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The Zanzibar Land Disturbance was a period of geopolitical tension that originated in the Central Asian state of Zanzibar Land toward the end of the 20th century. Zanzibar Land attempted to achieve military and economic superiority through the belligerent acquisition of nuclear weaponry and energy resources, but its ambitions were thwarted by famed mercenary Solid Snake in the NATO-U.S. Operation Intrude F014.

"Zanzibar Breeze"[]

By the 1990s, the Cold War had thawed, and it seemed nuclear proliferation would soon be a thing of the past. Despite this, all was not well in the world. A military junta came to power in Zanzibar Land, a small nation bordering Pakistan, the former Soviet Union, China and Afghanistan. After gaining its independence in the 1997 Mercenary War, Zanzibar Land began attacking nuclear weapons disposal sites around the world, seizing those weapons that were still intact, and becoming one of the world's few nuclear powers. It then began to invade its neighbors at will.

Meanwhile, a series of shocks to the oil market spurred the development of new high-tech energy sources, including fusion power. However, most vehicles still relied on oil for power. Oil reserves were at a critical low, and the world community was prepared to take drastic measures, either by drilling into sand and shale for more oil, despite the difficulty -- or moving on to renewable fuels. Such steps proved unnecessary when Czech scientist, Dr. Kio Marv, successfully bio-engineered a new species of algae, OILIX, that could produce petroleum-grade hydrocarbons with little expense and effort. In 1999, Marv was kidnapped by agents of Zanzibar Land while on his way to the International Energy Crisis Summit in the United States.

NATO discovered that Zanzibar Land's leaders planned to hold the world hostage by controlling the supply of oil, along with the threat of nuclear war.


Solid Snake (MG2)

Solid Snake.

Ex-FOXHOUND operative Solid Snake was brought out of retirement by the unit's new commander, Roy Campbell, and sent into Zanzibar Land to rescue Dr. Marv. On December 24, 1999[1], Snake penetrated the heavily fortified borders of Zanzibar Land via a nighttime HAHO (High Altitude-High Opening) jump from a C-130 Hercules aircraft, using a radar-stealth parachute. This was carried out on the Afghan border at an altitude of 35,000 feet, with ideal conditions provided by calm winds, a full moon and CAVU (cloud-ceiling and visibility unrestricted). In addition, the density of electronic-jamming Minovsky particles in the area was stable, allowing the use of radar equipment. In order to aid Snake’s insertion, a simultaneous diversion operation was conducted along the Chinese border.[1]

Making a successful jump, and avoiding frostbite on the way down, Snake then advanced on foot from the drop point to the base of the south-facing cliff wall. Free-climbing his way to the top, being careful to evade enemy sensors, he eventually reached the infiltration point at the front of the enemy fortress. Throughout the mission, Snake was to transmit messages to FOXHOUND via microwave satellites used by both Eastern and Western forces, of which command would be available around 24 hours real time, and would communicate via special frequencies. If Snake was captured during the mission, however, he wouldn't receive any assistance negotiations nor any rescue activity as the mission was never covered under the conditions of the Warsaw Treaty.[1]

"First Instruction"[]

Holly White

Holly White.

Infiltrating the first of Zanzibar Land's large building complexes, Snake was contacted via radio by Holly White, a CIA operative posing as a journalist, who promised to help in any way she could.

ZL Plan

Operation Intrude F014 Zanzibar Land schematic.

Snake traced Dr. Marv's location to the third floor of the Zanzibar Building, his radar leading him to the transmitter that had been implanted in the scientist's tooth. However, upon approaching the doctor, he was confronted by the Zanzibar mercenary Black Ninja, who had disguised himself as the scientist after the transmitter was discovered, and mocked FOXHOUND's outdated methods. Utilising reflex-enhancing armor and throwing stars, the Ninja attacked Snake, but was ultimately defeated in battle, due to the latter's greater combat experience.

The dying Black Ninja revealed to a shocked Snake that he was actually Kyle Schneider, the leader of the Resistance at Outer Heaven, who had helped Snake during his mission there four years earlier. He told Snake what happened after they had lost contact, revealing that NATO had commenced a bombing raid on Outer Heaven after the success of Operation Intrude N313, leading to the deaths of many war orphans, refugees, Resistance members and Outer Heaven personnel alike. Schneider had survived but was captured by a of NATO clean up crew and used as a guinea pig for NASA's Black Ninja project. He also hinted toward the identity of Zanzibar Land's leader, who had forgiven the surviving members of the Outer Heaven Resistance and saved them. After the Black Ninja unit disbanded, Schneider and other members had fled to Zanzibar Land to assist in the Mercenary War. Schneider's last words to Snake was a clue on how to find Marv's whereabouts: "Follow the man in the green beret!"

