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Recovered History / October 26, 2011
By Mark Ames

If you’re feeling like you’re being taken for a ride with all this nonsense about Iranian-Narco-Mexican terror hit-squads infiltrating this great nation, read on…

Last week, the curtains finally came down on Col. Qaddafi. The week before that, we were treated to a scary, impossible-to-believe, slapstick assassination plot involving Iran’s Quds terror agency, some shady Persian hustler with a mullet who looks like the villain in True Lies, and Los Zetas, the Mexican narco-gangsters–creating a perfect narco-Islamo-fasci-terrorist threat.

It’s all a little hard to swallow. How does a government agency deal with a skeptical public? By acting like no one’s as skeptical as they are. Yep, even the FBI is telling friendly right-wing media outlets that they too thought the plot was too ridiculous to be believed:

“Initially, some of us were shaking our heads, asking is this for real,” says an FBI official. “One would assume we were dealing with a sophisticated, well-funded service,” referring to Iran’s Quds Force.

What’s been forgotten is that 30 years ago, these same three countries–Iran, Libya and Mexico–all starred in an equally bizarre, fantastical, impossible-to-believe assassination plot, which was also greeted with skepticism by much of the American media and public. It was Jack Anderson, the famous columnist, who whipped up the terror-plot hysteria as a favor to his buddies in the Reagan White House–and it was Jack who later turned around and complained that only a fool would’ve believed it.

First, here is Jack Anderson breaking the scary story of Qaddafi hit-squads infiltrating America, in October, 1981:

Keep in mind, Reagan had just survived an assassination attempt a few months earlier by a rich pudgy nerd named John Hinckley, Jr. Assassinations in the USA were still big business then, so as a rule, Americans were ready to take assassination plots seriously. So long as the plot made a modicum of sense. According to Jack Anderson’s October scoop, Qaddafi (or Khadafy–even 30 years ago they couldn’t agree on how to spell the damn thing) was busted by the NSA discussing his assassination plans with Ethiopia’s Mengistu Halle Mariam, the leader of the  “Derg”– which was Ethiopia’s version of the Khmer Rouge. Because you know, when you’re serious about assassinating the president of the most powerful country in the world, the first thing you want to do is reach for the the Libya-Derg Hotline because you really can’t go forward with something like this until you’ve discussed it thoroughly with Ethiopia’s Top Derg.

Anderson doesn’t explain why that makes sense. Instead, he lays out a motive, arguing  that Qaddafi might have been “justified” in targeting Reagan because an ex-CIA honcho named Edwin Wilson, who’d spent most of the 1970s on Qaddafi’s payroll, training up and arming Qaddafi’s elite bodyguards and assassinating Qaddafi’s overseas opponents (yep it just gets weirder and weirder)–anyway, this same Edwin Wilson had just been instructed by the CIA (whom he supposedly no longer worked for) to turn on his benefactor Qaddafi, using a really bad novelty-store fly gag as the weapon: “The CIA reportedly planned to employ a poison dart disguised as a black fly,” Anderson wrote.

A “black fly”? It’s like they weren’t even trying.

And from there, as they say, the plot thickened. By late November, 1981, thanks in part to more scary Jack Anderson columns, the media was in a panic over Libyan assassination hit-squads infiltrating the US through Mexico, fanning out to assassinate The Gipper, Bush Sr., Haig, and whoever else was worth their while.

Funny thing is that people weren’t really buying it. Qaddafi was mocking him on American news programs. It was enough to give Reagan a hissy-fit, the thought that people might actually take Qaddafi at his word (maybe because it made no fucking sense whatsoever why he’d try something as idiotic as this):

“I wouldn’t believe a word he says if I were you,” Reagan said of Khadafy. “We have the evidence and he knows it.”

Still, the American public wasn’t buying it–or they just plain weren’t getting properly scared enough. At that time, Qaddafi didn’t strike most Americans as someone who qualified as a “serious scary guy.” If anything, Qaddafi was kind of funny. Like when he riffed on ABC News with a “bounces-off-of-me/sticks-to-you” against Reagan:

Khadafy, interviewed by ABC correspondent Lou Cloffi, said he was surprised by reports he had sent an assassination squad to America.

“We are ready to make investigation [into the reports] and to see who is liar, and you will see–Reagan is liar,” Khadafy said.

And, he added, “It is the behavior of America, preparing to assassinate me, to poison my food. They tried many things to do this.”

(If I were a real comedian here, I’d say, “Waiter, there’s a black fly in my soup–agh!” Hey, is this mike on? Hello?)

