644: Umar ibn al-Khattab, Islam’s second caliph after Abu Bakr and one of the four Rashidun, or righteously guided caliphs, is assassinated by Pirouz Nahavandi, a Persian soldier. Under Umar’s 10-year rule, Islam had conquered Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia.
1982: A fire in the 1.7-mile tunnel on the Salang Pass in Afghanistan kills, by various accounts, either 2,000 Afghan civilians and 700 Soviet troops or (according to the Societ news agency Tass at the time), 500 to 800 Afghans and up to 400 Soviet troops. One eyewitness account puts the date of the accident on Oct. 30. Tass denied that the disaster was caused by a fuel truck intentionally smashing into the head truck of a Soviet convoy. (Suicide attacks were unknown in Afghanistan at the time.) The collision between truck and fuel tanker, however, is believed to have taken place, though it was unintentional. Soviet troops reportedly looted hundreds of corpses following the disaster.
1986: The Lebanese weekly Ash-Shiraa reveals that Reagan administration officials had visited Tehran in secret deals to exchange weapons for American hostages held in Lebanon by Iranian-backed militants. The report breaks what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, a constitutional crisis that threatened the Reagan administration.
- What Was the Iran-Contra Scandal?
- Reagan Rogues’ Gallery: Prosecutions, Convictions and Pardons of the Iran-Contra Affair
- Final Report of the Independent Counsel for the Iran-Contra Affair
1996: Abdullah Çatlı, leader of the Turkish ultra-nationalist organisation known as Grey Wolves, is killed in a car crash. His death uncovers the Turkish fgovernment’s ties with organized crime and leads to the resignation of Turkish Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar.
2007: Pervez Musharraf, the politically weakening dictator and president of Pakistan, declares martial law for the second time in his nearly-10-ywear reign, suspending the Constitution and firing the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Musharraf’s actions accelerate his downfall in early 2008 and the brief return of Benazir Bhutto before her assassination.
- Profile: Pervez Musharraf
- Profile: Benazir Bhutto
- Pakistan’s Mr. 10 Percent, Asif Ali Zardari, Wins the Presidency
- Pakistan After Musharraf
- Profile: Asif Ali Zardari
- Pakistan and Bush: Business As Usual
- Pakistan: Country Profile
2008: Edward Sheehan, an American author and foreign correspondent who'd written extensively from the Middle East (and notably about Libya's Muammar el Qaddafi) dies. "In 1976," his obituary in The New York Times noted, "he caused a furor when, in an article for Foreign Policy, he quoted conversations among Richard M. Nixon, Henry A. Kissinger and Middle Eastern leaders in 1974 in which Nixon said he favored the return of all Egyptian territory and “substantial restitution” of land on the Golan Heights and on the West Bank seized by Israel in the 1967 war." Sheehan was born in 1930.