libyen.

USA nægtede at anerkende denne påstand, og i august 1981 — på ordre fra Reagan — gennemførte den amerikanske sjette flåde øvelser i bugten. Resultatet var en træfning mellem to amerikanske F-14 Tomcat-krigere og to sovjetfremstillede Su-22 jagerbomber. Amerikanerne skød begge libyske fly ned, hvis piloter skubbede ud og blev reddet af deres egne styrker, hændelsen beviste Sidewinder-missilers overlegenhed over sovjetiske Atoll-luft-toair-missiler.

Operation El Dorado Canyon. I løbet af de næste fem år voksede spændingerne mellem Reagan -administrationen og Qadhafi -regimet, hvilket øgede dets sponsorat af og direkte involvering i terrorisme. Den 24. marts 1986 lancerede Libyen seks SA-5-missiler mod den amerikanske sjette flåde, der udførte manøvrer i nærheden i Middelhavet. Angrebene mislykkedes, og i efterfølgende strejker og kontraangreb sank amerikanerne to libyske fartøjer. Den 5. april 1986 eksploderede en bombe i Berlins diskotek La Belle, hvor en amerikansk soldat og en tyrkisk civil blev dræbt og omkring 200 andre sårede, herunder 63 amerikanske soldater.

Ti dage senere, sent på aftenen den 15. april, forberedte USA sig på luftangreb mod libyske grundmål i fem områder: Aziziya -kasernen, kendt som kommando- og kontrolpost for terroraktiviteter, militæranlæggene i Tripolis internationale lufthavn, Side Bilal -base, siges at være en facilitet til uddannelse af terrorister i undervandsabotage i Jamahariya -militærbarakken i Benghazi, en anden terrorkommandopost og Benina -flybasen sydøst for Benghazi.

Angrebet, kendt som Operation El Dorado Canyon, involverede mere end 100 amerikanske fly. Den vigtigste slagstyrke var i form af Navy A-6'er fra hangarskibene USS Amerika og USS Koralhavet, og Air Force F-111'er fra luftbaser i Det Forenede Kongerige. Den franske regerings afvisning af at give myndighed til en amerikansk overflyvning af deres land komplicerede meget emner og nødvendiggjorde tankning af flyet i en meget længere flyvning rundt på den iberiske halvø.

På trods af denne forhindring kunne den amerikanske styrke lancere sit angreb kl. 02.00 lokal tid den 16. april. I løbet af 12 minutter faldt amerikanske styrker 60 tons (61 tons) ammunition og stødte på ubetydelig modstand fra libyerne, der undlod at få et enkelt fly i luften til at udfordre angriberne.

Efterspil. Qadhafis agenter deltog senere i Lockerbie -bombningen, men for det meste afkøles hans interesse for international terrorisme efter april 1986. Efter en langvarig ordstrid indvilligede han i marts 1999 i at vende to mistænkte i Lockerbie -bombningen, men hævdede, at Amerikanere, der gennemførte bombeangrebene i 1986, bør sigtes for at dræbe 31 mennesker og sårede 226 andre.

I maj 2001 indrømmede Qadhafi over for en tysk avis, at Libyen havde stået bag diskotekbombningen 15 år tidligere, en tilsyneladende gengældelse for USAs forlis af de to skibe i marts 1986. I bombningen af ​​La Belle havde han modtaget hjælp fra den østtyske Stasi-efterretningstjeneste, men ifølge Stasi-filer, der blev hentet efter afslutningen af ​​den kolde krig, afskrækkede østtyskerne aktivt mellemøstlig terrorisme i Tyskland efter USA's gengældelse mod Libyen i april 1986. La Belle -bombesagen, som ikke kunne have været mulig før tysk genforening, gik endelig for retten i 2001, og i november fandt en tysk domstol fire personer skyldige i angrebene. De omfattede en tysk kvinde og tre mænd: en palæstinenser, en libanesisk født tysker og en libysk.


Flere fly beskadiget i Tripoli -missilangreb

Et raketangreb i Libyen har efterladt flere fly beskadiget i Mitiga Lufthavn i Tripoli i dag. Raketterne, der formodes at blive affyret af Hafter-tilknyttede militser, ramte mindst to passagerfly tilhørende Afriqiyah Airways og Buraq Airlines. Ingen af ​​flyene havde passagerer om bord dengang.

Mindst to fly blev beskadiget

Raketter, der blev affyret i Tripolis internationale lufthavn, har ramt mindst to passagerfly og forårsaget alvorlige skader. Rapportering på AA.com tyder på, at hele ni raketter blev affyret i Mitiga Lufthavn øst for Tripoli natten over. Den ene, siger de, ramte tæt på lufthavnen og forårsagede 'frygt og panik' blandt passagerer og personale.

I en erklæring udgivet af Buraq Air, rapporteret i AirportHaber, sagde flyselskabet, at granatdele ramte et passagerfly, og at der var opstået store skader. Flyselskabet sagde, at flyet ikke længere var brugbart på grund af skaden. Lokale medier rapporterer, at flyet sad ubeboet på forklædet på tidspunktet for angrebet.

I det nylige raketangreb fra militsstyrker i Tripolis-Mitiga Lufthavn (HLLT), Libyen, blev to kommercielle jetfly, en Airbus af Afriqiyah og en B737 fra Buraq Air ramt af beskydninger, der forårsagede store skader. Begge fly stod på det tidspunkt parkeret tomme. @Lyobserverhttps: //t.co/T8CoqWDCIl pic.twitter.com/Qz3GZnGWz7

& mdash JACDEC (@JacdecNew) 3. marts 2020

Et andet fly, der menes at tilhøre Afriqiyah Airways, rapporteres også at have pådraget sig skader. Flyselskabet delte fotos af skaden online, med talsmand Imran Zabadi rapporterede, at dette fly også var for hårdt beskadiget til at blive brugt.

Flytyperne menes at være en Boeing 737 fra Buraq Air og en A320 af Afriqiyah. Skaden på disse fly vil være et stort slag for begge flyselskaber. Buraq Air driver en flåde på kun seks fly, alle Boeing 737 -varianter. Fire er Boeing 737 Classics, mens to er den nyere Boeing 737-800-model.

#Libyen & #8211 #GNA -fotos, der viser skader påført Buraq Air Boeing 737 og Airbus A320 efter #LNA -beskydning af Mitiga International Airport i #Tripoli pic.twitter.com/RDlFFOq1iT

& mdash Oded Berkowitz (@Oded121351) 3. marts 2020

Afriqiyah Airways har en større flåde at falde tilbage på, med 15 fly i drift, ifølge Planespotters. Flyselskabet driver en all-Airbus-flåde, herunder et A300, 11 A320 familiefly og tre A330 widebodies.

Tripolis Mitiga lufthavn var først for nylig genåbnet

Flyvninger blev kun genoptaget i den krigshærgede Tripoli-lufthavn i december sidste år. Lufthavnen havde gennemgået en tre måneders suspension af tjenester på grund af gentagne raketangreb på anlægget. Lufthavnen var ofte blevet beskudt siden lanceringen af ​​en offensiv i april 2019 af Khalifa Haftar -militæret som en del af en kampagne for at tage hovedstaden fra National Accord -regeringen.

Libyens østbaserede LNA siger angrebet tyrkisk luftforsvar i Tripolis Mitiga lufthavn https://t.co/DqABxNnv8E pic.twitter.com/51SC42gLyW

& mdash The Pakistan Post (@TPPNewsOfficial) 3. marts 2020

Afriqiyah Airways og Libyan Airlines startede først fra lufthavnen den 12. december 2019. Andre libyske flyselskaber, herunder Libyan Wings og Buraq, fulgte snart efter. Det var de første flyvninger, der blev angrebet af et 1. september angreb, hvor fire mennesker blev såret.

Raketangreb har imidlertid været stigende de seneste uger. Et angreb, der fandt sted i slutningen af ​​februar, tvang suspenderet flyvninger ifølge Reuters.

Mens libyske flyselskaber er forbudt fra Europa, er der hyppige flyvninger til Istanbul og Tunis fra lufthavnen. Dagens angreb vil imidlertid igen sætte spørgsmålstegn ved sikkerhed i lufthavnen og kunne se det reducere operationen igen.


