Template:Infobox military unit Unit 777 (Arabic: الوحدة 777 قتال), also known as Task Force 777, is an Egyptian military counter-terrorism and special operations unit created in 1977 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.
Cyprus[edit | edit source]
In 1978, Egyptian Army Special Forces were dispatched to 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 resulted in the creation of Task Force 777.
Malta[edit | edit source]
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.
Current status[edit | edit source]
After the outcomes of their first two major operations, Task Force 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.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- The Encyclopedia of the World's Special Forces by Ryan, Mann and Stillwell (2003) ISBN 0-7607-3939-0
Notes[edit | edit source]
- 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.
- Ryan, p.23