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- January 7 - The Khmer Rouge is removed from power in Cambodia by Vietnamese forces, ending the Cambodian Genocide. The Cambodian People's Party is subsequently installed as the ruling party and declares the formation of the People's Republic of Kampuchea.
- January 7 to February 11 - The Iranian Revolution: Ruhollah Khomeini overthrows Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, putting an end to 2,500 years of the Persian monarchy and turning Iran into a theocracy.
- January 17 - Anastasio Somoza Deybale is overthrown by the Sandinista National Liberation Front.
- January 29 - Brenda Spencer kills two people and injures nine in a sniper shooting at Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California.
- March 30 - Airey Neave, British Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is assassinated via car bomb in London by the Irish National Liberation Army.
- April 11 - Idi Amin Dada is overthrown as President of Uganda after Tanzanian military forces capture the capital of Kampala.
- April 22 - The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is formed.
- April 26 - Ahmad Abu Bakar of Pahang is elected Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.
- July 16 - Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr resigns as President of Iraq. Vice President Saddam Hussein assumes the presidency.
- July 22 - Saddam Hussein carries out a public purge of the Ba'ath Party, allegedly to expose traitors within the party. 68 Party members are executed for committing treason.
- July 24 - Ted Bundy is found guilty for three murders committed in Florida and is sentenced to death.
- July 29 - Train station and airport bombings in Madrid kill 7 and injure hundreds. The ETA claims responsibility.
- August 10 - The Supreme Council of Government junta of Ecuador is dissolved.
- September 20 - Jean-Bédel Bokassa is deposed as Emperor of Central Africa by French paratroopers. The Central African Republic is restored.
- September 21 - José Eduardo dos Santos is elected President of Angola.
- September 29 - Francisco Macías Nguema, President of Equatorial Guinea, is overthrown and executed by his nephew Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who declares himself president.
- October 8 - Nur Muhammad Taraki is assassinated on Hafizullah Amin's orders.
- October 15 - The Revolutionary Government Junta of El Salvador comes to power in El Salvador. Beginning of the Salvadoran Civil War.
- October 26 - Park Chung-hee, President of South Korea, is assassinated at the Blue House in Seoul by Kim Jae-gyu, head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency.
- November 3 - A shootout involving members of the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, and the U.S. Communist Workers' Party breaks out in Greensboro, North Carolina. Four members of the CWP and one other individual were killed, and eleven other demonstrators and a Klansman were wounded.
- November 4 - Beginning of the Iran hostage crisis.
- November 15 - The Unabomber attacks American Airlines Flight 444 after planting a bomb in the plane's cargo hold. Nobody is killed but 12 people are injured.
- November 20 - The Grand Mosque of Mecca is seized by a group of militant Islamists lead by Juhayman al-Otaybi in protest of the rule of the House of Saud. The militants hold the mosque against the Saudi Royal Army for 14 days before finally standing down after several of their leaders are killed.
- December 20 - The National Renewal Alliance is dissolved.
- December 21 - Robert Mugabe and Ian Smith sign the Lancaster House Agreement, ending the Rhodesian Bush War. Zimbabwe is formally granted independence from the United Kingdom.
- December 24 - The Soviet-Afghan War begins with the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.
- December 27 - Hafizullah Amin is assassinated by the KGB.
- January 1 - Saleh Ali al-Sammad
- January 26 - Natasha Cornett
- February 13 - Anders Behring Breivik
- April 5 - Nasim Najafi Aghdam
- May 9 - Aaron Alexis
- May 22 - Abdul Malik al-Houthi
- June 4 - Christopher Dorner
- June 20 - Scott Freeman
- July 22 - Eduardo Sencion
- August 16 - Brandy Stutzman
- September 11 - Nathan Gale
- November 21 - Saeed al-Ghamdi
- December 10 - Steve Stephens
- December 21 - Sharon Carr
- June 6 - Shanda Sharer
- November 1 - Charlie Keever
- November 8 - Jennifer Daugherty
- January 22 - Ali Hassan Salameh
- February 7 - Josef Mengele
- June 7 - Asa Carter
- July 12 - Carmine Galante
- August 11 - Antonina Makarova
- August 26 - Alvin Karpis
- September 29 - Francisco Macías Nguema
- October 8 - Nur Muhammad Taraki
- October 26 - Park Chung-hee
- December 27 - Hafizullah Amin
- March 30 - Airey Neave
- September 1 - Cary Ann Medlin
- July 29 - Dorothea Fertig