Denne dag i historien | 1986 USA lancerer luftangreb på Libyen

Mindst 100 mennesker er døde, efter at amerikanske fly bombede mål i den libyske hovedstad, Tripoli, og Benghazi -regionen.
Omkring 66 amerikanske jetfly, nogle af dem, der flyver fra britiske baser, lancerede et angreb omkring kl. 0100 mandag.
Det Hvide Huss talsmand, Larry Speakes, har sagt, at angrebet var rettet mod centrale militære steder, men rapporter tyder på, at missiler også ramte Bin Ashur, en tætbefolket forstad i hovedstaden.
Oberst Muamar Gaddafi -boligforeningen tog et direkte hit, der dræbte Hanna Gaddafi, den adopterede datter af den libyske leder.
Præsident Reagan har begrundet angrebene med at beskylde Libyen for direkte ansvar for terrorisme rettet mod Amerika, såsom bombningen af ​​La Belle -diskoteket i Vestberlin for 10 dage siden.
Præsident Reagan lavede en tv -adresse til det amerikanske folk to timer efter angrebet.
Heri sagde han: "Når vores borgere bliver angrebet eller misbrugt overalt i verden på direkte ordrer fra fjendtlige regimer, vil vi reagere, så længe jeg er i dette embede."
Han hævdede, at Amerika udøvede sin ret til selvforsvar som defineret i artikel 51 i FN -chartret.
Præsidentens talsmand, Larry Speakes, sagde: "Amerikanske styrker har udført en række omhyggeligt planlagte luftangreb mod terrormål i Libyen."
Han tilføjede: "Der er gjort alt for at undgå at ramme civile mål."
Angrebene begyndte kort tid efter, at en stigning i kodet radiotrafik mellem amerikanske skibe og fly ud for den libyske kyst var blevet bemærket.
Kampflyene ser ud til at have været både luftfartøjsbaserede fly, der opererede i Middelhavet og britiske baserede bombefly, der ville have tanket op i luften.
Amerikanerne ramte havnens flådeakademi, hovedstadens militære lufthavn og hærsbarakker.
Tripolis ambassadeområde og boligområder har også lidt omfattende skader.
Det centrale hospital i Tripoli og to andre medicinske centre siger, at de har behandlet hundredvis af sårede mennesker, heriblandt en række grækere, italienere og jugoslavere.
Flok af vrede overlevende er gået på gaden og råbt: ”Ned, ned USA. Død for alle amerikanere. ”
Der er også frygt for, at Storbritannien kan blive udsat for terrorangreb, fordi nogle af dets engagement i razziaerne.
Den syrisk baserede terrorgruppe, Arab Revolutionary Cells, har på libanesisk radio meddelt, at den vil målrette både mod britiske og amerikanske interesser.

Hilsen BBC News

Præsident Reagan sagde, at han havde ubestridelige beviser for, at Libyen var ansvarlig for bombningen i natklubben i Vestberlin den 5. april 1986, der dræbte to amerikanske soldater og en tyrkisk kvinde.
Den britiske premierminister, Margaret Thatcher, begrundede Storbritanniens engagement i kampagnen ved at støtte Amerikas ret til selvforsvar i henhold til artikel 51 i De Forenede Nationers pagt.
Den ekstremistiske gruppe Arab Revolutionary Cells sagde, at den myrdede to britiske og en amerikansk gidsel i Libanon den 17. april 1986 som gengældelse for det amerikanske angreb.
Femten år efter luftangrebene fastslog en tysk domstol, at den libyske hemmelige tjeneste var ansvarlig for bombningen i Vestberlin.
I september 2004 indvilligede Libyen i at betale $ 35 mio. Til 150 ikke-amerikanske ofre for Berlin-diskobomben i 1986.
Libyen sagde, at det ikke vil betale for amerikanske ofre, før Washington kompenserer det for liv og ejendom, der er tabt i de efterfølgende amerikanske luftangreb på Libyen.


Mindst 30 dræbt i angreb fra militærakademiet i Libyen

Tripoli (Reuters) - Mindst 30 mennesker blev dræbt og 33 andre såret i et angreb på et militærakademi i den libyske hovedstad sent lørdag, oplyser sundhedsministeriet for den Tripoli -baserede regering i en erklæring søndag.

Tripoli, der kontrolleres af den internationalt anerkendte National Accord Government (GNA), står over for en offensiv af militærkommandant Khalifa Haftars Libyske National Army (LNA), der begyndte i april.

Der er sket en stigning i luftangreb og beskydninger omkring Tripoli i de seneste uger med frygt for, at kampene kan eskalere yderligere, efter at Tyrkiets parlament har stemt for at tillade en udsendelse af tropper til støtte for GNA.

Styrker allieret med GNA beskrev lørdagens angreb på militærlejren i Al-Hadhba som "en luftbombning" lanceret af deres østlige rivaler. En LNA -talsmand nægtede involvering.

GNAs sundhedsminister Hamid bin Omar sagde tidligere til Reuters i et telefonopkald, at antallet af døde og sårede stadig stiger. Talsmand for ambulancetjenesten i Tripoli, Osama Ali, sagde, at nogle kropsdele ikke umiddelbart kunne tælles af retsmedicinske eksperter.

Tidligere appellerede ambulancetjenesten til en midlertidig våbenhvile for at give besætningerne mulighed for at hente ligene af fem civile dræbt på As Sidra Road i det sydlige Tripoli og evakuere familier.

Beredskabsteam trak sig tilbage efter at have været beskyttet, mens de forsøgte at få adgang til området lørdag, hed det.

GNAs udenrigsministerium opfordrede til at henvise Haftar og hans medhjælpere til Den Internationale Straffedomstol for anklager om at have begået "forbrydelser mod menneskeheden", og tilføjede, at det vil indkalde til et hastende møde i FN's Sikkerhedsråd for at drøfte de påståede forbrydelser.

Qatar, der støtter GNA, sagde lørdag, at angrebet "kan udgøre en krigsforbrydelse og forbrydelser mod menneskeheden".

Ankara, der i sidste uge vedtog et lovforslag om godkendelse af en troppeansættelse i Libyen for at støtte Tripoli, fordømte også angrebet og sagde, at det internationale samfund er nødt til at tage skridt til at nå en våbenhvile.

"Det er afgørende for det internationale samfund omgående at tage nødvendige skridt til at standse ekstern støtte til pro-Haftar-hæren og dens angreb og etablere en våbenhvile i Libyen," sagde det tyrkiske udenrigsministerium i en erklæring.

FN's støttemission i Libyen (UNSMIL) fordømte angrebet og sagde, at "stigende eskalering. komplicerer situationen i Libyen yderligere og truer chancerne for at vende tilbage til den politiske proces ”.

Som reaktion på angrebet har GNA-allierede styrker målrettet LNA-luftbasen i Al-Wattia i et luftangreb, omkring 159 km sydvest for Tripoli, sagde en talsmand i en erklæring.

To kilder i Haftar -styrker sagde, at fire krigere blev dræbt i et droneangreb tidligt søndag.

En stigning i luftangreb og beskydning i og omkring Tripoli har forårsaget mindst 11 civils dødsfald siden begyndelsen af ​​december og lukket sundhedsfaciliteter og skoler, sagde FN's mission i Libyen fredag.

Raketter og beskydninger lukkede også Tripolis eneste fungerende lufthavn i fredags.

Fredag ​​fornyede FN's generalsekretær Antonio Guterres sin opfordring til øjeblikkelig våbenhvile i Libyen.

Han advarede om, at levering af udenlandsk støtte til stridende parter "kun ville uddybe den igangværende konflikt og yderligere komplicere bestræbelserne på at nå en fredelig og omfattende politisk løsning".

Parlamentet, der flyttede mod øst i 2014, stemte for at give Haftar nødfinansiering lørdag.

Pro-Haftar-kammeret havde også en række symbolske stemmer mod GNA og Tyrkiet, som indgik to pagter om maritime grænser og militært samarbejde i november.

