Anniversary of America’s First Military Defeat of Islam Passes Quietly By

April 27th marks the anniversary of a great American military victory, yet most citizens in this nation are simply unaware of the date, and the implications of the event.

Image   On April 27, 1805, First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, a United States Marine Officer assigned to the USS Argus and under the command of General William Eaton, led Marines into Battle against the Muslim forces in Tripoli at Derne.  This was the first war the United States fought after the revolution and the first time the America flag was planted on foreign soil in combat.  And we won.

O’Bannon is a legend in the Marine Corps, but this war – and it was a declared “War” by the U.S. – was the result of years of the U.S. paying more and more tribute to the Islamic nations (“Barbary States”) to ensure the safe passage of U.S. ships and their crews.  It is the reason “Letters of Mark” are mentioned in our Constitution.

Here is the official account by the U.S. Marine Corps Historical Division:

For many years the United States had maintained peace with the Barbary States (Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli) by “buying” treaties and paying tribute to the reigning pasha. Although Algiers, Morocco and Tunis were not entirely satisfied, they were more or less complacent, whereas Tripoli continued to make threats against the United States while demanding larger and more frequent “payments.” Finally, on 14 May 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli, Yusut Karamanli, indicated his extreme dissatisfaction with our “tribute” by having the flagstaff cut down in front of the U.S. Consulate. This act led to a declaration of war against Tripoli and the sending of more U.S. war vessels to the Mediterranean. During a storm one of the ships, the USS Philadelphia, went on the rocks off Tripoli and her crew was captured and imprisoned at Derne. After a bombardment of Tripoli by U.S. vessels and the offer of $100,000 ransom for the crew of the Philadelphia had failed to move the Pasha, William Eaton, “Navy Agent for the several Barbary Regencies,” suggested forming an alliance with Hamet, elder brother of the reigning sovereign of Tripoli. The plan was approved by the U.S. Government and Eaton commenced putting his plan into execution.

On 29 November 1804, Eaton, First Lieutenant O’Bannon, Midshipmen George Mann, U.S. Navy, and seven Marines landed at Alexandria, Egypt, from the USS Argus, and a few days later proceeded to Cairo. The party arrived at Cairo on 8 January 1805, where they learned that Hamet and a few Tripolitans had joined a band of rebellious Mamelukes who were defying the rule of the Turkish viceroy. Eaton then pushed on to Fiaum where he communicated with Hamet and made arrangements with him for his cooperation with the expedition against Derne, Tripoli. On 8 April, Eaton and his motley army of about 500 men, 100 camels and a few mules started the long march across the Libyan desert. He arrived at Derne the night of 25 April, and the next day, under a flag of truce, offered terms of amity to the Governor of Derne on condition of allegiance and fidelity to Hamet. The reply to this offer was “My head or yours.” Shortly thereafter, the USS Nautilus arrived in the harbor of Derne, and the next day the USS Argus and Hornet dropped anchor nearby. When the combined land-sea attack commenced on 27 April, Lieutenant O’Bannon, with his Marines, a few Greeks, and as many of the cannoniers as could be spared from the field piece, passed through a shower of enemy musketry, took possession of one of the enemy’s batteries, planted the United States flag upon its ramparts and turned the guns upon the enemy. After two hours of hand-to-hand fighting, the stronghold was occupied and for the first time in history the flag of the United States flew over a fortress of the old world.”

Today, let us remember the victory of America’s first military victory as a nation after the Revolutionary War.  Since the Muslims get to celebrate the first Islamic military victory of Muslim forces over non-Muslim forces at the White House – Eid al Fitr – it seems relevant for us to simply acknowledge that our first foe in combat as a nation was an Islamic nation.                  

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About John Guandolo

John Guandolo is the President and Founder of Guandolo Associates LLC, an organization dedicated to providing strategic and operational threat-focused consultation, education, and training for federal, state and local leadership and agencies. Mr. Guandolo is a 1989 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and took a commission as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served with 2d Battalion 2d Marines as an Infantry Platoon Commander in combat Operations Desert Shield/Storm. From 1991-1996, he served in 2d Force Reconnaissance Company as a Platoon Commander, Assistant Operations Officer, and the unit’s Airborne and Diving Officer. During this time, he also deployed to the Adriatic/Bosnia. He served for one year as the Unit Leader for the CINC’s In-Extremis Force, directly reporting to a Combatant Commander in a classified mission profile. Mr. Guandolo was a combat diver, a military freefall parachutist, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School. In 1996, Mr. Guandolo resigned his commission in the Marine Corps and joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), serving at the Washington Field Office. From 1996-2000, he primarily conducted narcotics investigations domestically and overseas. In 2001, he served for one year as the FBI Liaison to the U.S. Capitol Police investigating threats on the President, Vice-President, Members of Congress and other high-level government officials. Shortly after 9/11, Mr. Guandolo began an assignment to the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI’s Washington Field Office developing an expertise in the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Doctrine, the global Islamic Movement, and a myriad of terrorist organizations to include Hamas, Al Qaeda, and others. In 2006, Mr. Guandolo created and implemented the FBI’s first Counterterrorism Training/Education Program focusing on the Muslim Brotherhood and their subversive movement in the United States, Islamic Doctrine, and the global Islamic Movement. He was designated a “Subject Matter Expert” by FBI Headquarters. This course was hailed as “groundbreaking” by the FBI’s Executive Assistant Director in a brief to the Vice President’s National Security Staff. For his efforts, in 2007 Mr. Guandolo was presented the “Defender of the Homeland” Award by U.S. Senators John Kyl and Joseph Lieberman on behalf of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. While in the FBI, Mr. Guandolo received two (2) United States Attorney’s Awards for Investigative Excellence. Mr. Guandolo served on the Washington Field Office SWAT team for over nine years and as its Team Leader for three of those years. He was a certified Undercover Agent, and served in a variety of assignments in that capacity. Mr. Guandolo was a Nationally Registered Paramedic, a First Aid Instructor, and served as an “Advanced Capability Medic” with the FBI. His career has included significant overseas travel to include many areas of Africa, Southwest Asia, Europe and elsewhere. In his last year and a half in the FBI, Mr. Guandolo served on a Surveillance Unit. Mr. Guandolo advises governments – U.S. and others - on matters related to National Security, specifically the threat from the Global Islamic Movement. He actively advises members of Congress, law enforcement, the intelligence community, military, National Guard, key community leaders, and others. He served as an adjunct instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College and the U.S. Army War College, and is one of the authors of the “Shariah – The Threat to America,” the first comprehensive book on the threat from the Islamic Movement in the U.S. He has appeared on television and radio, and regularly publishes articles related to these matters in a number of media outlets.
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