The Lebanon hostage crisis refers to the systematic kidnapping in Lebanon of 96 foreign hostages of 21 national originsâ€”mostly American and western European â€” between 1982 and 1992. At least eight hostages died in captivity; some were murdered, while others died from lack of adequate medical attention to illnesses.
Those taking responsibility for the kidnapping used different names, but the testimony of former hostages indicates almost all the "groups" were actually one group of "a dozen men" coming from various clans within the Hezbollah organization, "most notably the Mughniyya and Hamadi clans". Particularly important in the organization was "master terrorist" Imad Mughniyah. Hezbollah has publicly denied involvement. The Islamic Republic of Iranâ€”and, to a lesser extent, Syriaâ€”played a major role in the kidnappings, if in fact it was not the instigator of them.
The original reason for the hostage-taking seems to have been "as insurance against retaliation by the U.S., Syria, or any other force" against Hezbollah, which is thought responsible for the killing of 241 Americans and 58 Frenchmen in the Marine barracks and embassy bombings in Beirut. Other reasons for the kidnappings or the prolonged holding of hostages are thought to be "primarily based on Iranian foreign policy calculations and interests" particularly the extraction of "political, military and financial concessions from the Western world", the hostage takers being strong allies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.