Terrorism's War with America: A History

By Dennis Piszkiewicz | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Muammar Qaddafi

TARGET: MUAMMAR QADDAFI

Muammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya, continued to be a constant problem for numerous African states, European countries, and the United States because of his support of insurgents and terrorist organizations. 1 The United States began to take action against him and his country when American citizens abroad became targets of, in the judgment of the CIA, Libyan-trained and supported terrorists.

On December 27, 1985, terrorists attacked Christmas travelers at the Rome and Vienna airports, killing a total of nineteen people. Five of these were Americans, one of whom was an eleven-year-old girl. The CIA suspected that Libya had been involved, but there was no hard evidence to connect it to the attacks. 2 Nevertheless, the United States chose to make a statement to Qaddafi with the operation it designated “Prairie Fire.”

On Sunday, March 23, 1986, the United States stationed a flotilla of forty-five ships off the coast of Libya, as it had done in August 1981, in a show of force challenging Qaddafi’s power. Three of the ships, with more than a hundred planes as protective air cover, crossed over the “line of death”—as Qaddafi called it—south of the thirty-second parallel and into the Gulf of Sidra. Within two hours, Libya fired two antiaircraft missiles from land-based sites at two American planes, and it launched four more missiles in the hours that followed. No planes were hit. The United States responded by destroying Libya’s radar installations with air-launched missiles. Libya then sent its patrol boats out after the overwhelming American armada, which sunk at least two of them during the battle.

-61-

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Terrorism's War with America: A History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 - Skyjackers 1
  • Chapter 2 - Who Are the Terrorists? 9
  • Chapter 3 - Nationalists, Communists, and Insurgents 15
  • Chapter 4 - The Palestine Liberation Organization and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine 21
  • Chapter 5 - The Holy War 37
  • Chapter 6 - Reagan Takes on Terrorism 43
  • Chapter 7 - Muammar Qaddafi 61
  • Chapter 8 - Saddam Hussein 71
  • Chapter 9 - The Blind Sheikh and the Mastermind of Terror 83
  • Chapter 10 - America in Retreat 99
  • Chapter 11 - Osama Bin Laden 107
  • Chapter 12 - Al Qaeda’s War 113
  • Chapter 13 - The Past and the Future 127
  • Epilogue 137
  • Appendix 1 141
  • Appendix 2 145
  • Appendix 3 147
  • Appendix 4 165
  • Selected Bibliography 191
  • Index 195
  • About the Author 203
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