Society - History
By: - at June 10, 2015

Top 15 Most Horrifying Terrorist Attacks

It’s most unfortunate, but as humans, we are always involved with some kind of conflict. Today we see terrorist attacks occur regularly all over the world, but for some reason, we stay fixed on just the few that have been covered time and time again in the media. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of terrorist attacks that have occurred in modern times that many people are simply not aware of, and we have created a list of the 15 most significant and terrifying terrorists attacks that have occurred in the 20th and 21st century.

World Trade Center After Second Plane's Impact
september 11
By TheMachineStops via Wikimedia Commons

15)  Grand Brighton Hotel Bombing
The Grand Brighton Hotel Bombing was the terrorist attack designed to kill the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Margaret Thatcher. The attack took place on the 12th October in 1984 when a conservative Party conference was being held at the venue. The IRA, the Irish Republican Army, which was involved in conflict with the British over a matter of independence, planted the bomb in the hotel.

Grand Brighton Hotel During Restoration in 1988
Grand Brighton Hotel
By Stuart.Jamieson via Wikimedia Commons

Thatcher and her husband managed to avoid any injury from the time bomb, however five people were killed. Two high profile Conservative Party politicians were killed in the bombing and a further 31 people were injured. The next day, the IRA took full responsibility for the bombing and that they would try again. They released a statement explaining that Mrs Thatcher and Britain would ‘have to be lucky always’, suggesting that there will be regular attacks like this in the future. Thatcher and her cabinet, however, ignored such threats and continued serving the British people.

Following Attack
Brighton Hotel
By D4444n via Wikimedia Commons

14)  Beirut Barracks Bombing
In 1983, during the Lebanese Civil War, the Beirut Barracks Bombings occurred in a US Marine Corps barracks at Beirut Airport. The bombing occurred when two truck bombs struck two different buildings in the airport. Nearly 300 people, French and American, were killed by the terrorist attack.

Beirut Barracks
Beirut Barracks
By James Case via Wikimedia Commons

The attack was planned and performed by a group that called itself Islamic Jihad, and each of the trucks were detonated by suicide bombers. With 220 marines dead, along with three soldiers and 18 sailors, this incident was the worst day for deaths since the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Today, the attack is commemorated annually by news networks and war veterans, and striking images and videos are still available showing a smoke cloud appearing over the rubble created by the blast.

Vice-President George H.W. Bush Two Days After Attack
Beirut Barracks

The bombing resulted in the international peacekeeping force withdrawing away from Lebanon, an area that they ad been stationed in ever since the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) had withdrawn. The attack paved way for a series of other conflicts and controversies involving Israel, Palestine and the United States.

13)  Dubrovka Theater Siege
The Dubrovka Theater Siege took place in Moscow, Russia in 2002. The siege was performed by between 40 and 50 armed attackers who were working for the Islamist Militant Separatist Movement. These armed terrorists took more than 850 people hostage and demanded that the Russian forces were removed from Chechnya, and that the Second Chechen War was brought to an end.

Dubrovka Theater

The whole siege was led by well known terrorist Movsar Barayev, and despite being so many hostages, the Russian forces managed to kill every single one of the attackers. A chemical agent, which today remains unknown, was pumped into the ventilation systems of the building. Unfortunately 130 hostages died as a result of unexpected reactions to the gas, but everybody else taken hostage survived.

Hostages Evacuated By Bus
Dubrovka Theater

The pumping of gas through the ventilation system was criticized, but Russian forces and government officials insisted that there was no other choice if they were not to meet the demands of the armed revels that were more than prepared to kill everybody within the building.

12)  Piazza Fontana Bombing
The Piazza Fontana Bombing was a 1969 terrorist attack that occurred at the National Agrarian Bank in Piazza Fontana. The attack was roughly 200 meters away from Duomo, and it results in the deaths of 17 people. A further 88 people were wounded and in the same day, three more bombs were set off in Milan and Rome. A final bomb was found that had not detonated and was disposed of by the authorities.

Initially, the attack was blamed on anarchists. More than 80 arrests were made, consisting mostly of anarchists like Giuseppe Pinelli. Pinelli was an anarchist born in the late 1920s who soon killed himself by falling from a window on the fourth floor of the building in which he was being held by authorities.

