April 2003

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff


  • Hijackers Strike in Cuba (April 1): Suspect, Adermis Wilson Gonzalez, commandeers plane bound for Havana and demands that it land in Key West, Fla. He's arrested by U.S. authorities. (April 4): Armed men who hijacked a government-run ferry on April 2 surrender to Cuban authorities. (April 11): Cuba executes three hijackers of the ferry. Four others are given life sentences. International condemnation follows.
  • Bomb Explodes in Southern Philippines (April 2): Sixteen people die near a ferry terminal in Davao. Second such attack in a month. Officials blame the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a Muslim separatist group.
  • U.S. Commandos Rescue Army Soldier (April 2): Special operations forces rescue Pfc. Jessica Lynch from a hospital in Nasiriya. She was one of the 12 members of the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company captured by Iraqi troops on March 23.
  • U.S. Troops Seize Airport in Iraq (April 4): In symbolic gesture, Saddam International Airport renamed Baghdad International Airport.
  • Iraqi TV Broadcasts Tape of Hussein (April 4): Saddam Hussein shown mingling in the streets of Baghdad. U.S. officials not certain if the film is authentic.
  • U.S. Forces Enter Baghdad (April 5): Tanks and other vehicles roll into the Iraqi capital and engage in firefights with Iraqi troops.
  • Cuba Cracks Down on Dissidents (April 7): Courts mete stiff sentences to advocates of democratic reform. Nearly 80 people, including journalists and librarians, face terms of up to 27 years in prison.
  • British Forces Take Control of Basra (April 7): Declare that Iraq's second-largest city has fallen.
  • Three Journalists Killed in Iraq (April 8): U.S. tanks, reportedly responding to sniper fire, strike Palestine Hotel, where many reporters were based. Also fire on the building that served as the Iraq bureau for the Al Jazeera network.
  • Baghdad Falls (April 9): U.S. forces take control of the city, but sporadic fighting continues throughout the capital. Looters pillage government buildings, museums, hospitals, and stores. Statue of Saddam Hussein symbolically toppled. National Museum of Iraq plundered of its most prized treasures.
  • Islamic Cleric Killed in Iraq (April 10): Sheik Abdel Majid al-Khoei, a prominent Shiite backed by the U.S., murdered in Najaf mosque a week after he returned from exile.
  • Kirkuk Falls to Kurds (April 11): U.S. to assume control of the northern city, rich in oil, to allay Turkish fears that Kurdish independence movement will spread to within its borders.
  • POWs Found Alive (April 13): Marines discover five soldiers who were captured by Iraqi troops on March 23 in Nasiriya.
  • Bush Accuses Syria of Helping Iraqis (April 13): President suspects that top Iraqi officials escaped to Syria. Also claims “there are chemical weapons in Syria.”
  • Pentagon Says Fighting Mostly Complete (April 14): After the fall of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, officials declare the end of the brutal regime.
  • Separatists Lose in Quebec Elections (April 14): Liberals dominate in provincial elections, topping the Parti Québécois 45.9% to 33.2%.
  • South Africa Agrees to Pay Families of Apartheid Victims (April 15): Government to give the families of more than 19,000 victims each $3,900. Reparations to total $85 million.
  • U.S. Forces Capture Terrorist Group Leader (April 15): Troops in Baghdad apprehend Abu Abbas, a leader of the Palestine Liberation Front, the group that seized the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985.
  • Bush Calls for End to Sanctions (April 16): With Saddam Hussein out of power, president urges UN to lift sanctions on Iraq, saying oil money will help pay for reconstruction of battered country.
  • European Union Expands (April 16): Leaders of ten nations meet at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and sign treaties to join the European Union.
  • China Admits Underreporting SARS Cases (April 20): Government reports number of victims much higher than originally stated.
  • U.S. Civil Administrator Arrives in Baghdad (April 21): Retired lieutenant general Jay Garner takes charge of reconstruction and humanitarian aid in post-war Iraq.
  • Iraq's Shiites March to Karbala (April 21): Ritual pilgrimage to tomb of Hussein, grandson of Muhammad, long banned under Saddam Hussein. Shiites also call for creation of an Islamic state.
  • Nigerian President Reelected (April 22): Election commission declares that incumbent Olusegun Obasanjo prevailed over opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari.
  • Arafat Endorses Cabinet (April 23): Last-minute compromise with Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas paves the way for the U.S. to introduce a new peace plan.
  • North Korea Reports It Has a Nuclear Bomb (April 24): Declaration comes during talks with U.S. and Chinese officials. First time the country has admitted that it actually possesses a nuclear bomb.
  • Iraqi Official Surrenders (April 24): Tariq Aziz, deputy prime minister of Iraq, turns himself in to the U.S.
  • IRA Promises to Disarm (April 27): Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, announces Irish Republican Army will dismantle arsenal and ban paramilitary activity as long as other groups meet their commitments to the Good Friday peace agreement.
  • U.S. Signs Cease-fire with Iranian Terror Group (April 28): U.S. confirms pact with People's Mujahedeen, organization active in both Iran and Iraq.
  • Iraqis Gather to Plan Future (April 28): U.S. administrators and about 300 Iraqi leaders agree to hold a national conference to elect transitional government.
  • Palestinian Parliament Approves Cabinet (April 29): Swears in the cabinet of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. At the 11th hour, Yasir Arafat reluctantly endorses government.
  • U.S. to Move Troops from Saudi Arabia (April 29): Announces plans to withdraw combat troops by the summer.
  • Peace Plan Proposed for Middle East (April 30): U.S. presents Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas a “road map” for peace in the Middle East. The plan calls on both sides to make concessions and end the violence, and envisions the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.


