One of the most important holdups in the world took place in Beirut on January 20, 1976 when a group decided to rob the local branch of the British Bank of the Middle East located on rue des Banques, near the Place de l’Etoile , seat of Parliament and not far from the Grand Seraglio, Headquarters of the Prime Minister’s offices, in the Bab Idriss district and now HSBC Bank Middle East. We were then in the midst of civil war and the street of the banks had been spared until then despite the events.
A controversy still concerns the people at the origin of this breakage, some seeing the hand of the Mossad, others of the British SAS because of documents considered compromising which could be in the coffers of the establishment or even a group. , faction 17, linked to the Palestine Liberation Organization and therefore to Yasser Arafat.
The establishment was, however, functional despite the events that began just 9 months ago, with fighting between Christian and Palestinian militias. The Green Line was already taking hold of people’s minds for a long time, but when it came to money, it had been a sacred thing until then.
The robbers – 8 in number, each carrying an M16 type submachine gun – from 5 floors then fired one of the walls of the establishment, with a 40 or 60 mm mortar, causing a large hole in its facade. . It was then a question of opening the coffers of the bank.
Then with the help, it is said, locksmiths of Corsican origin would have taken for 20 to 50 million dollars in the form of gold bars mainly but also of foreign currency and even of jewelry, that is today more than 100 millions of dollars in terms of discounted value. Some even believe that this value would be even more important.
The operation will last 4 hours without anyone trying to put an end to it, which is nevertheless striking given the scale of the loot.
The loot will never be found, perhaps sold on the local market as for many goods stolen at that time or even sold to Switzerland according to others, another tax haven, which has remained quite in peace.
Until now, the identity of the robbers as well as the exact amount of the loot or even its destination remain a mystery …