Piazza Fontana

The real plot behind the bombing was never uncovered, but documents that were officially released in the year 2000 suggested that the Pinelli suicide was a result of his being a part of the plot. The Red Brigades had come to this conclusion by performing their own inquiries into the terrorist attack.

There are numerous theories behind the attack, but there is still no conclusive evidence to prove exactly why it happened and who it was performed by.

11)  Menarsha Synagogue Attack
The Menarsha Synagogue Attack is a pretty old attack, but still not one to be ignored. This attack took place in 1949 in the Jewish quarter of Damascus. The attack was performed using grenades and resulted in 12 Syrian Jews being killed.

The terrorist attack occurred as a result of unrest in Palestine and increasing hostility to Jewish nationalism and Zionism. The tension within Syria created real anti-Semitism, which combined with political instability, became a perfect storm for a terrorist attack to occur.

Ruins of the Central Synagogue of Aleppo, Syria

The Syrian government even began treating Jews poorly when the State of Israel was established, which means this attack was terrible, but certainly came as no surprise. It occurred on a Friday night, and a number of regular hand grenades were simply thrown into the Synagogue. As well as the aforementioned deaths, a further 30 people were killed. The attack was synchronized with another attack at the Great Synagogue in Aleppo.

Four days later, a 17 year old confessed that he, along with two accomplices, was behind the attack, but two years later the three were acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

10)  Ma’alot Massacre
The Ma’a lot Massacre was an incident that took place in Israel in May 1974. The attack lasted two days, whereby 115 people were taken hostages, and 25 of those died by the end of the attack. The siege started when three members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, all armed, traveled from Lebanon to Israel.

Victims at Zefat Cemetery
Ma’alot Massacre
By Yossi Zur via Wikimedia Commons

Upon their entry to Israel, the three terrorists killed two Israeli Arabs, attacked a van and entered into an apartment block in Ma’alot. It was here that the three armed men killed a couple and their young son. Afterwards, they moved on to the Netic Meir school, where their final hostages were taken. 105 of the 115 they took hostage were children.

Ma’alot Massacre

The demands of the three men were that 23 Palestinian militants being held in Israeli prisons were released, and if they were not, they would kill all of the students in the school. It was during the second day of the siege that the building was stormed by a unit from the Golani Brigade. The terrorists killed 22 children using automatic weapons, as well as three adults. On top of this, 68 children and adults were injured before the Israeli forces were able to stabilize the situation.

9)  Manhattan Attacks of the FALN Group
Often forgotten about, the Manhattan attacks of January 24th, 1975 resulted in a number of deaths and terror in Lower Manhattan. Frances Tavern, which was a historic restaurant found on Pearl Street, was targeted by a number of Puerto Rican terrorists. The building was well known for being where George Washington said his final farewell to all of his officers in the year 1783.

At roughly 1:30 in the afternoon, an explosion occurred in the building that sent shockwaves right up to the 60th floor of the building. The bomb resulted in total hysteria and havoc, and 15 minutes later, the press received a phone call from the mastermind behind the plot. It was claimed that the attack was performed by a group known as FALN, which was the Armed Forces for the Puerto Rican National Liberation. These were a bunch of militant political activists that were attempting to liberate Puerto Rican from American control.


Police found a note in a phone booth nearby, from FALN, that explained they took total responsibility for the bomb. The note also explained that the bomb was detonated as retaliation to the bomb that killed three people in a restaurant in Puerto Rico, which was allegedly ordered by the American CIA.

8)  Oklahoma Truck Bombing
In 1995, the city of Oklahoma was traumatized by a large truck bombing. This domestic attack was made against the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building found in the downtown city. Until the events of the September 11th, 2001, this would be the most destructive and large scale terrorist attack in the United States.

Murrah Federal Building Before Attack
oklahoma city bombing
By Tom via Wikimedia Commons

The detonation results in nearly 170 people being killed, and 680 being severely inured. There were more than 320 buildings that were damaged and destroyed within a radius of 16 blocks, due to immense shock waves sent straight across the city. 86 cars were either burned or destroyed as a result, and 258 buildings in the surrounding area experienced shattering windows due to the explosion.

oklahoma city bombing

The people behind the attack, Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, performed the attack as retaliation to the way in which the Waco Siege was dealt with by the US government. Initially, McVeigh had intended to destroy just a federal building, but he later changed his mind, deciding that it would be best to kill as many as people as possible with the bomb.