Rapportering af Hani Amara, Ahmed Elumami, Ayman al-Warfalli og Omar Fahmy yderligere rapportering af Ezgi Erkoyun i Istanbul, skrevet af Mahmoud Mourad og Aidan Lewis redigering af Paul Simao og Jason Neely


Af Julius Melero

Brænding af fregatten Philadelphia i havnen i Tripoli af Edward Moran (U.S. Naval Academy Museum)

Om aftenen den 16. februar 1804 var den amerikanske fregat Philadelphia blev brændt i Tripoli Havn. Fregatten var blevet taget til fange den 31. oktober 1803, da skibet gik på grund af et rev et par kilometer uden for Tripoli. Krigen med Tripoli havde raset siden 1801, hele krigens handling udgjorde for det meste et par søskydninger og en mangelfuld blokade af Tripoli. Da Commodore Edward Preble ankom for at tage kommandoen over krigen, havde han håbet at øge tempoet i operationerne mod Tripoli og hurtigt bringe krigen til en vellykket afslutning. Indfangningen af Philadelphia kompliceret dette mål dramatisk. Fangsten betød PhiladelphiaKaptajn og hendes besætning, 307 amerikanere, blev Tripolis fanger. Indfangningen formindskede også amerikansk prestige blandt Barbary -staterne. Preble besluttede, at det var nødvendigt at ødelægge det fangede skib. Missionen ville være ekstremt farlig Preble forventede, at ødelæggelsen af ​​skibet kun ville komme med stort tab af mennesker. Løjtnant Stephen Decatur, Jr. meldte sig frivilligt til at kommandere missionen. Hans succes genoprettede amerikansk prestige og sikrede ham et ry for tapperhed, der fulgte ham resten af ​​hans liv. Afbrændingen af Philadelphia var en heroisk episode under Barbary Wars, der gjorde Decatur til en helt og i høj grad øgede flåden og USA's ry.

I 1801 krævede Tripoli større hyldestbetalinger fra USA. Hvis USA ikke gik med til den øgede hyldest, ville Tripolis hersker erklære krig. USA nægtede, og derfor erklærede Tripoli i maj 1801 krig og begyndte at angribe den amerikanske handelsflåde i Middelhavet. [1] Commodore Richard Dale, chefen for amerikanske flådestyrker i Middelhavet, begyndte derefter aktioner mod Tripoli. Da han ankom til Gibraltar den 1. juli 1801 fandt Dale to Tripolitan -skibe i karantæne. Da han var overbevist om, at skibene var rettet mod amerikansk skibsfart, sendte Dale fregatten Philadelphia under kommando af kaptajn Samuel Barron for at forhindre skibene i at flygte. [2] Dale fortsatte derefter til Tripoli for at blokere og nåede byen den 24. juli 1801. Dale løftede dog snart blokaden og vendte tilbage til Gibraltar, hvor hans eskadrille tilbragte resten af ​​året med at blokere de to tripolitanske skibe i Gibraltar og konvojere amerikansk skibsfart. [3 ] De blev lettet af en eskadre under kommando af Commodore Robert Morris i begyndelsen af ​​1802 [4].

Morris blev også hurtigt fast i tvister med Tunis. Tripolitanskibet, Paulina, blev fanget af skonnerten Virksomhed i januar 1802. Nogle af de Paulina'S last tilhørte et tunesisk emne, og Bey of Tunis krævede øjeblikkelig tilbagebetaling, ellers ville USA stå over for en anden krig. I løbet af forhandlingerne blev Morris tilbageholdt, indtil han indvilligede i at tilbagebetale et lån, Bey krævede, at den amerikanske konsul til Tunis, William Eaton, skyldte. [5]

På grund af forsinkelser forårsaget af affæren i Tunis samt problemer med Alger, ankom Morris 'eskadrille først til Tripoli den 20. maj 1802. Efter at have blokeret Tripoli i cirka en måned, hvor et angreb blev foretaget på Tripolis havn, som endte i ødelæggelsen af ​​talrige tripolitanske skibe [6], Morris rejste blokaden den 26. juni 1802. Morris vendte derefter tilbage til Gibraltar og tilbragte resten af ​​året i inaktivitet. Morris ’overordnede var yderst utilfredse med hans mangel på initiativ, så meget at han blev suspenderet og kommandoen overdraget til kaptajn John Rodgers. Morris blev beordret til at sejle hjem, hvor han stod over for en domstol, der fandt hans adfærd under krigen utilstrækkelig, og derefter blev han afskediget fra flåden. [7] De to første krigsår gik i relativ inaktivitet, hvor Tripoli blev blokeret i i alt omkring tre måneder. Ved ankomsten af ​​Commodore Edward Preble ændrede krigens gennemførelse sig imidlertid dramatisk.

Preble ankom til Middelhavet den 12. september 1803. Så snart han ankom, sendte Preble fregatten Philadelphia og skonnerten Vixen at blokere Tripoli. Men før han kunne sejle til Tripoli med hele sin eskadre, følte Preble, at han først var nødt til at løse problemer med staten Marokko. [8] Kejser af Marokko havde frigivet sine corsairs for at fange amerikanske fartøjer på grund af erobringen af ​​det tripolitanske skib Meshuda, der fløj marokkanske farver. [9] Vrede den marokkanske kejser endnu mere, på sin rejse til Gibraltar fangede kaptajn William Bainbridge den marokkanske krydser Mirboka, som havde fanget det amerikanske fartøj Celia.

Preble ankom til Tanger med den kombinerede styrke af to amerikanske eskadriller, for kaptajn John Rodgers, fungerende kommandør for Morris eskadron siden Morris 'lettelse, gik med til at ledsage Preble, inden han vendte hjem. Dette magtopvisning imponerede den marokkanske kejser, der derefter afviste alle fjendtlige handlinger mod amerikanske fartøjer. For at demonstrere sin gode vilje gav kejseren Preble en gave med mange dyr og lovede at frigive besætningen på den amerikanske brig Hannah. Preble accepterede til gengæld at frigive Meshuda og Mirboka.[10]

Når fjendtlighederne med Marokko var løst, vendte Preble tilbage til Gibraltar og sejlede til Cadiz for at erstatte et anker og et kabel tabt ved Tanger, som ikke var tilgængelige i Gibraltar. Mens han var i Cadiz, udsendte Preble en proklamation af en blokade om, at "alle neutrale fartøjer, der forsøger at komme ind i Tripolis havn eller bliver mødt på kysten nær den havn ..., vil blive stoppet af eskadrillen under min kommando og sendt til havn til bedømmelse. ”[11] Dette cirkulære blev sendt til forskellige amerikanske ministre i hele Europa og Middelhavet. Senere modtog Preble ordrer fra marinesekretæren, Robert Smith, om at ændre sin blokade, hvilket krævede, at "i ethvert tilfælde af et forsøg på at komme ind uden forudgående kendskab til blokadeens eksistens, vil du give kommandanten for en sådan fartøjs meddelelse om en sådan blokade, og advar ham om at komme ind. ” [12]

Mens Preble løste problemerne med Marokko, havde kaptajn William Bainbridge kommandoen over fregatten Philadelphia sammen med skonnerten Vixen sejlede til Tripoli for at etablere en blokade. Skibene ankom til Tripoli den 7. oktober 1803. Handlingen ud for kysten var meget begrænset. Kaptajn Bainbridge skrev, at han var "uden held at se vores fjender undtagen under tilflugt af velbefæstede værker." [13] Bainbridge lærte imidlertid om to tripolitanske krydsere ud for Cape Bon -kysten og blev sendt Vixen den 20. oktober for at finde dem. Det Philadelphia blev på stationen ud for Tripoli for at fortsætte blokaden [14]. Den 31. oktober blev den Philadelphia så et Tripolitan -fartøj omfavne kystlinjen. Fregatten begyndte at jagte skibet omkring klokken 0900 og kom inden for skudafstand af hende klokken 1100. Klokken 1130 besluttede Bainbridge at stoppe jagten, da skibet på det tidspunkt var for tæt på kysten. Men da Bainbridge vendte Philadelphia væk fra land, blev han straks fast på et rev, som ikke var på nogen af ​​amerikanernes kort. For at forsøge at befri skibet fra revet havde Bainbridge alt andet end et anker skåret væk og kastede de fleste skibskanoner over bord, "kun reserveret så mange, som ville være nødvendige for at forsvare sig mod fjendens kanonbåde ..." [15] Siden fregatten sad kun omkring tre og en halv kilometer uden for Tripoli, mange Tripolitan -kanonbåde ankom snart og begyndte at skyde på skibet. "Kanonbådene, der havde taget en station i vores styrbordskvarter, startede en affyring, der hovedsageligt var rettet mod vores master og rigning [16]." Det Philadelphia vendte tilbage med de få kanoner, besætningen havde reddet, men deres brand havde ingen effekt. "Vi vendte tilbage (ild) med to kanoner fra vores hoveddæk og tre af vores kvartdækskanoner, som fra den helt store hæl skibet havde ingen effekt." [17] For at forsøge at frigøre skibet beordrede Bainbridge agter og foremast skal skæres væk, men prøv som han kunne Philadelphia ikke kunne frigøres fra revet.

