CIA officer killed by a terrorist bomb in Nicosia, Cyprus in a case of mistaken identity (June 16, 1956)

On this day in 1956, a CIA officer posing as a US diplomat was killed by a terrorist bomb in a cafe in Nicosia, Cyprus in a case of mistaken identity.

If you are going to chuck a bomb at someone you probably think you have a good reason for doing so.

NICOSIA, CYPRUS — The US is both loved and hated. The world’s #1 military and economic power since the end of WWII has been responsible for amazing feats of reconstruction (e.g. the Marshall Plan in Europe) as well as some really dumb decisions (Vietnam, Iraq….).

We here in Canada would describe our relationship as follows: “We can’t live with them and we can’t live without them”. The US is so important to our economy and we rely on them for continental defence (we seriously underspend on defence because we assume the Americans will save our kiesters if the situation gets bad).

But they also drive us crazy, and not only since the election of Donald Trump. We are not big on US jingoism and the notion that they are the ‘greatest’ at everything. No, we shy, deferential, aw shucks Canucks are not like our neighbours, are we?

Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau

In a lot of countries the dislike for the US takes a dangerous turn. US diplomats, business people, journalists and others have been targeted for violence and death. This is well beyond the odd demonstration, flag burning or shouts of ‘Death to America’.

William Pierce Boteler

On this day the hatred did lead to deaths and injuries. An American diplomat, William Pierce Boteler (who was actually with the CIA), was killed by a bomb tossed into a cafe in Nicosia, Cyprus. Five other diplomats were injured.

Three weeks later, a letter arrived at the American Consulate. It was titled “Tragic Mistake” and was signed by the local terrorist group’s leader. The letter explained that the bombs were meant for British officials, not Americans. Mr. Boteler was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The intended target may have been the Brits, as they are hated almost as much as the Yanks, and they were in charge of Cyprus at the time. Still, this was a terrorist act even if the ‘wrong’ man died.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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