- " Marty didn't understand but he did know that, to date, few Libyans he had heard of had been involved had been involved in anything but dark and dangerous business. The effect was of someone yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Marty believed and acknowledged that there was trouble without further investigation. Hurling his body to one side, he looked for the nearest solid object that would provide cover. The only two choices were the step-van and the DeLorean. / Doc Brown was already heading for the step-van. / "Run for it, Marty!" he shouted. "I'll draw their fire!" / Simultaneously, he hustled into the truck and appeared a moment later with a revolver. By this time, the side door of the black van had slid open and a swarthy character resembling Yasser Arafat leaned out. He threw up an AK-47 submachine gun and opened fire. "
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 63)
- Terrorist #1: "Damn Soviet gun!"
- Terrorist #2: "Damn!"
- — The Libyans' barely intelligible curses, when both their rifle and van wouldn't work, allowing Marty to escape.
The Libyans — or Libyan terrorists, also known as Libyan nationalists — were a group of terrorists that were trying to develop a nuclear weapon and asked for the assistance of Dr. Emmett Brown to build it. However, Doc took the plutonium to power his DeLorean time machine and built a mock weapon out of an empty bomb casing filled with used pinball machine parts.
- Doc: "Oh my God. They found me. I don't know how, but they found me. RUN FOR IT, MARTY!!"
- Marty: "Who? Who?!"
- Doc: "Who do you think?! THE LIBYANS!!!"
- — Doc horrified upon realizing that he had been located.
It was unknown when the fraud was discovered. Possibly they could have attempted to engage in their planned terrorist activity, only for the plan to fail and they realize they had been duped. It was evident, that whether or not the terrorist plans came to fruition, the pair realized they had a fake bomb on their hands and were motivated to murder the scientist out of anger for being defrauded. Although Emmet Brown likely volunteered as little personal information as possible, the Libyans tracked Doc to Hill Valley and found him in the parking lot of Twin Pines Mall on the morning of October 26, 1985. Two Libyans drove there in a Volkswagen Station Wagon and found him with Marty McFly. A terrorist shot and killed Doc with an assault rifle, and then attempted to eliminate the lone witness, Marty. When the rifle jammed, and after Marty jumped into the DeLorean, the Libyans chased Marty around the parking lot.
When the gunman broke out a rocket-propelled grenade to try to destroy the car and kill Marty at once, Marty reached 88 miles per hour; with the time circuits activated and the plutonium chamber full, the flux capacitor activated and the DeLorean experienced temporal displacement. The ensuing flash of light disoriented the terrorists and the driver lost control, causing the van to smash into a Fox Photo stand, flipping the van upside-down. Before Marty went back to the future, he wrote a warning letter for Doc, who wore a bulletproof vest that night he was shot and survived the attack. Although not seen in the movie, the novelization (although the number of terrorists differs from the movie) explains that after the crash, a squadron of police cars raced into the parking lot and surrounded the overturned van. The police had likely received a 9-1-1 call from an unknown individual in the area who heard the gunshots. The officers arrested the battered terrorists just as Doc and Marty left in the DeLorean.
Behind the scenes
- In George Gipe's novelization, there are six Libyans as opposed to just the two seen on-screen: the leader, a "swarthy man who was known only as Sam" (quote, page 61); four other unnamed men; and a young woman named Uranda, who is described as "a twenty-five-year-old ex-fashion model from Damascus who got her kicks by pumping bullets into other people's bodies" (quote, page 62).
- Although most transcripts and reviews of the film assume that the terrorists were speaking Arabic, writer Bob Gale revealed that he actually wrote English speaking parts for them in the filming script.
- Richard L. Duran, who played the gunman, and Jeff O'Haco, the van driver, are both professional stuntmen as well as actors. In addition to the high speed chase (which also involved a stunt driver for the DeLorean), the two stuntmen had to carefully handle the crash and rollover of the van.
- When the television is turned on in the opening scene of the first movie, an anchorwoman reports that a nuclear power plant in California was audited, which showed a loss of plutonium in the plant's inventory, then states a Libyan terrorist organization claimed responsibility for nuclear fuel theft. The plutonium case is then seen underneath the TV.
- The inclusion of the Libyans had generated controversy around the film's release. As Libya (then under the rule of Muammar Gaddafi) was known for being a premier state sponsor of terrorism worldwide.
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future novelization
- Back to the Future: The Story
- Back to the Future: The Card Game (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future: The Game
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 4: Double Visions (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future (IDW Publishing)
- LEGO Dimensions (Mentioned only)(Non-canonical appearance)
- Feature Commentary with Bob Gale and Neil Canton