Anyway, by mid-December, 1981, with the public not sufficiently scared, Jack Anderson doubled down. By literally doubling down: Now, he said, there were not one but TWO Islamic hit squads roaming around America unnoticed, waterskiing like they owned the place: Besides the Libyan hit team, we now another hit squad, this one composed of Iranian terrorists. And here’s the kicker: The Iranian team included a celebrity–none other than fatso white guy with a .22, John Hinckley.

Allahu Akhbar? Iranian super-terrorist John Hinckley, Jr.

It sounds like that scene in Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian, when the two Jewish terrorist groups bump into each other in Pilate’s palace, get into a fight over who was there first, and comedy hijinx ensue. Only you weren’t supposed to laugh at this, you were supposed to be scared or something:

Libyan gunmen aren’t the only ones trying to kill President Reagan. Iranian terrorists have also targeted him for assassination–and there’s a wild possibility that they may have been behind the shooting of the president last March 30.

As with today’s Iranian-Zetas plot, this 1981 tale came courtesy of the ol’ “inside informant”–the most reliable storytellers on the planet, those informants are–who provided the details to Jack Anderson’s sidekick, a certain “Corky Johnson” (I swear I’m not making this shit up folks, Jack Anderson really employed a guy named “Corky Johnson” like that little SNL gay dude from the 90s). Here’s what “Corky” discovered:

Clue No. 1–An American member of Islamic Guerrilla Army informed FBI and Secret Service on Jan 26, 1981, that the terrorist group planned to assassinate Reagan sometime between mid-March and early April. Hinckley’s attempt fit into this schedule. [BA-BOOM! GAME OVER! –Ed.]

Clue No. 2–The IGA informant identified one member of the assassination team by the code-name “Hicks”–a student who had been arrested in Nashville in October 1980 for illegal possession of firearms. Hinckley was in fact arrested at the Nashville airport that month for illegal possession of firearms.

Whoa-whoa-whoa–did you just say “Code Name ‘Hicks'”? You mean the Iranian terrorists disguised their super-asset “Hinckley” by giving him the super-secret code-name “Hicks”? Really? That’s not even funny anymore–it’s just insulting.

But here’s the funniest part: The IGA informant told Corky that the reason why he turned against his radical Islamo-terrorist comrades was because, get this: “he thought assassinating the president was ‘going too far.'”

Yeah, I mean really, hijacking is one thing, that’s meat ‘n’ potatoes terrorism stuff that anyone can get behind. But killing a president? Since when did terrorists do that? What’s that gonna solve, fellas? I mean, can’t we all just get along?

Well anyway, Americans weren’t quite as retarded back then as we are today–either that or they had more dignity, which if you think about it is one of the prerequisites to intelligence. They didn’t buy it.

The story had so many giant slapstick holes in it that just a few weeks after feeding the public the two-Muslim-hitsquads-plus-Hinckley story, Jack Anderson turned around and demanded to know who was the asshole who spread that rumor? Actually no, I take that back–Anderson went one joke further and actually sneered at anyone dumb enough to fall for it, as if he knew it was a joke all along, which is why everyone should listen to Jack Anderson if they don’t want to get duped (by Jack Anderson):

Why so few swallowed Libyan ‘hit squad’ theory

Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker announced weeks ago that the threat to President Reagan and other high officials from Libyan assassination squads was “diminishing.” What was diminishing was the credibility of the reported threat.

You can never be too shameless, can you Jack.

While Jack was covering his tracks and pointing fingers at all the fools who fell for the Libyan assassination hit-teams fairytale, his colleagues in the MSM were riffing over the screwball comedy. Like this guy named Robert Walters, who threw out one-liners like this:

Libyan rumors seen as comedy

Hey, has anybody here seen a five-man Libyan hit squad?

Then again, it could be a six- or seven-man assassination team. Or perhaps two hit squads of five men each. We think they’re trying to sneak into this country through Canada–or maybe Mexico.

Did we say Libyans?…

Yeah, well, you hadda be there I guess.


Thirty years later, it’s clear who’s doing the laughing, and who’s been the butt of this joke.

UPDATE: Commenter “DocAmazing” reminded me of another bit of recovered history: the 1982 punk single “Libyan Hit Squad” by Tongue Avulsion:


Would you like to know more? Read the War Nerd’s writings on Libya: “The Berb-Burb Alliance.”

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

Click the cover & buy the book!


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Add your own

  • 1. Urda  |  October 26th, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    I am not going out on a limb much here but at the end of the day the good Colonel was killed by his own people who didn’t give a shit what’d he done outside of Libya.

    Personally the Iranian-Zeta bs will amount to nothing,it might be just a response designed to calm the Persian expatriates in America after Iran locked up that actress in that touchy movie “My Tehran for sale.”.

    As for Colonel Gaddafi,yeah he died in an unpleasant fashion but most people running that kind of a gig end going down.

