During the 1960's, Americans were able to watch the Vietnam War from the comfort of their own living rooms. And it was comfortable. The war was on the other side of the world and the U.S. mainland was well insulated from it. The 70's saw Americans watching the Yom Kippur War, the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union and the Iran-Iraq War on the Boob Tube. Still, the mainland U.S. was well-insulated. The idea of "terrorism" was not a household consideration yet, even with the killing of Isreali athletes at Munich, which we all watched on TV as well.
Then we get to the 1980's and suddenly, Islamic fundamentalists decide that it is time to unleash a "jihad" against the Western World. (Interesting note: the Soviet Union was almost never a target for terrorists. In fact, many of the weapons and information used by terrorists in the 80's were supplied by Eastern bloc agencies.) It was the most active time that terrorism had ever seen. Once again, we watched it on our TV sets from the comfort of our living rooms. Only now, we did not feel so isolated.
We saw the bodies of innocent people, mercilessly gunned down by goons praising the name of "Allah" while they killed little children and elderly grandparents. Why? In the view of the average terrorist (who rarely held rational beliefs) those little children could grow into adults and join the fight against the "exportation of revolution" and therefore it was better to kill them now rather than risk them joining the war later. And the elderly? They had already done their part against the "revolution" and deserved to be punished for it.
But, we learned very quickly that a terrorist could strike at anytime, anywhere and no place was safe anymore. These cowards would normally go after the "easy" or "soft" targets and leave the "hard" targets be. This was because there was a greater chance of success against an easy target. After all, a bully doesn't pick on someone who has the chance of fighting back. (The notable exception to this was the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut. However, the rules of engagement imposed upon the Marines by the Congress dictated that the Marine sentries were not allowed to have live rounds.)
Thus, we shed tears for names like Natasha Simpson and Leon Klinghoffer. We learned to loathe names like Yassir Arafat, Abu Nidal, and Maummar Qadaffi. It became commonplace to hear organization names like PLO, ANO and Red Brigade.
Continue on to the next page to read about some of the more heinous attacks that terrorists pulled off in the 1980's.