Bookmark and Share  



E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Announcements

 American Ambassadors Killed (1968 - 1976)

American Ambassadors Killed (1968 - 1976)
CIA and State Department Files

1,330 pages of CIA and State Department Documents related to the murders of American Ambassadors killed during the performance for their duties, 1968 to 1976.

Also included in this collection is a report produced by the State Department on the history of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, titled, "History of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the United States Department of State."


From 1968 to 1979 five American Ambassadors were killed in service: John Gordon Mein, in Guatemala, on August 28, 1968; Cleo A. Noel, Jr., in Sudan, on March 1, 1973; Rodger P. Davies, in Cyprus, on August 19, 1974; Francis E. Meloy Jr., in Lebanon, on June 16, 1975; and Adolph Dubs, Afghanistan, on February 14, 1979. The documents in this collection relate to the homicides of the first four.

John Gordon Mein United States Ambassador to Guatemala  Assassinated on August 28, 1968

John Gordon Mein United States Ambassador to Guatemala Assassinated on August 28, 1968

John Gordon Mein United States Ambassador to Guatemala (196568)

John Gordon Mein became the first U.S. Ambassador to be murdered when on August 28, 1968, he was shot and killed by Guatemalan rebels who were attempting to kidnap him.

After Guatemalan President Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro took office in 1966, he launched a major counterinsurgency campaign against Marxist guerrillas in the Guatemalan countryside. In 1968, the guerrillas were responding with attacks against targets in Guatemala City. On August 28, 1968, a group of rebels used cars to box-in Mein's chauffeur driven Cadillac. After they ordered Mein out of his car, the Ambassador attempted to run away, and he was cut down by a hail of gunfire from the rebels.

It is believed that the gunmen were attempting to kidnap Mein to use him as a bargaining chip to get the release of FAR rebel leader Carlos Francisco Ordonez, who was arrested in Guatemala City four days earlier.

CIA files show that weeks before Mein became the first American ambassador killed at his post, bombs were placed at his residence. A CIA memo contains information supplied by a suspect detained by Guatemalan officials about the planning of the attack on Mein. An intelligence cable sent from Guatemala contains information about a French woman, believed to have been the mistress of Ordonez, suspected of participating in the attempted abduction of Mein, who committed suicide when police went to her home. A memo details information obtained from a CIA source on the planning by FAR members to assassinate the new American ambassador to Guatemala.


Cleo A. Noel, Jr. United States Ambassador to Sudan (1972-73)

United States diplomatic relations with Sudan were severed due to Sudan's involvement in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. After diplomatic relations were re-established Cleo A. Noel Jr. was appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Sudan on December 23, 1972. On March 1, 1973 a diplomatic reception was held at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Sudan to pay tribute to George Curtis Moore, the departing American Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassy in Sudan and to welcome the arriving new Ambassador Noel.

As the reception was coming to a close, eight Palestinian gunmen stormed the Saudi Arabian Embassy. The terrorists were members of the Black September faction of the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLO). The terrorists took ten diplomats hostage including Noel and Moore.

Black September demands for the release of the hostages were the freeing of 60 Palestinian prisoners in Jordan, all female Arab prisoners in Israel, Sirhan Sirhan the assassin of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and the release of Bader-Meinhoff Gang members imprisoned in Germany. Soon after the demands were revised downward to the release of 17 Palestinians jailed in Jordan. President Richard Nixon announced that blackmail would not be paid to terrorists.

On March 2, 1973, the hostage takers killed Noel, Moore, and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid.

The eight terrorists were later convicted in Sudan and sentenced to life in prison. The Sudanese court, however, reduced their sentence to 7 years, and the men were transferred to Egypt, where they were to serve their prison sentences.

CIA files in this collection state that The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the head of Fatah.


Rodger P. Davies, United States Ambassador to Cyprus, (1973-74)

On July 15, 1974, the Greek Cypriot paramilitary organization EOKA-B staged a military coup, removing Cypriot president Archbishop Makarios III and installing pro-Greek Nikos Sampson. On July 20, 1975, Turkey invaded Cyprus and Makarios was returned to power. Many Greek Cypriots blamed the United States for the Turkish invasion.

On August 19, 1974 a group of Greek Cypriots were holding a demonstration at the American Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus. While standing in a hallway inside the embassy, a sniper shot and killed Ambassador Davies. Antoinette Varnavas, an embassy secretary, went to the aid of Davies. She was then shot and killed by the sniper.

State Department documents show continued efforts by the United States to get officials in Cyprus to find and bring to justice those responsible for the killings at the American Embassy. In 1977, the investigation into the murders lead to five suspects being arrested and charged with homicide. These charges were dropped. Later two of the men were charged with participating in the August 19, 1974 demonstration and were sentenced to five and seven years in prison.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Francis E. Meloy assassinated on June 16, 1975 arrival ceremony

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Francis E. Meloy assassinated on June 16, 1975 arrival ceremony

Francis E. Meloy Jr., United States Ambassador to Lebanon, (May 1, 1976-June 16, 1976)

On June 16, 1976, Ambassador Meloy and U.S. Economic Counselor Robert O. Waring were being driven by embassy driver Zuhair Mohammed Moghrabito to meet with Lebanon's president Suleiman Frangieh. When their car crossed the Green Line, the border between Christian and Muslim Beirut, they were abducted by gunmen belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). That same day the bodies of the three men were found on Ramlet al, a beach in Beirut, Lebanon.

In 1994, two PFLP guerillas Bassem Farkh and Namek Kamal, who were arrested for the murders, were sentenced to death by a Lebanese court. In March 1996, the two men were released from prison. A Lebanese appeals court found that the men were covered by a 1991 agreement that gave amnesty to those who committed political crimes during the civil war in Lebanon.


A 476 page State Department history titled, "History of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the United States Department of State." This work covers the history of the Department of State's handing of security threats and crises.

The history examines measures the Department of States utilized to meet these security issues such as codes, couriers, espionage countermeasures, physical security, and protective details.

Each chapter details a unique set of diplomatic threats and how Department officials devised new countermeasures to respond to the new threats, often building upon existing measures or innovating new ones.

The chapters cover:

Creating the Office of the Chief Special Agent, 1914-1933
World War II and Diplomatic Security
Cold War, 1945-1950
McCarthyism And Cold War
Diplomatic Security in the 1950s
Spies, Leaks, Bugs, and Diplomats
Diplomatic Security in the 1960s
Terrorism and Diplomatic Security, 1967-1978
A Bureau for Diplomatic Security, 1986-1992
Diplomatic Security, Terrorism, and the Post-Cold War World, 1992-2000
New Millennium, New Challenges, New Responsibilities, 2001-2010


The PDF files below require the use of a PDF reader such as Acrobat Reader . The latest version of Reader can be download for free at adobe.com


AmericanAmbassadorsKilledFiles.pdf (29 MB)

E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Announcements