Bainbridge holdt ud indtil omkring 1630 og forsøgte at befri båden på nogen måde, mens han blev affyret af de fjendtlige krydsere, der cirkulerede om skibet. På det tidspunkt ringede han til et råd af sine officerer for at beslutte, hvad han skulle gøre. Rådet fandt det umuligt at befri skibet, og at al yderligere modstand var forgæves og kun ville medføre unødig skade for besætningen med ringe fordel for deres mission. Derfor var "det enstemmigt enigt om, at det eneste, vi kunne gøre, var at overgive os til fjenden ..." [18] Efter at have bestilt magasinet oversvømmet, skød skibet og de resterende kanoner enten kastes over bord eller gøres ubrugelige, Bainbridge overgav Philadelphia. Besætningen blev taget til fange, hvor både officer og sømand blev frataget de fleste af deres ejendele. Fangerne blev derefter taget til møde med herskeren i Tripoli, som var meget glad for hans lykke ved at fange en amerikansk fregat. Betjentene blev derefter anbragt i husarrest i det forladte amerikanske konsulat, mens sømændene blev slavearbejdere [19].

Indfangningen af Philadelphia fuldstændig ændret krigen med Tripoli. Pludselig havde tripolitanerne 307 amerikanske fanger til løsepenge, og en amerikansk fregat med 40 kanoner blev tilføjet til deres arsenal. Selvom skibet var blevet ødelagt, “kom tyrkerne… om bord i sæsonen for at stoppe hullerne og forhindre hendes fyldning.” [20] Desuden blev de fleste kanoner kastet over bord reddet. Indfangningen af Philadelphia betød "fjenden fik et bedre fartøj, end de nogensinde havde ejet før." [21] Den tripolitanske hersker, Yusuf Kramanli, øgede sine krav om fred fra $ 500.000 og en årlig hyldestbetaling på $ 20.000 til $ 3.000.000 for fred og løsesum for besætningen af Philadelphia[22]. Preble lærte om indfangningen af Philadelphia fra den britiske fregat Amazon den 24. november 1803. [23] Preble skrev for at informere marinesekretæren om fangsten, og afslørede sin utilfredshed. “Denne affære gør mig utilfreds med beskrivelse og forstyrrer i høj grad mine operationsplaner i øjeblikket.” [24] Preble skrev vredt om, hvad han opfattede som mangel på et entusiastisk forsvar af skibet. “(Jeg) ville til Gud, at betjentene og besætningen på Philadelphia havde en og alle besluttet på at foretrække døden frem for slaveri er det muligt, at en sådan beslutsomhed kunne have reddet dem fra enten. ”[25] Hans håb om snart at afslutte krigen blev forvirret. “Hvis det ikke havde været for Capture of the Philadelphia, Jeg er ikke i tvivl, men vi skulle have haft fred med Tripoli i foråret. ”[26] Preble frygtede også, at slag mod prestige USA ville lide blandt de andre Barbary -stater. “Jeg frygter, at vores nationale karakter vil pådrage sig en skade hos barbarerne.” [27] Faktisk blev staten Tunis forstærket i sine forbindelser med USA og begyndte at kræve restitution for konfiskation af tunesisk ejendom i efteråret 1803. Da en tunesisk minister fortalte den amerikanske konsulære agent til Tunis, George Davis, "er amerikanerne nu som jorden." [28]

Preble besluttede, at det var nødvendigt at ødelægge fregatten, selvom han mente, "det vil uden tvivl koste os mange liv." [29] Selvom han vidste, at tripolitanerne ikke havde nogen måde at bemande den fangede fregat, vidste Preble, at de sandsynligvis ville forsøge at sælge det til en anden af ​​Barbary -staterne, muligvis Tunis eller Algier. [30] Preble besluttede at genkende Tripolis havn i sit flagskib, Forfatning, sammen med skonnerten Virksomhed. Mens man sejlede ud for Tripoli, blev Virksomhed så et fartøj, der flyver tyrkiske farver, der forlader Tripoli. Det Virksomhed stoppede skibet og fandt det at være et tripolitansk skib, der bar hyldest til Konstantinopel. En italiensk læge om bord på Forfatning identificerede skibet som Mastico som havde deltaget i indfangningen af Philadelphia. Kaptajnen på Mastico, en tripolitaner ved navn Murad Reis, "var blandt de første, der gik ombord på skibet og var ekstremt aktiv i at tage betjentene ud og ... plyndre dem af deres kappe [sic]." [31] Kaptajnen og besætningen blev taget til fange og Mastico blev presset i drift og omdøbt til Uforfærdet.

Resten af ​​1803 blev brugt på cruising i hele Middelhavet. Preble blev i Syracuse, hans nye base, og forsøgte at forhandle om fred og frihed for de amerikanske fanger. I januar 1804 blev det aftalt, at fredsprisen ville være en lille konsulær gave, en løsesum på $ 120.000 og en udveksling af Philadelphia for en skonnert [32]. Men før denne fred kunne sættes i kraft, besluttede Preble at forsøge at ødelægge Philadelphia. Preble beordrede en ekspedition til at blive klargjort til skibene Sirene og Uforfærdet skulle snige sig ind i Tripolis havn og forsøge at ødelægge Philadelphia. Løjtnant Stephen Decatur, Jr. meldte sig frivilligt til at kommandere missionen. Planen var rimelig enkel. Det Uforfærdet ville snige sig ind i havnen, der foregav at være en købmand, den Sirene ville gå ind med hende for at yde støtte. Det Uforfærdet ville derefter fortøje lige ved siden af ​​de fangede Philadelphia besætningen ville gå ombord på hende og overtage kontrollen og derefter brænde skibet. Missionen ville imidlertid være yderst farlig Philadelphia lå midt i Tripoli Havn, beskyttet af 115 kanoner spredt over talrige batterier, sit eget 40-kanons kompliment, med størstedelen af ​​den tyrkiske flåde forankret i havnen. Sammen den Uforfærdet og Sirene monteret kun 20 kanoner. Preble beordrede Decatur til at rejse en gruppe på 70 frivillige for at bemande Uforfærdet til missionen. Da Decatur bad om frivillige fra hans besætning, "gik hver mand og dreng frem". [33]

Det Uforfærdet modtog hendes ordrer den 31. januar 1804 og forlod Syracusa 2. februar [34] Skibet var ekstremt lille og ubehageligt. Designet til at bære et supplement på kun omkring 30 mænd, blev 70 mænd tvunget til at proppe ind i hende sammen med alt det materiale, der var nødvendigt for at ødelægge Philadelphia. Fordi skibet også var forklædt som en maltesisk købmand, kunne kun omkring seks eller syv af besætningen være på dæk når som helst. Rejsen varede omkring en uge, hvor skibene ankom til Tripoli den 7. februar [35] Da han var uden for Tripoli, sendte Decatur midshipman Charles Morris sammen med den sicilianske pilot Salvatore Catalano, der havde ledsaget amerikanerne for at fungere som tolk og guide, for at inspicere havnens forhold. De to rapporterede, at havnen ikke kunne komme ind på grund af høj surf. [36] Storme forhindrede skibene i at forsøge at komme ind i havnen indtil den 16. Om aftenen den 16., omkring 1900, blev Uforfærdet kom ind i havnen. Men inden Sirene kunne komme ind, stoppede vinden med at blæse. Det Uforfærdet skulle forsøge at udføre missionen selv uden støtte fra Sirene.

