Avianca Flight 203
Avianca Airlines Flight 203 was a Colombian domestic passenger flight from El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá to Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport in Cali. It was destroyed by a bomb over the municipality of Soacha on November 27, 1989.
The aircraft took off from the Colombian capital Bogotá en route to Cali. It was in the air for five minutes and flying at a speed of 794 kilometres per hour (493 mph) when an explosive charge detonated on board, igniting fuel vapors in an empty fuel tank.
The aircraft was a Boeing 727-21 with registration number HK-1803; it was purchased from Pan Am. The plane took off as scheduled at 7:11 a.m. After 5 minutes into the flight a bomb placed near the fuel tank exploded at 13,000 feet. The blast ripped the airliner apart: the nose section separated from the tail section, which went down in flames. All 107 people on board were killed, as well as three people on the ground who were killed by falling debris. According to the investigations the bomb was placed by a man wearing a suit who was able to bring the bomb inside the plane in a suitcase.
The bombing of Flight 203 was the deadliest single criminal attack in the many decades of Colombian violence. Pablo Escobar of the Medellín drug cartel planned the bombing, hoping it would kill presidential candidate for the 1990 elections César Gaviria Trujillo. Gaviria, however, was not on the plane, and would go on to become President of Colombia. Two Americans were among the dead, and because of this, the Bush Administration would begin Intelligence Support Activity operations to find Escobar.
Dandeny Muñoz Mosquera, the chief assassin for the Medellín Cartel, was convicted in a United States District Court for the bombing and was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences.
The United States Army Intelligence Support Activity (USAISA), frequently shortened to Intelligence Support Activity or ISA, and nicknamed The Activity is a United States Army Special Operations unit originally subordinated to the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). It is tasked to collect actionable intelligence in advance of missions by other US special operations forces, especially 1st SFOD-D and DEVGRU in counter-terrorist operations.
USAISA was the official name of the unit from 1981 to 1989; previously it was known as the Field Operations Group (FOG), created in September 1980. In 1989, the then USAISA commander sent a telex "terminating" the USAISA term and his Special Access Program GRANTOR SHADOW, but the unit continued under a series of different codenames which are changed every two years; known codenames include CENTRA SPIKE, TORN VICTOR, CEMETERY WIND, and GRAY FOX.