7)  Amerithrax Attacks
These attacks, also known as the 2001 Anthrax Attacks, occurred soon after the events of 9/11 in the United States. These attacks occurred over a number of weeks starting in late September, 2001. A number of letters that contained spores from anthrax were posted to US senators, news media offices and other government officials, and results in the deaths of five people. The letters infected a further 17 people.

Letter to Tom Brokaw

It was later explained by the FBI that the investigation into who sent the letters soon become one of the most complex investigations in the history of law enforcement in the United States.

Second Note

What made the letters particularly interesting was that in some of them, both the letters ‘a’ and ‘t’ were highlighted, which suggested that there was some kind of hidden code behind the letter. An FBI report from 2010 explained that they had two possible explanations for the hidden message, but that they could not provide a conclusive statement regarding it.

6)  1993 World Trade Center Bombing
When you mention the attacks on the World Trade Center, people will usually assume that you are referring to the attacks of 9/11. In fact, the attacks in 2001 were not the only time that the World Trade Center was targeted, as the first attack was performed in 1993.

1993 World Trade Center Bombing

A bomb exploded underneath the North Tower of the center, and was designed to known the North Tower into the South Tower, which would have brought both of the towers down and killed everybody inside. However, the bomb did not create these conditions and instead killed six people. More than a thousand people were injured, but the towers remained, for the most part, intact.

World Trade Center Bombing

The attack was, like the 9/11 attacks, performed by radical Islamists. Funding was obtained from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and the attack was performed by Mahmud Abouhalima, Ramzi Yousef, Nidal Ayyad, Mohammed Salameh, Ahmad Ajaj and Abdul Yasin.

The seven victims of the attack included Wilfredo Mercado, John DIGIovanni, Stephen Knapp, Bill Macko, Robert Kirkpatrick, Monica Smith and the unborn child of Monica Smith.

5)  Wall Street Bombing
The Wall Street Bombing was an attack on Wall Street, New York City, in 1920. A historic attack that injured 143 people and killed 38, it was never solved but there are numerous theories behind the attack. It is thought by investigators that it was carried out by a group of Italian anarchists called the Galleanists.

Wall Street Bombing

This same group were responsible for a number of bombings the year before, and the attack was almost certainly a result of the anti-capitalist feelings that were arising in the United States during this era.

The bomb was detonated from a horse-drawn wagon that was passing through the crowds in the street. After passing J.P. Morgan bank, a bomb made of 100 pounds of dynamist and 500 pounds of iron weights exploded on a timer. Both the horse and the wagon were torn apart into tiny fragments, but it is thought that the driver had left the vehicle and made an escape.

wall street bombing

Investigations were stalled when not a single one of the victims appeared to be the river of the vehicle, and investigators ere unable to find the stable from which the horse had come from. The only person that was traced was the blacksmith that had made the horseshoes, but he was unable to offer any information about the people who had used the horse.

The investigation went on for three years, with cooperation between police and the Bureau of Investigation, to no avail. There were a number of arrests made, but nobody was convicted of the attack due to the real lack of evidence. The investigation was primarily focused on communists as well as anarchists, and the primary theory behind the attack is that it was revenge for the arrest of Vanzetti and Sacco, two well-known anarchists.

4)  Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai Attacks
In 2008, some of the most terrifying attacks took place in Mumbai. The event is commonly known as 26/11, and it involved twelve separate bombing and shooting attacks that were coordinated across Mumbai. There was only one attacker that was captured alive, Ajmal Kasab. Kasab confessed that the bombings, shootings and sieges were performed with a view of supporting the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan. The country has regularly used terrorist groups to achieve some of its foreign policy agendas, meaning that this was terrifying but not surprising for officials in India.

Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai

Eight of the 12 attacks took place in South Mumbai, in hospitals, cafes and towers. The rest took place in community centers, cinemas and colleges. The only known attacker, Ajmal Kasab, explained that the attackers were a part of a terrorist organization called Lashkar-e-Taiba. This group is known as a terrorist organization by the United States, Pakistan, India, the United Kingdom and the United Nations.

