Saturday night, April 5 1986: The dance floor of the La Belle nightclub in the Friedenau district of Berlin was full of revelers enjoying an evening out. At 1:49 am, however, the party abruptly ended
There was a large explosion. The force ripped open the floor of the club sending a number of guests tumbling into the cellar below. The bomb, placed under a table near the DJ booth, killed Nermin Hannay, a Turkish woman, and Sgt.Kenneth T. Ford, a US army sergeant, instantly. Another US soldier James E. Goins died two months later from his injuries. The blast injured a further 230 people including more than 50 American servicemen who regularly attended the club, popular as it was with US soldiers deployed in the West German capital during the Cold War. Nine days later, US President Ronald Reagan unleashed Operation El Dorado Canyon, a series of retaliatory airstrikes involving warplanes from the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps against Libya – the origin of the terrorists as discovered in cable transcripts between Tripoli and the Libyan embassy in East Berlin which were obtained by West German and US authorities in the days following the bombing.