TIMELINES: What CIA operative was kidnapped, and tortured to death, by Hezbollah March 16, 1984?

March 16, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Friday, Mar. 16, 2012


On March 16, 1984, Islamic terror group Hezbollah kidnap decorated Lt. Col. William Francis Buckley, chief CIA operative with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. After 15 months in captivity Buckley dies of torture. Hezbollah boasts of his death in 1985, but the CIA waits until 1987 to publicly acknowledge his death with a memorial service. His remains are not recovered from Lebanon until 1991. Buckley served in the Korea and Vietnam wars and worked with the CIA from 1955 to 1957 as well as from 1965 until his death.


In November, Hezbollah in Lebanon captured a number of CIA spies who had infiltrated their ranks dealing a significant blow to the CIA particularly its counterintelligence efforts. The incident followed several months of the CIA knowing that some spies had already been exposed so it had been clambering to protect the rest. Before 9/11, Hezbollah was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist group. The State Department has described Hezbollah as “the most technically capable terrorist group in the world.”