Thursday, Mar. 11, 2010

British Bank of the Middle East, 1976

On Jan. 20, 1976, a group associated with Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization exploited the chaos of the country's civil war and broke into the British Bank of the Middle East in Beirut. Instead of using cunning and skill, the robbers used brute force, blasting through a wall the bank shared with a Catholic church. Reportedly with the help of a bunch of Corsican locksmiths, the group then cracked the bank's vault and plundered its contents — anywhere from $20 million to $50 million worth of gold bars, Lebanese and foreign currency, stocks and jewels. Today the loot is valued to be more than three times what it was worth in 1976.