October 24, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hezbollah Threatens U.S., Israel 40 Years After Deadly Beirut Blast

October 24, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hezbollah Threatens U.S., Israel 40 Years After Deadly Beirut Blast

Latest Developments

October 23 marked the 40th anniversary of the suicide bombing that took the lives of 241 U.S. peacekeepers in Beirut, 58 French servicemembers carrying out the same mission, and six civilians. Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini approved the operation in advance, which was carried out by Tehran’s Lebanese partners — who would unveil themselves as Hezbollah in 1985.

Amidst days of anti-American and anti-Israel protests in Lebanon, U.S. Ambassador to Beirut Dorothy Shea asserted, “we reject, and the Lebanese people reject, the threats of some to drag Lebanon into a new war. We continue to renounce any attempts to shape the region’s future through intimidation, violence, and terrorism – and here I am talking about not just Iran and Hizballah, but also Hamas and others, who falsely paint themselves as a noble ‘resistance,’ and who most certainly do not represent the aspirations – or the values – of the Palestinian people, while they try to rob Lebanon and its people of their bright future.”

Expert Analysis

“Iran’s role in the murder of 241 U.S. peacekeepers, 58 French troops, and six civilians has never been in doubt despite Iran’s many public denials. As time passes, some former Iranian leaders have become brazen enough to take responsibility for this mass murder. In an interview on state television last month, Ayatollah Khomeini’s then representative in Lebanon, Sayyed Issa Tabatabai, admitted his role in the ‘martyrdom operations.’ If we don’t hold Iran accountable in ways that reverberate in the mind of today’s supreme leader, we will continue to face Iran’s mass atrocities as we are seeing unfold in Israel and Gaza.” Toby Dershowitz, FDD Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy

“‘The 40th anniversary of the Beirut bombing underscores how the Tehran regime has relied on terror since its founding. It had no reservations then about having Hezbollah slaughter American and French peacekeepers, just as it has none today about enabling the Hamas massacre of Israeli men, women, and children. From day one, ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ have been policies, not just slogans.” — David Adesnik, Senior Fellow and Director of Research 

Iranian Official Confesses to Iran’s Role in the Beirut Bombing

During an interview with the official IRNA news agency published on September 23, Sayyed Issa Tabatabai, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s representative in Lebanon, who at the time of the bombing served as the representative in Lebanon of then Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, said: “I received from Imam Khomeini the fatwa [ordering] martyrdom operations against the Americans,” “I … provided what was needed in order to [carry out] martyrdom operations in the place where the Americans and Israelis were,” and “he confirmed this three times…”

U.S. Court Held Iran Legally Culpable in Beirut Bombing of Marine Barracks

Two decades ago, Federal Judge Royce Lamberth found that “the complicity of Iran in the 1983 attack was established conclusively.” Lamberth’s finding was part of his ruling in Peterson vs. Islamic Republic of Iran, a case brought by the families of the victims of the Beirut bombing. Lamberth held Iran legally accountable for the bombing and the murder of the U.S. servicemembers.

Testimony from Admiral James Lyons, a deputy Chief of Naval Operations from 1983 to 1985, played a key role in the decision. Lyons said he was alerted in September 1983 to a U.S. intercept of communications between Iranian intelligence and Tehran’s ambassador in Damascus, Ali Akbar Mohtashemipour, in September 1983. The message to Mohtashemipour, who served as a liaison to Tehran’s Lebanese partners and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, called for “a spectacular action against the United States Marines.” The attack, Lamberth wrote, was the “largest non-nuclear explosion that had ever been detonated on the face of the Earth.”

Hezbollah Maintains Dangerous Arsenal in the Region

Hezbollah reportedly has approximately 150,000 rockets and missiles, most with a range of a few dozen kilometers, though some assessments say a substantial number can reach targets located hundreds of kilometers from Lebanon. It has launched rockets into Israel from Lebanese territory including in recent days. Once a militia that operated in the shadows and had few supporters, today Hezbollah effectively controls Lebanon.

The Hezbollah Threat: From the Marine Barracks Bombing to Today,” by Toby Dershowitz and Behnam Ben Taleblu

The Threat of Hezbollah Joining Hamas and Why Israel and the US Should be Prepared,” by David Adesnik

Iran-Backed Terror on Northern Border Threatens to Open New Front,” FDD Flash Brief


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Jihadism