In 2010, on this day a U.S. passenger airliner lands in Vietnam, at Hanoi's International Airport. It is the first such landing since the fall of Saigon in 1975 ended in the Vietnam War.Hanoi Horror by Eric Lipps
Before any passengers can disembark, however, a powerful bomb explodes, igniting the aircraft's engines and incinerating the plane in an explosion whose resultant fireball is visible for miles. It will latter be determined by forensic examiners that the bomb had employed military-grade explosive, giving rise to a variety of conspiracy theories spanning the political spectrum. Those theories are not quashed by the immediate attempt by Al Qaeda to take responsibility for the attack, because several other terrorist groups, including Islamic Jihad and Indonesia's Tamil Tigers, will also boast of being behind it.
Only in 2018 will it be learned that a previously unknown radical South Vietnamese group had planned and carried out the bombing with the intent of derailing normalization of U.S.-Vietnamese relations. The group, it will be learned, had the aid of revanchist U.S. military personnel, who provided the explosives and some technical assistance but who were told the target would be a Chinese plane rather than an American one and that the objective was to destabilize the Hanoi regime by provoking a military confrontation with Beijing.
The duplicitous scheme works, prompting President John McCain to sever all ties with Hanoi, setting relations between the U.S. and Vietnam back essentially to where they had been at war's end. Even after the true identity of the bombers is revealed, it will be years before another American passenger plane lands in Vietnam.