The Egyptian Unit 777
|Allegiance||Military of Egypt|
|Active||1978 – present|
|Role|| Special operations|
|Battles|| EgyptAir Flight 648|
Larnaca International Airport Raid
Unit 777 (Arabic: الوحدة 777 قتال), also known as Task Force 777, is an Egyptian military counter-terrorism and special operations unit created in 1978 by the government of Anwar Sadat in response to concerns of increased terrorist activity following the expulsion of Soviet military advisors from the country by Sadat and his efforts to achieve peace with Israel.
In 1978, Egyptian Army Special Forces were dispatched to Larnaca International Airport, Larnaca, Cyprus in response to the hijacking of a Cyprus Air passenger aircraft by operatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The operation was organized hastily, and Egyptian authorities failed to notify Cyprus of the arrival of the unit. As the Egyptian commandos approached the plane on the tarmac, they were mistaken by the Cyprus security forces as terrorist reinforcements. Cypriot security forces opened fire on the approaching Egyptian SF members, who were without nearby cover. The firefight cost the lives of 15 members of the 79 members of the Egyptian commando force sent, however there were no reported Cypriot fatalities. The aftermath of the failed incident and the need of a professional counter-terrorism unit in Egypt resulted in the creation of Unit 777.
In 1985, Task Force 777 was dispatched again to deal with a hijacking, this time to Malta. An Egypt Air Boeing 737 (EgyptAir Flight 648) had landed in Luqa Airport under the control of Abu Nidal faction terrorists, purportedly as retaliation for Egypt's failure to protect the terrorists that had hijacked the MS Achille Lauro earlier that year. Several hostages were released, and at least one Israeli woman was executed. Although the operation was planned more carefully this time, the TF 777 operators committed several mistakes that would eventually prove fatal to many of the hostages. As explosives were detonated to attempt to blow a hole on the top of the airframe, the explosion ripped through the cabin area, immediately killing 20 passengers. Using the same hole, the operators gained entry to the plane but in the confusion opened fire indiscriminately and killed and injured more passengers. In the ensuing chaos, passengers that managed to flee the plane were then gunned down by snipers in positions around the airport who mistook them for terrorists attempting to escape. The total number of passengers killed was 57, out of 88 total.
|Footage of Op-Global Sky|
On June 3, 1998 and In response to escaping of the ship Global Sky from the Suez port without paying the $600,000 due to a foreign company as the captain raised Panama's flag for deception, The Suez Canal Authority asked the Egyptian Armed Forces to interfere. The Egyptian Armed forces decided to send Unit 777 along with navy forces to deal with the ship within the international waters. Unit 777 used a commando to descend on the main deck, they captured the whole crew, no damages occurred.
After the outcomes of their first two major operations, Unit 777 was temporarily disbanded, and formed again later to deal with internal threats. The unit is currently located in southern Cairo and is equipped with Mi-8 helicopters. The unit actively trains with a number of Western special operations groups, including the United States Army's Delta Force, United States Navy's SEALs, and the French GIGN.
- Hatem Saber
- EgyptAir Flight 648
- Egyptian raid on Larnaca International Airport
- Egyptian Sinai war on terror
- The Encyclopedia of the World's Special Forces by Ryan, Mann and Stillwell (2003) ISBN 0-7607-3939-0
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ryan, p.22
- ↑ "BBC On This Day 1985: Commandoes storm hijacked plane". BBC News. 1985-11-24. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/24/newsid_4356000/4356024.stm. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- ↑ "Maltese account of the hijacking". http://www.buettni-malta.com/pageID_1867881.html. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- ↑ Some sources claim that the terrorists hurled grenades, causing many of the deaths.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Ryan, p.23
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