April 18 2022 — Monique Lewis was just hours into her first day as a CIA officer when a suicide bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983. Her husband, James Lewis, a paramilitary officer there, was also killed. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
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UPDATE (April 18 2022) — Whodunit? Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah’s operatives, or Fatah proxies?
The terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 18, 1983, killed 63 people.
The attack was carried out as a suicide car bombing, in which a Chevrolet pickup truck that had been packed with about 2,000 pounds of explosives sped through the gate of the U.S. embassy in West Beirut and struck the building.
The resulting blast killed 32 Lebanese workers, 17 Americans, and 14 other individuals. Among the Americans killed were a journalist and eight members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). About 120 others were injured.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. However, on May 30, 2003, Judge Royce Lamberth of the US District Court in Washington, D.C. determined that the bombing was carried out by the militant group Hezbollah with the approval and financing of senior Iranian officials.
It is not immediately clear how Hezbollah, founded in 1985, could have been responsible for the 1983 bombing?
The U.S. embassy attack was followed in October 1983 by bombings of U.S. Marine and French military barracks. The attack killed 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French paratroopers. The incident was also linked to Islamic Jihad.
Five months following the second attack, the Lebanese government authority in West Beirut collapsed. In February 1984, U.S. officials announced the withdrawal of the U.S. troops, which was followed shortly thereafter by the pullout of Italian, British, and French troops. [Britannica]
[Did you know? On April 19 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 and injuring almost a thousand people. Initially, the FBI assumed that Hezbollah was behind the blast, due to the similarities with the 1983 Beirut Embassy bombing.]
Robert Baer — a CIA agent in Beirut at that time — concluded in 1987 that Iran, employing local Fatah proxies (not Hezbollah’s operatives), was the key player behind the embassy bombing. The Agency never accepted his finding.
Many books and articles have been published on the Beirut attacks. But the truth is that, almost 40 years later, the culprits have not been identified with certainty.
The Beirut barracks bombing prompted a review of overseas security for the U.S. Department of State known as the Inman Report.
END of UPDATE
James Foley Lewis, (29 February 1944—18 April 1983) joined the United States Army on 28 February 1962 and qualified as a Green Beret. In 1967 he was serving with the MIKE Force in South Vietnam.
Due to his experience in covert paramilitary operations, Lewis was recruited into the CIA in 1970.
Following his return from Vietnam, Lewis attended George Washington University where he studied French literature, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1977. During this time he met Monique Nuet, a Vietnamese-born pharmacologist and they were married in 1977.
In 1979 Lewis undertook Arabic language training in preparation for assignment to the Middle East. He was first assigned to Tunis and was then transferred to Beirut on temporary assignment on August 13 1982.
Lewis was appointed as Deputy Station Chief while his wife Monique gained security clearance and was due to start work as a CIA secretary on 18 April 1983.
Monique and James were killed on April 18 1983 when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at the US Embassy in Beirut.
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A special page “CIA Book of Honor” has been created. This will allow you to find easily the references to the stars we have already written about. I will try to keep this page up to date.
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A total of 63 people were killed in the explosion including Robert Ames, Kenneth E. Haas — the CIA Lebanon station chief — and thirteen other Americans.
Monique and James Lewis are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. They were only acknowledged as CIA employees in 2012. They are memorialized on the CIA Memorial Wall.
PS: Did you know Monique Lewis? Would you like to share a story? Just let us know.
Women of the CIA — Newsweek
The Mystery of Jane Wallis Burrell: The First CIA Officer To Die in the Agency’s Service — CIA news & Information
Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Barbara A. Robbins — CIA Website
Tribute to Women Who Have Died — STUDIES IN INTELLIGENCE
REAGAN SAYS BLAST WON’T DETER PEACE EFFORTS — NYT 21 April 1983
Memorial Service 1983 — CIA Website
Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Jacqueline K. Van Landingham — CIA Website
U.S. Seeking 3 Gunmen In Karachi — NYT March 10 1995
Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Leslianne Shedd — CIA Website
CIA Adds Four Stars to Memorial Wall — CIA website May 21 2006
Khowst – 5 Years Later — Cia Website
Who was Elizabeth Hanson? — COLBY Magazine
Silent Stars — The Washingtonian
Remembering CIA Monique N. Lewis (October 29, 1946 – April 18, 1983) [UPDATE : Whodunit? Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah’s operatives, or Fatah proxies?]