For at snige sig ind i havnen, den Uforfærdet forklædte sig som en maltesisk købmand i britiske farver. Besætningen var klædt i maltesiske sømænds tøj. Så dygtigt var hun forklædt, at det britiske konsulat rejste Union Jack for at byde dem velkommen. [37]

USS Philadelphia brænder i Tripoli havn

Det Uforfærdet sejlede ind i havnen og trak op til den fangede fregat. Den tyrkiske kaptajn kaldte til skibet og beordrede hende til at holde sig væk. Den sicilianske pilot, Salvatore Catalano, ringede tilbage og bad om tilladelse til at binde båden til fregatten og sagde, at skibet havde mistet sit anker i en storm. Kaptajnen spurgte, hvad skibet ved havnens munding, the Sirene, var. Catalano svarede, at det var Overførsel, et skib tripolitanerne havde købt på Malta, men som faktisk var blevet fanget af amerikanerne, før det kunne ankomme til Tripoli. [38] De to skibe udvekslede linjer og Uforfærdet moored next to the frigate. Så snart Uforfærdet pulled up to the ship, Decatur gave the order to board and was the first on the Philadelphia. Behind him, sixty men boarded the ship “like a cluster of bees.”[39] The Americans quickly overpowered the Tripolitans, killing 20, with the rest of the Tripolitan guards escaping either by boat or by jumping overboard. Once the frigate was in their power, the crew of the Uforfærdet began the task of destroying the ship. The crew spread throughout the ship placing combustibles and waiting for Decatur to give the order to set fire to the ship. As the crew set about its work, the Tripolitans in the harbor and on shore raised the alarm. “The noise occasion by boarding… gave a general alarm on shore… many boats filled with men lay round, but from whom we received no annoyance.”[40] The guns from the shore batteries began to fire, “but with no other effect than one shot passing through our top gall sail.”[41] Decatur ordered the ship to be set fire, going to each station and giving the command. Decatur then supervised the withdrawal of the crew back onto the Uforfærdet, counting each man and ensuring everyone had gotten of the burning ship before he left it.[42] Twenty minutes had elapsed. Decatur quickly ordered his crew to push off of the burning frigate, as the Uforfærdet was in danger of catching fire. The crew pushed off with spars and the Uforfærdet’s boats towed her away from the burning Philadelphia. As the Intrepid pulled away, the Philadelphia’s cannons began to go off. “She had all of her guns mounted and loaded which as they became hot went off as she lay with her broadside to the town.”[43] The Uforfærdet pulled out of the harbor, rejoined the Sirene, and the two ships made for Syracuse, returning on February 18 to general rejoicing by the rest of the squadron.

The Tripolitan reaction to the raid was a mixture of surprise and fury. Tripoli’s ruler was enraged and ordered more guards and tighter restrictions placed on the American prisoners. He had good reason to be angry Tripoli had actually already sold the frigate to Tunis.[44] Kramanli was so incensed at the burning that he refused to even consider a proposed prisoner exchange.[45] One Tripolitan man, recalling the event years later, was impressed with the Americans. “These Americans have wise heads, when they lose their ship, they lose it to everybody.”[46]

To the Americans, the burning of the Philadelphia was viewed as an enormous victory. “The success of this enterprise added much to the reputation of the Navy, both at home and abroad.”[47] Preble praised Decatur for his intrepidity and courage, immediately writing the Secretary of the Navy to ask for Decatur’s immediate promotion to captain, writing “I wish as a stimulus (to others), it could be done in this instance it would eventually be of real service to our Navy.”[48] The Secretary took Preble’s advice and in a letter dated May 22, 1804 formally granted Decatur the rank of Captain, writing, “The President has desired me to convey to you his thanks for your gallant conduct on this occasion… As a testimonial of the President’s high opinion of your gallant conduct in this instance, he sends to you the enclosed commission.”[49] For his part in the raid, Decatur became the youngest captain ever appointed in the U.S. Navy.[50] Decatur’s reputation was also made among his European counterparts. Nelson, who was blockading Toulon at the time, heard about the event and called it the most bold and daring act of the age.[51] Decatur would be further honored by Congress with a sword and the other officers and sailors who took part in the raid received two month’s pay.[52] The raid cemented Decatur’s reputation for bravery and as a daring commander.

Stephen Decatur: American Naval Hero

Preble now prepared for a major attack on Tripoli. Preble began to assemble a large fleet at Syracuse. Preble supplemented his own forces with the captured Overførsel, which was renamed the Scourge. Preble also asked the King of Naples, who was also at war with Tripoli, for a number of gun and mortar boats with which to bombard Tripoli.[53] These the King provided along with the crews to man them. Preble made his assault in the summer of 1804, capturing numerous Tripolitan prizes and causing great destruction in Tripoli. Når Philadelphia was captured, Preble wrote back to the United States for reinforcements. These were sent, but unfortunately for Preble, there were not enough junior captains to command the reinforcements. The Secretary of the Navy wrote Preble informing him of this unfortunate circumstance and that he was to be relieved of command.[54] Preble was greatly disappointed at the thought of being relieved at “the moment of victory.”[55] Preble, though, duly relinquished his squadron to Commodore Samuel Barron on December 24, 1804 and sailed for home, leaving the Tripolitans considerably weaker than when he arrived.

The burning of the Philadelphia was the result of a daring raid during the war against Tripoli. Stephen Decatur secured for himself a reputation for valor that lasted for the rest of his life. The burning of the Philadelphia shocked the Tripolitans, enraging their ruler, and restored American prestige in the eyes of the other Barbary States. Even more amazing, the raid cost no American lives. While Bainbridge and the crew of the Philadelphia remained prisoners until the end of the war, the destruction of the frigate ensured that the Tripolitans could not use it nor sell it to any of the other Barbary States. After the frigate’s destruction, Preble increased the tempo of operations against Tripoli, causing great destruction for Tripoli and her fleet, and increasing even further the prestige of the U.S. Navy in the eyes of Barbary. Preble and Decatur would both return home to a hero’s welcome. Costing no lives or ships lost, cementing the heroic reputation of Decatur, and giving the initiative back to the Americans, the burning of the Philadelphia was a heroic and important episode in the war against Tripoli.

[1]Ray W. Irwin,Diplomatic Relations of the United States with the Barbary Powers 1776-1816 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1970), p.107

[2]Irwin, Diplomatic Relations, p.106

[3]Irwin, Diplomatic Relations, p. 109

[4]Irwin, Diplomatic Relations, p. 112

[5]Gardener W. Allen, Our Navy and the Barbary Corsairs (Hamden: Archon Books, 1965), p. 121-122

[7]Irwin, Diplomatic Relations, p. 129

[11]Navy Department, Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1941), p. 215

[12]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 389

[13]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 159

[14]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 192

[15]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 193

[16]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 193

[17]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 193

[18]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 194

[20]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 192

[22]Irwin, Diplomatic Relations, p. 135

[23]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 235

[24]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 256

[25]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 256

[26]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 257

[27]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 256

[28]Irwin, Diplomatic Relations, p. 140

[29]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 258

[30]Navy Department, Naval Ops., p. 277

[31]Navy Department, Naval Ops, p. 294

[33]Robert J. Allison, Stephen Decatur: American Naval Hero 1779-1820 (Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005) p. 46


Describing the NATO airstrikes on the residence of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the New York Times reported, “The NATO campaign, some officials said, arose in part from an analysis of Colonel Gaddafi’s reaction to the bombing of Tripoli that was ordered by President Ronald Reagan a quarter-century ago.”

It is worth reviewing that act of American aggression, carried out by a conservative Republican president, because it bears uncanny similarities, in both military methods and media lies, to the contemporary actions of a Democratic president hailed by the liberals.

