Bin Laden Mission: Six Other Notable Raids; Three That Worked And Three That Didn't

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You don't want Chuck Bronson coming after you.
There are uncountable things that could have gone wrong in the raid that ended up with Osama Bin Laden dead; operations like this usually have the odds against them.

The Bin Laden raid will join the ranks of historic missions, some famous because they worked, some famous because they didn't.

Here are three of each.

3. The Cabanatuan Raid

As World War II was winding down, a Japanese POW camp with more than 500 prisoners, in the Philippines, became a cause of prime concern.

The prisoners had been members of the Bataan Death March, and the common belief was that the Japanese would kill them as American forces approached rather than let them live to testify to the world about the brutality they endured.

The camp, though, was 30 miles behind enemy lines. A select force of about 100 U.S. Army Rangers, aided by local scouts and guerrillas, managed to hike undetected to the camp and, in a nighttime raid, killed hundreds of Japanese guards, rescued nearly all the prisoners and escorted them back through enemy lines with pursuit hot on their tail.

2. Los Banos Raid
Similar to Cabanatuan -- a Japanese POW camp in the heart of the Philippines at the end of the war -- it was made even more difficult because it came a month after that one, and the Japanese were on their guard.

Still, Army Airborne troops -- using paratroopers, amphibious tanks and local guerrillas -- succeeded in a complex operation that rescued more than 2,100 prisoners.

1. Entebbe
While America was celebrating the bicentennial on July 4, 1976, the Israeli Defense Force was kicking Palestinian ass as they saved passengers and crew of a plane that had been hijacked and was sitting at a Ugandan airport.

The IDF flew commandos thousands of miles and, in a nighttime raid, saved all but four of the 260 hostages. All the hijackers were killed, as were a number of Ugandan ground forces; the raiders also blew up a bunch of Ugandan MiG-17s for good measure.

Not so successful
3. Moscow Theater Hostages

In 2002 armed Chechens took over a crowded Moscow theater and began issuing political demands in return for their 850 hostages.

On the third day of the crisis, Russian Spetsnaz forces offered authorities a solution. A pretty disastrous solution.

They pumped a dangerous chemical into the theater -- no one yet has owned up to what it was -- and indeed killed almost all the hostage-takers. They also killed at least 129 hostages, and likely more. Again, transparency on these things is not a big Russian priority and, indeed, Russian officials declared the raid a success and snuffed out attempts to investigate it.

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For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.

Mel Sharkskin
Mel Sharkskin

The chemical used in the Russian raid on the theater was a gaseous form of the incredibly potent narcotic painkiller Fentanyl (known on the street as China White, and a notable junkie exterminator). Unfortunately, since the theater hostages comprised every body type from children to old people, none of whom had a tolerance to the drug, those who wound up dead simply OD'd on the powerful narcotic. Some got high, most just went to sleep as per the plan.

Also, deserving of mention is the almost forgotten, but James Bond-daring Son Tay raid in 1970 on a prison camp in North Vietnam. The enormously complicated rescue attempt, supported by all kinds of attack aircraft and state-of-the-art spook equipment, went off without the tiniest hitch.

Except that when the raiders deliberately crash-landed the lead helicopter right in the courtyard, they immediately found the place empty. All the prisoners had been moved to the Hanoi Hilton a few days earlier. So the thing wouldn't be a complete bust, the raiders set about massacering a barracks full of NVA soldiers who had the misfortune of living next door. Well, it WAS a war, after all.

The raid was led by the legendary Col. Arthur "Bull" Simons, who later was hired to (successfully) rescue three of Ross Perot's employees from Iran after they were taken hostage during the Iranian revolution. Desert One's organizers should have called Simons out of retirement.


Oh man I remember watching the Entebbe movie "Operation Thunderball" in Hebrew School. The best part was definitely the guy who was playing the president of Uganda, who would yell "Welcome to Uganda!" whenever he met a new character.


Um....shouldn't the title be "Bin Laden Mission: SIX Other Notable Raids; Three That Worked And Three That Didn't"


All six of those are rescue attempts, not raids. Not quite the same as what happened in Pakistan.

Hair Balls
Hair Balls

Yes....math skills lacking. Or at least headline-changing skills.

Thanks, I fixed

Hair Balls
Hair Balls

Close enough for government work, IMO....military/military-style violent operations with a definitive goal in a specific location.

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