Tuesday's attack at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt was nothing new for American envoys and their staffs.
Throughout the years U.S. embassies all over the world have been targets of protests and violence by terrorist groups and discontented citizens trying to make a point, or just generally cause chaos and mayhem. Here is a list of such incidents stretching back almost fifty years.
Libreville, Gabon, March 5 and 8, 1964,: After a failed coup d'etat two weeks prior, the U.S. embassy began receiving threatening phone calls. At 8:15 pm on March 5, a small bomb exploded outside the empty embassy, cracking a few windows. On the evening of March 8, another small bomb exploded 50 feet from the embassy, causing no damage, and a drive-by shooting damaged an out wall. No one was hurt.
Saigon, Vietnam, January 31, 1968: Shortly after midnight on January 31, small group of Viet Cong fighters blasted a hole in the wall of the U.S. Embassy and engaged marines at the embassy in a firefight. By 9 am, the embassy was declared secure. The U.S. had been involved in the conflict in Vietnam for 2 and half years already at the time, and the incident was deeply unsettling to American interests in Vietnam.
Tehran, Iran, November 4, 1979: The attack that came to be known as the 'Iran Hostage Crisis' began at 6:30 am the morning of November 4, when a few hundred Iranian students called the "Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line" cut the fence to the U.S. embassy and broke through the gates. They initially intended only to make a symbolic occupation, but after the Ayatollah Khomeini expressed his support, and crowds outside the embassy cheered the students on, the occupation's goals changed. The hostages were held for 444 days, until January 20, 1981. A disastrous attempted rescue operation resulted in the deaths of 8 American servicemen and one Iranian civilian. The 52 hostages were released almost immediately after Ronald Regan was sworn into office.
Islamabad, Pakistan, November 22, 1979: Sparked by a report that the U.S. had bombed one of the holiest sites in the Muslim world, the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, a group of Pakistani students stormed the embassy and burned it down. The radio report turned out to be false: a Saudi Arabian had led a seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, two days earlier and took hundreds of people there for their pilgrimage hostage. Ayatollah Khomeini claimed that the U.S. was behind the attack.
Tripoli, Libya, December 2, 1979: The U.S. embassy was burned in retaliation for the supposed U.S.-led takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. After the attack, all U.S. personnel were pulled out of Libya. The U.S. did not re-instate its diplomats in Libya until 2004.
Beirut, Lebanon, April 18, 1983: A suicide car bomb killed 63 people, including members of the U.S. embassy and CIA. The attack happened just after the Western-led Multinational Force had decided to intervene in the Lebanese Civil War. The Islamic Jihadist Organization took responsibility, saying, "This is part of the Iranian revolution's campaign against imperialist targets throughout the world. We shall keep striking at any imperialist presence in Lebanon, including the international force."
Kuwait City, Kuwait, December 12, 1983: A truck rammed into the front gates of the U.S. embassy and exploded, killing five people. The U.S. embassy was one of several targets hit that day, including the French embassy and the Kuwait International Airport.
Jakarta, Indonesia, May 1986: The Japanese Red Army fired on the Japanese, Canadian, and U.S. embassies. The Red Army's goals included overthrowing the Japanese government and starting a world revolution.
Rome, Italy, June 1987: The Japanese Red Army again fired on the U.S. and British embassies in Rome.
Lima, Peru, January 15, 1990: The Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, a left-wing insurgent group, bombed the U.S. embassy.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, August 7, 1998: The bombings of these two embassies brought the name "Osama Bin Laden" to Americans' lips for the first time. The bombings resulted in over 4,000 people injured and 223 dead. The bombings are believed to have been a retaliatory move for the arrest and torture of four members of the Al-Qaeda affiliate, The Egyptian Islamist Jihad.
Paris, France, September 13, 2001: Four men were arrested in Rotterdam on conspiracy to plant a suicide bomber in the U.S. embassy in Paris. The NATO headquarters in Brussels was also targeted. The plot was discovered in July 2001 when a conspirator named Djamel Beghal was arrested in Dubai for passport fraud. He confessed after an interrogation. All the conspirators were part of a small satellite of Al-Qaeda.
Karachi, Pakistan, June 14, 2002, February 28, 2003, March 15, 2004, and March 2, 2006:The string of bombings and attempted bombings outside the U.S. consult in Karachi were thought to be in retaliation for the War on Terror in Afghanistan, and later Iraq. The first bomb in June 2002 was a suicide bomber, who killed 12 and injured 51 people. In February 2003, a gunman killed two police officer and injured five others outside the consulate. In March 2004, an attempted bombing was stopped when police discovered 200 gallons of liquid explosives in the back of a truck. In March 2006, another suicide bomber killed six people outside a nearby Marriott Hotel.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, July 30, 2004: The U.S. and Israeli embassies were targeted by suicide bombers. Two security guards were killed.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, December 6, 2004: Militants breached the outer wall of the U.S. consulate and began shooting, but did not enter the consulate. Five civilians and the gunmen were killed. Ten people were wounded.
Damascus, Syria, September 12, 2006: Three gunmen were killed after they tossed grenades over the embassy's outer wall and a car bomb exploded outside the embassy. A Syrian security guard and a Chinese diplomat also died.
Athens, Greece, January 12, 2007: A rocket-propelled grenade was fired into the front of the U.S. embassy around 6 am in the morning. No one was killed or hurt. A Greek terrorist group called "Revolutionary Struggle" claimed responsibility.
Istanbul, Turkey, July 9, 2008: Kurdish Turks open fired around 11 am, killing six people and injuring one. The three men had suspected Al-Qaeda links, but this was never proven.
San'a, Yemen, September 7, 2008: 19 people died and at least 16 were injured when a group of men disguised at police attacked the outer security rim of the U.S. embassy. Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic Jihad of Yemen claimed responsibility.