I hans bog El Dorado Canyon: Reagan’s Undeclared War with Qaddafi (Naval Institute Press, 2003), Joseph L. Stanik gives a detailed picture of the 1986 attacks on Tripoli and Benghazi that were the culmination of a protracted campaign of destabilization waged against the Libyan regime.

Reagan decided on the air strikes in response to the Libyan role in the April 5, 1986 bombing of a West Berlin disco, in which two American off-duty soldiers were killed. Libyan agents organized the attack, which was carried out by two Palestinian men and the German wife of one of the Palestinians, who actually planted the bomb.

US military planners drew up a list of targets in the two main Libyan cities, including military as well as “terrorist training” sites, and adding key government installations as well, on the theory—embraced 25 years later by the Obama administration and NATO—that all government facilities play a role in communications to and within the military.

Reagan’s operatives, like Obama’s, included the Bab al-Aziziyah compound as a potential target for bombing, knowing that Gaddafi and many of his family members resided there.

According to Stanik’s book, Reagan personally selected Bab al-Aziziyah to be the main focus of the attack. He quotes Admiral William Crowe, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the effect that “there was strong sentiment for psychological purposes that we should do something to his personal compound and get his communications center and headquarters.”

After three decades of US-led wars, the outbreak of a third world war, which would be fought with nuclear weapons, is an imminent and concrete danger.

Lt. Col. Oliver North, a member of the National Security Council at the time, recalled the deliberations, which included the same type of cynical hairsplitting about assassinating Gaddafi offered this week by officials of NATO and the Obama administration.

“Killing him was never part of our plan. On the other hand, we certainly made no attempt to protect him from our bombs. By law, we couldn’t specifically target him. But if Gaddafi happened to be in the vicinity of the Aziziyah Barracks in downtown Tripoli when the bombs started to fall, nobody would have shed any tears.” (Stanik, p. 152)

White House Press Secretary Larry Speakes had even prepared a statement in the event that Gaddafi was killed in the attack, calling his death “a fortunate by-product of our act of self-defense” (ibid).

Unfortunately for the Air Force pilots assigned the mission to bomb Gaddafi’s residence, the desire to kill Gaddafi outweighed the recommendations of the military planners, who allotted six warplanes to each of the three targets in Tripoli.

Reagan personally ordered the Pentagon to shift three planes from the Tripoli military airfield to the Bab al-Aziziyah compound, increasing the number of planes to nine, including two specifically targeting Gaddafi’s residence.

Stanik observes—with the professional military man’s distaste for micromanagement by politicians—“Assigning two planes to attack Gaddafi’s headquarters-residence building certainly increased the chances of killing or wounding Gaddafi, but that was not the mission’s objective.”

Moreover, it endangered the pilots and was described as a “gross tactical error” by the Air Force mission planners.

Since the planes were to attack in succession, separated by 60- to 90-second intervals, the overloading of planes on Bab al-Aziziyah meant that the last of the nine would not hit the target until eight to ten minutes had elapsed, giving Libyan anti-aircraft forces ample time to recover from the initial surprise and open fire.

The result was that one of the later-arriving jets was shot down, with the loss of both airmen, who ejected into the Mediterranean Sea and were drowned.

While the American media depicted the raid as a brilliant success, only two of the nine planes that attacked Bab al-Aziziyah actually struck the compound, with the rest forced to abort because of mechanical difficulties or lack of visibility, while one dropped its load elsewhere over Tripoli, killing civilians and hitting the French and several other Western embassies. All told, 37 Libyans were killed and 93 wounded, the majority of them civilians.

Overall, of the 18 planes dispatched against Tripoli, six aborted, one was shot down, seven missed their targets and, Stanik concludes, “only four put their bombs directly on or very near their aim points.”


Operation Odyssey Dawn

The Obama administration spent about $1 billion on Libya’s “revolution” and helped NATO with everything from munitions to surveillance aircraft, carrying out roughly 20 percent of the over 26,000 bombing sorties in the seven-month Operation Odyssey Dawn.

U.S.-NATO jet bombers dropped cluster munitions, phosphorus and fuel-air explosives which are outlawed under international law.

In the opening hours of the campaign, the USS Florida launched 100 cruise missiles against Libyan air defenses, creating an entry corridor for the airstrikes that followed.

Predator drones flew overhead for hundreds of hours, chronicling the “patter of life below” to prepare target selection for B-2 stealth bombers and Hellfire and Tomahawk missiles with depleted uranium warheads.

Civilians only loosely linked to Qaddafi’s regime were targeted in the bombing. Buildings and homes were hit along with desalinization plants and the man-made river and water pipe infrastructure supplying over four million people. (21)

The town of Sirte, a Qaddafi stronghold envisioned as the center of a united Africa, was reduced to a “ghost town filled with the stench of death,” as one eyewitness described it. (22)

Qaddafi’s home was bombed in another illegal assassination attempt that killed his son and three of his grandsons.

A major ethnic cleansing operation was also carried out by rebel forces in Misrata targeting pro-Qaddafi Blacks who had racial slurs painted on the walls of their abandoned homes.

They bombed and shot at us and we had to run away. I ran away with my kids. I’ve lost a boy and I don’t know whether he is alive or dead. And now we are here [refugee camp where militias would kidnap young men], with no future. We are scared, we need a solution to our problem, and we want to go home.

The final assault on Tripoli was led by Qatari Special Forces paid by the CIA and Pakistani ISI mercenaries.

When Qaddafi was found with the assistance of U.S. predator drones hiding in a sewer pipe, rebels tortured and sodomized him with a sharpened two-foot pole and then shot him in the head and displayed his body in a meat locker.

In an interview with ABC News, Hillary Clinton subsequently proclaimed: “We came, we saw, he died,” a twisted play on the words of Julius Caesar following his victory over the King of Bosporus at the Battle of Zela around 47 B.C.

CIA Director John Brennan told speechwriter Ben Rhodes that Qaddafi’s death marked a “fitting end for one of the biggest rats of the 20 th century.” No Western leader would ever be characterized in this way.


El Dorado Canyon

The United States on April 14, 1986, launched Operation El Dorado Canyon, a controversial but highly successful mission that hit Col. Muammar Qaddafi squarely between the eyes. Working with carrier aircraft of the US Sixth Fleet, Air Force F-111s of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing flew what turned out to be the longest fighter combat mission in history. The crushing strikes caused a remarkable reduction in Libyan­sponsored terrorist activity.

In the mid-1980s, the F-111s of the 48th TFW, stationed at RAF Lakenheath in Britain, formed a key element of NATO power. If war came, the Aardvark’s long range and night, low-level bombing capability would have been vital in defeating a Soviet attack. To the south, in the Mediterranean, the Sixth Fleet engaged Soviet warships in a constant game of mutual surveillance and stayed in more or less permanent readiness for hostilities.

Fate would dictate that the 48th TFW and Sixth Fleet carriers would be teamed in a totally unexpected quarter against a very different kind of enemy. They would strike not in or around Europe but on the North African littoral. They would go into action not against Soviet conventional forces but against an Arab state bent on sponsoring deadly terrorist acts.

Western nations had long been alarmed by state-sponsored terrorism. The number of attacks had risen from about 300 in 1970 to more than 3,000 in 1985. In that 15-year period, a new intensity had come to characterize the attacks, which ranged from simple assaults to attacks with heavy casualties such as the Oct. 23, 1983, truck bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut.

Qaddafi, who seized power in a 1969 coup, had long been an American antagonist. Each year, Libya trained 8,000 terrorists, providing false passports, transport on Libyan airliners, and access to safe houses across Europe. Libyan support for terrorist operations exceeded all nations except Iran. It disbursed $100 million to Palestinian terrorists eager to strike Israel.

“Heroic” Actions

Qaddafi joined forces with one of the most notorious terrorists of the time, Abu Nidal. In November 1985, Abu Nidal’s operatives hijacked an EgyptAir transport 60 passengers were killed, many in the rescue attempt staged by an Egyptian commando team. On Dec. 27, 1985, Abu Nidal terrorists launched simultaneous attacks on airports at Rome and Vienna 20 passengers and four terrorists were killed in these events. Qaddafi publicly praised the terrorists, called them martyrs, and applauded what he described as “heroic” actions.