  • Bush Orders Quarantine of SARS Patients (April 4): Signs an executive order that adds severe acute respiratory syndrome to the list of diseases that merit quarantine.
  • FBI Agent and Informant Arrested (April 9): Retired agent James Smith charged with gross negligence. His informer, Katrina Leung, who was also his lover, allegedly passed on classified documents she received from Smith to China. She is charged with using a classified document to aid a foreign nation.
  • Congress Approves Amber Alert Bill (April 10): Both houses vote to create national system to promptly alert public of kidnappings.
  • Congress Passes Budget Plan (April 11): Vice President Dick Cheney casts tie-breaking Senate vote to approve $2.2 trillion budget resolution that limits President Bush's tax cut to $350 billion. Earlier in the day, House also approved a resolution, with $550 billion tax cut.
  • Congress Approves War Funding Bill (April 12): Passes $79 billion legislation to pay for war in Iraq.
  • Bush Scales Back Tax Cut Plan (April 15): Lowers goal to $550 billion from $726 billion, and signals confidence Congress will pass a generous package.
  • Army Secretary Resigns (April 24): Thomas White steps down after two years in the Pentagon. He was widely criticized for having served as a vice president of Enron prior to joining the Defense Department.


  • Colossal Squid Found (April 4): In the Antarctic waters off New Zealand, fishermen catch young female Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, weighing 330 pounds and measuring 16 feet. Only second such squid to be caught.
  • SARS Genome Decoded (April 12): Scientists at the British Columbia Cancer Agency determine that a “completely new” coronavirus causes the illness. Milestone an important step in developing a test and vaccine for disease. (April 14): Centers for Disease Control also maps the genome of SARS and confirms a new coronavirus as its cause.
  • Bush Renominates Greenspan (April 22): Appoints chairman of the Federal Reserve Board to a fifth term. Current term expires in June 2004.
  • American Airlines Chairman Resigns (April 24): Donald Carty steps down after being criticized for his handling of negotiations with airline unions, in which workers took pay cuts while executives were rewarded.
  • Judge Rules in Favor of Online Services (April 25): In a stunning blow to music and movie industries, federal judge says Grokster and StreamCast Networks, services that allow users to swap movies and music over the Internet, do not violate copyright laws.
  • Wall Street Investment Firms Settle with U.S. (April 28): Ten companies and two analysts agree to pay $1.4 billion fine for releasing dubious research reports to investors. Also commit to new guidelines.
  • Virginia Acts Against Spam (April 30): Passes law to end the sending or receiving of unsolicited commercial email to or from the state.

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