Week after Attack
Taj Mahal Hotel
By Stuti Sakhalkar via Wikimedia Commons

It was later confirmed in 2009 that a part of the attack had been planned in Pakistan, and Kasab was sentenced to death in 2010.

3)  London Stock Exchange Bomb
The London Stock Exchange is found in the City of London and was founded in 1801. The historic building is an essential part of the UK economy, and in 1990, the IRA (Irish Republican Army) targeted the building with a view to pushing their political agenda.

London Stock Exchange Bomb

The event took place on the 20th July, when a bomb planted in the men’s bathroom near the visitors’ gallery was detonated. Nobody was injured during the attack as people had already been evacuated, but the bomb still caused significant damage to the building.

London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
By Kaihsu Tai via Wikimedia Commons

Strangely enough, the reason that nobody had been killed was because of a secret phone call from somebody claiming to be a member of the IRA. During the phone call, the man explained to Reuters that there was a bomb planted in the toilets and that it would soon explode. It has been explained by police investigators that if this phone call had not been placed then the death toll would have been large.

The explosion from the bomb created a hold in the building, right through its 23 floors. Glass was shattered along the street, with other buildings also suffering damage.

2)  7/7 London
The 7/7 bombings in London took place in 2005, and were a large-scale terrorist attack that took the lives of 52 people. These bombings included a series of suicide attacks across the city that targeted the public transport systems during the rush hour in the morning. Home-grown terrorists from the United Kingdom began by detonating three bombs on the underground train network, known as the Tube. These three bombs were detonated at roughly the same time, and soon after, a fourth bomb was detonated on a double decker bus.

7/7 London

As well as the aforementioned deaths, more than 700 people were injured in the first Islamic suicide attacks in the UK.

The bombs were made of organic peroxide and were hidden in rucksacks. Today, security checks and police presence has been increased significantly on the underground tube networks, and further camera and security systems have been implemented to ensure that something like this cannot happen again.

7/7 London

Two of the bombers who were responsible for the attacks in London had made their own videotape confessions, and they were broadcast by Al Jazeera on the 1st September. In the first video statement made by Mohammed Khan, it was explained that the detonations were made to aid the brothers and sisters of ‘the cause’, referring of course to the Islamist course.

The second videotape was broadcast again by Al Jazeera, but this time in 2006. This videotape was the confession of Al Qaeda member Shehzad Tanweer.

1)  9/11
Finally, 9/11, the attacks that occurred on September 11th 2001, are among the most well known and large terrorist attacks to occur in the whole world. This attack included four separate terrorist attacks that were designed and implemented by the terrorist group Al Qaeda. The attacks took place in both Washington DC and New York City.

september 11 attacks
By UpstateNYer via Wikimedia Commons

The suicide attacks were caused by the hijacking of four passenger airplanes. Two planes were flown directly into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center, destroying both towers and completing a goal that was not obtained in 1993 by Islamist terrorists. The two towers collapsed over a two-hour period, resulting in thousands of deaths.

The third plane was crashed into the headquarters of the US Defense Department, known as the Pentagon. Then, there was a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania that didn’t hit its ultimate target, due to passengers of the plane disrupting the plans of the hijackers.

The result of these attacks included 2,996 people dying, and a total shift in the way the United States defended itself. The collapse of the two towers not only killed people and damaged the physical surroundings of Lower Manhattan, but it also had an adverse effect on the economy of the area.

Despite the devastation, the towers have been rebuilt, and opened in early 2014.

These 15 tales of terrorism throughout the world are just a few of the examples of what happens when there are political disagreements in the world. Throughout human history, attacks like this have occurred when one side of a controversial disagreement feels that there is no other way to get a message across to the people that are either most influential, or in control.

Attacks involving mass killings have occurred for thousands of years, but as technology has advanced, terrorists have become more creative. It is unfortunate that this happens, but with a modern Western world trying to bring peace to the East, it is not unlikely that things like this will happen again. Hopefully, however, new technologies and security checks and systems should allow us to avoid anything too significant, or anything that involves the deaths of thousands of people.





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