John Gordon Mein United States Ambassador to Guatemala (1965–68)
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.