President Ronald Reagan at about this time gave his approval to National Security Decision Directive 207, setting forth a new US policy against terrorism. He had decided that the US needed to mount a military response to Qaddafi and his brethren, but first he wanted to obtain cooperation from the Western Allies and allow time for the removal of US citizens working in Libya.

Meantime, the Sixth Fleet, based in the Mediterranean Sea, began a series of maneuvers designed to keep pressure on Libya. Two and sometimes three aircraft carriers (Saratoga, America, and Coral Sea) conducted “freedom of navigation” operations that would take US warships up to and then southward across a line at 32 degrees 30 minutes north latitude. This was Qaddafi’s self-proclaimed “Line of Death.”

The Line of Death defined the northernmost edge of the Gulf of Sidra and demarcated it-in Qaddafi’s mind, at least-from the rest of the Mediterranean. The Libyan leader had warned foreign vessels that the Gulf belonged to Libya and was not international waters. The message was that they entered at their own risk and were subject to attack by Libyan forces. Thus Qaddafi, by drawing the Line, unilaterally sought to exclude US ships and aircraft from a vast, 3,200-square-mile area of the Med which always had been considered international.

The skirmishing soon began. On March 24, 1986, Libyan air defense operators fired SA-5 missiles at two F-14s. The Tomcats had intercepted an intruding MiG-25 that came a bit too close to a battle group. The next day, a Navy A-7E aircraft struck the SAM site with AGM-88A HARM missiles. At least two of the five threatening Libyan naval attack vessels were also sunk.

Tension further increased on April 2, 1986, when a terrorist’s bomb exploded on TWA Flight 840 flying above Greece. Four Americans were killed. Three days later, a bomb exploded in Berlin’s La Belle Discotheque, a well-known after-hours hangout for US military personnel. Killed in the blast were two American servicemen, and 79 other Americans were injured. Three terrorist groups claimed responsibility for the bomb, but the United States and West Germany independently announced “incontrovertible” evidence that Libyans were responsible for the bombing.

President Reagan decided that it was time for the US to act.

In the months leading up to the Berlin bombing, planners at USAF’s 48th TFW had developed more than 30 plans for delivering a punitive blow against Libya. Most were variations on a theme-six or so Air Force F-111 fighter-bombers would fly through French airspace and strike selected military targets in Libya. Planners assumed that the attack would have the benefit of surprise the small number of F-111s made it probable that the bombers would be in and out before the Libyan defenses were alerted.

Later, when detailed speculation in the Western media lessened the probability of surprise, attack plans were changed to include support packages that would carry out suppression of enemy air defenses. These packages were to comprise Air Force EF-111 electronic warfare aircraft as well as Navy A-7 and EA-6B aircraft. This was the start of an Air Force-Navy liaison that would prove essential in the actual mission.

However, all the 48th’s plans had been rendered obsolete by April 1986. Continuous media coverage, apparently fueled by leaks from very senior and knowledgeable sources in the White House, had rendered surprise almost impossible. Moreover, the US was having serious trouble with its Allies. Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher approved US use of British bases to launch the attack. However, Washington’s other Allies lost their nerve. The fear of reprisals and loss of business caused France, Germany, Italy, and Spain to refuse to cooperate in a strike.

The faintheartedness of these countries forced the US to prepare a radically different attack plan. USAF F-111s would now navigate around France and Spain, thread the needle through the airspace over the narrow Strait of Gibraltar, and then plunge on eastward over the Mediterranean until in a position to attack.

It would prove to be a grueling round-trip flight of 6,400 miles that spanned 13 hours, requiring eight to 12 in-flight refuelings for each aircraft. Inasmuch as a standard NATO F-111 sortie was about two hours, the El Dorado Canyon mission placed a tremendous strain on crews and complex avionic systems at the heart of the aircraft.

US authorities crafted a joint operation of the Air Force and Navy against five major Libyan targets. Of these, two were in Benghazi: a terrorist training camp and the military airfield. The other three were in Tripoli: a terrorist naval training base the former Wheelus AFB and the Azziziyah Barracks compound, which housed the command center for Libyan intelligence and contained one of five residences that Qaddafi used.

Eighteen F-111s were assigned to strike the three Tripoli targets, while Navy aircraft were to hit the two Benghazi sites. Navy aircraft also were to provide air defense suppression for both phases of the operation. US authorities gave overall command to Vice Adm. Frank B. Kelso II, commander of the Sixth Fleet.

Enter the Air Force

The composition of the El Dorado Canyon force has stirred controversy. In his 1988 book, Command of the Seas, former Navy Secretary John F. Lehman Jr. said the entire raid could have been executed by aircraft from America and Coral Sea. This claim cropped up again in 1997 in a letter to Foreign Affairs, Marine Maj. Gen. John H. Admire, an operations planner in US European Command at the time, said, “Sufficient naval forces were available to execute the attacks.” Both attributed USAF’s participation to a bureaucratic need to placate the Air Force.

The fact of the matter, however, is the Air Force had long been preparing for such a raid. When Washington decreed that there would be only one attack, it became absolutely necessary to mount a joint operation because only the inclusion of heavy USAF attack aircraft could provide the firepower needed to ensure that the operation would be more than a pinprick attack.

The Navy had only America and Coral Sea on station. According to Air Force officials involved in the plans, these two carriers did not have sufficient aircraft for effective attacks against all five targets in both Tripoli and Benghazi. At least one more carrier, and perhaps two, would have been required, said these officers.

The act of calling in a third or even a fourth carrier to handle both targets would have caused a delay and given away any remaining element of surprise. This fact was pointed out to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. Crowe himself recognized that F-111s were needed if both Tripoli and Benghazi were to be struck at more or less the same time. They would also add an element of surprise and a new axis of attack.

For these reasons, the JCS Chairman recommended to Reagan and the National Security Council that the United States use both Air Force and Navy aircraft in the raids.

The F-111Fs of the 48th were special birds, equipped with two Pratt & Whitney TF-30 P-100 turbofan engines of 25,100 pounds of thrust each and a highly classified AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack bombing system. Pave Tack consisted of an infrared camera and laser designator. It enabled the F-111 crew to see the target in the dark or through light fog or dust obscurations (not heavy dust and smoke). When the target was seen, it was designated by the energy of a laser beam. The 2,000-pound GBU-10 Paveway II laser-guided bomb tracked the laser to the illuminated target. Pave Tack imparted to the F-111s a limited standoff capability, achieved by lobbing the bombs at the target. As events unfolded, the Pave Tack equipment would be crucial to the mission’s success.

On April 14, at 17:36 Greenwich Mean Time, 24 Aardvarks departed Lakenheath with the intent that six would return after the first refueling about 90 minutes out. Also launched were five EF-111 electronic warfare aircraft. This marked the start of the first US bomber attack from the UK since World War II. The tanker force was launched at roughly the same time as the F-111s, four of which joined up on their respective “mother tankers” in radio silence, flying such a tight formation that radar controllers would see only the tanker signatures on their screens. At the first refueling, six F-111Fs and one EF-111A broke off and returned to base. Beyond Lands End, UK, the aircraft would be beyond the control of any international authority, operating at 26,000 feet and speeds up to 450 knots.

To save time and ease navigation, tankers were to accompany the fighters to and from the target area. KC-10 tankers, called in from Barksdale AFB, La., March AFB, Calif., and Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., were refueled in turn by KC-135s, assigned to the 300th Strategic Wing, RAF Mildenhall, and the 11th Strategic Group, RAF Fairford, UK.

Drastic Changes

What had been drafted as a small, top secret mission had changed drastically. The force now included 18 USAF strike aircraft and four EF-111F electronic warfare aircraft from the 42d Electronic Combat Squadron, RAF Upper Heyford, UK. The lead KC-10 controlled the F-111s.

The size of the attack force went against the judgment of the 48th’s leadership, including that of its commander, Col. Sam W. Westbrook III. With the possibility of surprise gone, the 48th felt that the extra aircraft meant there would be too much time over target, particularly for the nine aircraft assigned to strike the Azziziyah Barracks. Libyan defenses, already on alert, would have time to concentrate on the later waves of attackers.

Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, however, was an advocate of a larger strike, and he was supported in this by Gen. Charles A. Gabriel, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Charles L. Donnelly Jr., commander of United States Air Forces in Europe, and Maj. Gen. David W. Forgan, Donnelly’s operations deputy.

The three USAF officers believed the large force increased the possibility of doing substantial damage to the targets.

On the Navy side, the Sixth Fleet was to attack with the forces arrayed on two carriers. Coral Sea launched eight A-6E medium bombers for the attack and six F/A-18C Hornets for strike support. America launched six A-6Es for the attack and six A-7Es and an EA-6B for strike support. F-14s protected the fleet and aircraft.

A high alert status characterized Soviet vessels in the Mediterranean monitoring ship and aircraft movement. Libya’s vast air defense system was sophisticated, and its operators were acutely aware that an attack was coming. In the wake of the raid, the US compared the Libyan network with target complexes in the Soviet Union and its satellites. Only three were found to have had stronger defenses than the Libyan cities.

The difficulties of the mission were great. Most of the crews had never seen combat. Most had never refueled from a KC-10, and none had done so at night in radio silence. The strike force did benefit from the presence of highly experienced flight leaders, many of them Vietnam combat veterans. They were flying the longest and most demanding combat mission in history against alerted defenses–and doing it in coordination with a naval force more than 3,000 miles distant.

Timing was absolutely critical, and the long route and multiple refuelings increased the danger of a disastrous error. The Air Force and Navy attacks had to be simultaneous to maximize any remaining element of surprise and to get strike aircraft in and out as quickly as possible.

Rules of Engagement

Mission difficulty was compounded by rigorous Rules of Engagement. These ROE stipulated that, before an attack could go forward, the target had to be identified through multiple sources and all mission-critical F-111 systems had to be operating well. Any critical system failure required an immediate abort, even if an F-111 was in the last seconds of its bomb run.

At about midnight GMT, six flights of three F-111Fs each bore down on Tripoli. Fatigue of the long mission was forgotten as the pilots monitored their terrain-following equipment. The weapon system officers prepared for the attack, checking the navigation, looking for targets and offset aiming points, and, most important of all, checking equipment status.

The first three attacking elements, code-named Remit, Elton, and Karma, were tasked to hit Qaddafi’s headquarters at the Azziziyah Barracks. This target included a command and control center but not the Libyan leader’s nearby residence and the Bedouin-style tent he often used. Westbrook proved to be prescient in his belief that nine aircraft were too many to be put against the Azziziyah Barracks, as only two of the nine aircraft dropped their bombs. These, however, would prove to be tremendously important strikes.

One element, Jewel, struck the Sidi Balal terrorist training camp where there was a main complex, a secondary academy, a Palestinian training camp, and a maritime academy under construction. Jewel’s attack was successful, taking out the area where naval commandos trained.

Two elements, Puffy and Lujac, were armed with Mk 82 Snakeye parachute-retarded 500- pound bombs, and they struck the Tripoli airport, destroying three Ilyushin IL-76 transports and damaging three others as well as destroying a Boeing 727 and a Fiat G. 222.

Flying in support of the F-111 attacks were EF-111As and Navy A-7s, A-6Es, and an EA-6B, using HARM and Shrike anti-radar missiles. Similar defense suppression support, including F/A-18s, was provided across the Gulf of Sidra, where Navy A-6E aircraft were to attack the Al Jumahiriya Barracks at Benghazi, and to the east, the Benina airfield. The Navy’s Intruders destroyed four MiG-23s, two Fokker F-27s, and two Mil Mi-8 helicopters.

The Air Force F-111Fs would spend only 11 minutes in the target area, with what at first appeared to be mixed results. Anti-aircraft and SAM opposition from the very first confirmed that the Libyans were ready. News of the raid was broadcast while it was in progress. One aircraft, Karma 52, was lost, almost certainly due to a SAM, as it was reported to be on fire in flight. Capt. Fernando L. Ribas-Dominicci and Capt. Paul F. Lorence were killed. Only Ribas-Dominicci’s body was recovered his remains were returned to the US three years later.

Adrenaline Rush

As each F-111 aircraft exited the target area, they gave a coded transmission, with “Tranquil Tiger” indicating success and “Frostee Freezer” indicating that the target was not hit. Then the crews, flushed with adrenaline from the attack, faced a long flight home, with more in-flight refuelings, the knowledge that one aircraft was down, and the incredible realization that the raid’s results were already being broadcast on Armed Forces Radio. The news included comments from Weinberger and Secretary of State George P. Shultz. One F-111F had to divert to Rota AB, Spain, because of an engine overheat. The mission crew was returned to Lakenheath within two hours.

Early and fragmentary USAF poststrike analysis raised some questions about the performance of the F-111s. Even though all three targets had been successfully struck, only four of the 18 F-111s dropped successfully. Six were forced to abort due to aircraft difficulties or stringencies of the Rules of Engagement. Seven missed their targets and one was lost. There had been collateral damage, with one bomb landing near the French Embassy.

The combined Air Force-Navy raid resulted in 130 civilian casualties with 37 killed, including, it was claimed, the adopted daughter of Qaddafi.

Yet events were soon to prove that the raid had been a genuine success, and as time passed, its beneficial effects would be recognized. It quickly become obvious that Qaddafi, who had exultantly backed the bombing of others, was terribly shaken when the bombs fell near him. His house had been damaged and flying debris had reportedly injured his shoulder. He disappeared from the scene for 24 hours, inspiring some speculation that he had been killed. When he did reappear-on a television broadcast-he was obviously deeply disturbed, lacking his usual arrogance.

Libya protested but received only muted support from Arab nations. In its comments, Moscow was curiously nonjudgmental and withheld a strong endorsement of Qaddafi. More importantly, the following months would see a dramatic decrease in the number of Libyan-sponsored, anti-American terrorist events. The Red Army Faction, one of the groups that had claimed responsibility for the La Belle disco bombing, reduced its activities. Other Libyan-sponsored groups followed suit.

Slight Praise

It became evident that the F-111s and the carrier attack aircraft, ably assisted by Air Force and Navy support units, had achieved a signal success. Ironically, that success was not to receive much formal recognition. There was slight praise for the aircrews. The Air Force declined a nomination for a Presidential Unit Citation, although the Navy awarded its forces a Meritorious Unit Citation. This situation, with an excellent description of the attack, is covered in Robert E. Venkus’ book, Raid on Qaddafi.

Operation El Dorado Canyon was carried out in the finest tradition of the Air Force. Its crews and aircraft were pushed to the absolute limits of their capability. Yet they prevailed, destroying key targets and shocking Qaddafi as a raid on Benghazi alone would never have done. More important, the effect of El Dorado Canyon went far beyond Libya, registering with the entire terrorist world.

Moreover, the raid demonstrated that the United States had the capability, using fighters and large numbers of land-based tankers, to make precision strikes from land bases at very great distances.

Perhaps as important, F-111 problems surfaced during El Dorado Canyon and the Air Force set about fixing them. This was to pay great dividends five years later when, during Operation Desert Storm, the F-111F Pave Tack system flew more missions and destroyed more targets than any other aircraft in that war.

Walter J. Boyne, former director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, is a retired Air Force colonel and author. He has written more than 400 articles about aviation topics and 29 books, the most recent of which is Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story. His most recent article for Air Force Magazine, “Stuart Symington,” appeared in the February 1999 issue.


Legacy of the Wars Against the Barbary Pirates

The threat of the Barbary pirates faded into history, especially as the age of imperialism meant the African states supporting piracy came under the control of European powers. And pirates were mainly found in adventure tales until incidents off the coast of Somalia made headlines in the spring of 2009.

The Barbary Wars were relatively minor engagements, especially when compared to European wars of the period. Yet they provided heroes and thrilling tales of patriotism to the United States as a young nation. And the fights in distant lands can be said to have shaped the young nation's conception of itself as a player on the international stage.

Gratitude is extended to the New York Public Library Digital Collections for the use of images on this page.


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