Moments Posted in Hostage

This is an archive of Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History posted in the Hostage category.

Admitting the Shah to the U.S.:  Every Form of Refuge has its Price






Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, departed Iran on January 16, 1979, fleeing political unrest led by the Ayatollah Khomeini and seeking medical treatment for lymphoma. Pahlavi first flew to Aswan, Egypt, where Anwar Sadat welcomed him, and would spend the next ten months moving among Morocco, Mexico, the Bahamas and Panama while requesting […]






What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Tales from Rough First Tours






Life in the Foreign Service certainly has its advantages – working in often exotic locales, meeting fascinating people, being a part of important, sometimes historical, events. But, like other glamorous jobs, it has its drawbacks, not the least of which come with the drudgery of first and sometimes second tours, where most FSOs end up […]






“Years of Lead” — Domestic Terrorism and Italy’s Red Brigades






Beginning in 1970 and spanning over a decade, the “Brigate Rosse” (Red Brigades) and other smaller groups incited a wave of fear across Italy as political sabotage, kidnappings, and murders shook many metropolitan centers in what was later called “The Years of Lead.” Boasting up to a thousand members in their heyday, the Red Brigades […]






Billion-dollar “Plan Colombia” to End Decades of Civil War






A guerrilla organization known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo, FARC–EP and FARC) has been at war with the Colombian government since 1964, marking it as the hemisphere’s longest-running armed conflict. The FARC has claimed to be a Marxist-Leninist army representing the rural poor […]






Creating Yaounde’s First Consulate






The first official U.S. diplomatic post in Cameroon was founded in 1957 during its waning days as a United Nations trust territory. The country was divided between the French and the British; both colonial powers had been preparing their respective territories for self-rule since the end of the Second World War. With other nations, including Morocco, […]






Escape from Japanese Internment in China






In June of 1937, Beijing became one of the first cities to fall as Japanese forces began their conquest of China. In contrast to the atrocities committed by Imperial forces during their capture of Nanjing in December of that year, residents of Beijing lived relatively peaceful lives after occupation. This included the city’s population of […]






Iran-Contra: Who Knew What When?






In the Iran-Contra Affair, Colonel Oliver North and others within the National Security Council and CIA used back channels and secret bank accounts to funnel money from arms deals with Iran, which was then under an arms embargo, to the Contra rebels fighting the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua. One aim of this plan was to […]






Pablo Escobar and the Siege of Colombia’s Palace of Justice






Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, the wealthiest criminal in history once responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine entering the U.S., was also believed to be the force behind the siege on Colombia’s Supreme Court on November 6, 1985.  The assault marks one of the deadliest conflicts between the Colombian government and revolutionary groups. By […]






A Tale of Two Countries — and One Bizarre Hostage Situation






If you think your relationships are complex, consider the convoluted ties among Ghana, Guinea, and the United States in the mid-1960s. The friendship between Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, and Guinea’s first President, Ahmed Sékou Touré, proved problematic for the United States, and even led to the first U.S. diplomatic hostage situation, years before Iran. […]






The PFLP Hijacking of TWA Flight 840






Thomas Boyatt was on his way to Cyprus to resume his post as political officer on August 29, 1969 when his flight, TWA 840, was hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).  They believed that Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., was aboard the flight. The hijackers, Leila […]






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