    And it was France who started bombing Libya and as I recall they were neither too please with the first attempt by Reagan,including the fact their embassy got bombed.

    No other country will back the United States,not even the UK whose British-Persian company trashed the Gulf,if the US goes seriously after Iran.

    Otherwise and I hate to keep this short,this is a spot on article by a great author.Plenty of souls laid to rest by the grace of Uncle Sam.

  • 2. Trevor  |  October 27th, 2011 at 7:29 am

    So the Obama administration is mining the Reagan administration for scare stories? Jesus, every day I’m happier I voted for Cynthia McKinney, not that it changed anything.

  • 3. Nestor  |  October 27th, 2011 at 10:08 am

    At least we got a mcguffin for Marty McFly to go to 1950 out of all this.

  • 4. DeeboCools  |  October 27th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I would’ve supported Q-daffy sponsered terrorists assassinating Ronald Reagan. In fact, I wish Qdoba was still alive to impose a no-fly zone over Oakland.

  • 5. Renfield  |  October 27th, 2011 at 4:03 pm

  • 6. wengler  |  October 27th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    The funniest part about that Reagan assassination article is that ol’ Muammer was right about Sadat.

    He outlived Anwar by a mere 30 years.

  • 7. iCONOCLAST  |  October 27th, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    “Jack Anderson turned around and demanded to know who was the asshole who spread that rumor? Actually no, I take that back–Anderson went one joke further and actually sneered at anyone dumb enough to fall for it, as if he knew it was a joke all along, which is why everyone should listen to Jack Anderson if they don’t want to get duped (by Jack Anderson)”

    This is simultaneously hilarious and sad. Mostly hilarious.

  • 8. zog  |  October 27th, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    There’s allready a lot of disinfo out on the standard of living, perks,HDI and so forth that Lybian citizens enjoyed under Brother Leader’s rule. Who can we trust to give us an accurate picture of state of the Lybian people before and after the ragime change?

    I for one will miss Kaddafi. He kept fighting till the end instead of running like a cowardly dog. But don’t forget his last mistake was trusting in the better nature of man.

  • 9. mijj  |  October 28th, 2011 at 10:56 am

    the deed has been done.

    Libya has been successfully turned into a perpetual shitstorm of factions vying for power.

    I guess all we can do is “tut tut” at those silly foreign people who don’t know how to run an country. We’ll just guard our oil and make sure those democracy hating chinese don’t return.

  • 10. maus  |  October 28th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    “I am not going out on a limb much here but at the end of the day the good Colonel was killed by his own people who didn’t give a shit what’d he done outside of Libya.”

    Are you functionally retarded?

  • 11. DocAmazing  |  October 28th, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Pick up a copy of the Maximum RockNRoll Not So Quiet On the Western Front compliation (1982)(available on CD) and enjoy Tongue Avulsion performing “Libyan Hit Squad”:

    “We’re the Libyan Hit Squad
    Moe Khaddafffi is our boss
    We’re here to kill Ronnie Reagan
    It’s nobody’s loss…”

  • 12. GeeTotes  |  October 28th, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    So that’s where this scene from Back to the Future came from!

  • 13. Nestor  |  October 28th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Eh. The US military can’t take a leak without spending a trillion dollars.

  • 14. helplesscase  |  October 28th, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Man, it must’ve been nice when people made fun of Pressing National Security Issues in the Post.

  • 15. Ro  |  October 29th, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I just don’t even get this new situation with the Saudi/Mexican/Mullet at all. I knew the minute it came out the Iranians couldn’t have really done it, for many reasons. One, they already have professionals who do this kind of stuff, and they don’t sell used cars and wear mullets. Two, they wouldn’t need Mexicans to do it, and the Mexicans really don’t have anything in it for them, they stand to lose a lot of profit by moving into diplomat assassination territory here in the states.

    The part about it that was really confusing, was the idea that the Govt would have set it up. I mean, is our Govt really stupid enough to try to pull something this cheesy? They could have done a lot better with no extra effort, really. It’s almost as if it was cheesy on purpose. But this article really puts it in perspective now. They do these cheesy things so that when they get caught, nobody takes it seriously because nobody believes them. But then it comes back to the question of why. Why even attempt it if it is not likely to be successful at the operational level, or at the propaganda level?

  • 16. monkeynigger  |  October 30th, 2011 at 7:02 am

    I think the US assassinating the head of a foreign state a week later, that’s not terror, no way Jose.

  • 17. darthfader  |  October 31st, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Holy shit, would I like to know more? NICE.

  • 18. why  |  November 7th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    why? i saw something the other day i thought i would never see. it was a sophisticated article in the nytimes or washington post which, among other things managed to make the iran plot look plausible and important, a bit more proof about how dangerous iran is becoming. definitely not fox news. pro propaganda. incredible!

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