On this day: October 5th
Iran-Contra scandal goes public — 1986
Believing any further encroachment of Communism in the western hemisphere to be a direct threat to the United States, from the beginning of his time as president, Ronald Reagan supported the Contras, a paramilitary group who opposed the communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. However, Congress expressly forbade supporting their cause once it became clear the Contras were corrupt and violent.
Believing to have found a workaround that would also help secure the release of American hostages held in Iran, the Reagan administration devised a plan to sell weapons to the Iranian regime, and use part of that money to funnel to the Contras in their war in Nicaragua. With Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North helping to grease the skids with all parties involved, the CIA soon had supplies flowing to the Contras in direct violation of Congress’ wishes.
It all came to a head when Eugene Hasenfus’ aircraft was downed over Nicaragua on October 5th 1986, killing two other people on board. Hasenfus was detained by the Sandinistas, and confessed that he was running guns for the Contras, and it was all sponsored by the CIA. After repeated denials from the Reagan administration, a Congressional investigation that winter revealed it all to be true.
Hasenfus was tried and convicted to 30 years in prison in Nicaragua, but was released shortly after being detained.
Simultaneous JSOC raids in Libya and Somalia – 2013
Two operations executed on the same day only two hours apart in 2013 demonstrated the flexibility and capability that JSOC had achieved after more than a decade evolution in the GWOT. In Libya, Delta operators with the assistance of F.B.I. Hostage Rescue Team operators apprehended and arrested Abu Anas al-Libi, a Libyan terrorist who had been indicted years prior for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Without firing a shot, Delta snatched al-Libi as he was returning from his morning prayers in Tripoli.
Across the continent in Somalia, SEAL Team Six planned to grab Abdikadar Mohamed Abdikadar, the al-Shabaab leader who was believed to be responsible for the attack on the Nairobi, Kenya shopping mall only a few weeks prior. After making a successful infil, Team 6 operators were compromised by an alert sentry who opened fire on them. The on-scene commander concluded that the SEALs could still enter and clear the compound, but in doing so would virtually guarantee the deaths of women and children. Knowing this, the SEALs withdrew without capturing their target. Their target remains at large.