Dr Madnar

Dr. Madnar

Finding the man in the green beret in the Zanibar Building's tank hangar, Snake patiently followed him north into the Lost Woods before coming into a clearing, with a small building sitting in the middle. Snake entered the building to find it vacant, but could hear a series of knocking sounds on the eastern wall. Campbell informed Snake by radio that the knocking was an attempt to communicate via a tap code, formerly used by American POWs in the Vietnam War. After determining a radio frequency from the sequence of knocks, Snake contacted the unidentified person on his radio, discovering him to be Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar, the Metal Gear developer from Outer Heaven. Madnar claimed that he had been captured alongside Marv, and ordered once again to develop a bipedal nuclear tank, the revised Metal Gear D. Snake, shocked by this latest development, also learned that Zanzibar Land's leader was none other than Big Boss, the former leader of Outer Heaven. Madnar then advised Snake to locate Marv quickly, as his heart condition would make his dying from Zanzibar Land's interrogation a significant likelihood, and also supplied the radio frequency of his zoologist friend Johan Jacobsen. He also told Snake to leave him behind, as the prison's chobham walls could not be destroyed by explosives.

Snake then attempted to cross the Nariko Desert, when he was contacted by an anonymous caller identifying himself only as Snake's "number one fan," warning him about mines being placed in the vicinity. Upon evading the mines and soldiers on the singing sand-laced desert, Snake encountered a Hind D, which took off and engaged Snake. As he had absolutely no way to fend off the Hind, Snake was forced to retreat, and acted on advice from Holly to locate Stinger missiles in a small armory located in the swamp. He then crossed the shallow areas of the swamp, based on a tip from one of the children nearby regarding big trucks driving through the otherwise bottomless swamp. He then encountered the mercenary Running Man, who proceeded to not only demonstrate his speed to Snake, but also activate the armory's nerve gas, stating he'll only turn them off if Snake defeats him in battle. Snake eventually did so by placing mines at Running Man's feet, using his own speed against him. However, he was unable to find any Stinger missiles. A kid inside the armory, however, informed him that the Stinger missiles were moved over to the Zanzibar Building to be equipped onto the Zanzibar Land tanks. Snake then traveled back to the hangar area and found the Stinger missiles, returning to the Hind D's heliport and proceeded to shoot it down with it.

"Reprieve of the Doctor"[]

Dr Kio Marv

Dr. Marv

Natasha Markova

Gustava Heffner

Afterwards, Snake proceeded to the Tower Building of the fortress. As soon as he stepped inside, he was called by Holly who had been captured by the enemy. She asked Snake for help, but he didn't know her exact location. Working from her clues, Snake eventually found and rescued her. She told Snake that she had a clue to Marv's whereabouts: a carrier pigeon on the roof. Snake immediately headed to the roof, defeating Red Blaster on the way. Using his rations, Snake coerced the pigeon towards him. Finding a piece of paper attached to the pigeon's leg, it had the message "HELP! WIS. OhIO" printed on it. Looking at it, Snake, with some help from Campbell as well as his FOXHOUND drill sergeant, Master Miller, realized it was Marv's radio frequency upside down. Calling Marv on 140.51, Snake successfully managed to make contact with Marv. Unfortunately for Snake, Marv didn't speak English. Contacting Madnar, Snake was told to look for an STB agent named Gustava Heffner, who was acting as their bodyguard. Snake was also told that Gustava had managed to steal an enemy uniform and that she should be somewhere in the main Zanzibar Land building.

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Snake and Gustava met Dr. Madnar in his cell.

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Snake, Gustava and Dr. Madnar heading through the sewers.

Heading over there, and proceeding to the top floor, Snake waited for Gustava to enter the woman's bathroom, and snuck in, making contact with her. Snake immediately recognized her, realizing she was an ex-Olympic figure skater who won the gold medal at the Calgary Olympics. After making sure Marv was safe, and discovering that the prison was north of the tower building, they descended into the sewers. They eventually found an elevator which led them to Madnar's cell, and the three continued on to the bridge leading to the prison building. Along the way, Madnar asked for a quick bathroom break. Accepting his request, Snake and Gustava sat and awaited his return. As they waited, Gustava and Snake made some small talk. Gustava told Snake about her past, how she used to be engaged to a man named Frank Hunter, but when she attempted to defect to America she was refused asylum and sent away. Snake also admitted when asked if he was married that he never had a family. Since then, she joined the STB and had even killed a man. Snake attempted to comfort her, before Madnar returned. The trio carried on, eventually making their way out of the sewers.

"Under the Cloud of Darkness"[]

Gray Fox (MG2)

Gray Fox


Dr. Madnar (top), Solid Snake and a near-death Gustava (bottom).

Upon reaching the suspension bridge leading to the detention camp, Madnar easily made his way across. As Gustava started to cross, a missile blew up the suspension bridge, launching Gustava back onto Snake's side of the crevice. As armed guards took Madnar away, Metal Gear D appeared piloted by none other than Gray Fox. He demanded that Snake leave Zanzibar Land, or he would kill him. Tending to Gustava (who was far beyond saving), she thanked Snake for all his help, and gave him her brooch, which could change into a key at different temperatures. Snake was now more determined than ever to defeat both Gray Fox and Big Boss.

After fighting his way through the Four Horsemen, Jungle Evil and Night Fright, Snake eventually made it into Dr. Marv's cell. Unfortunately, Snake arrived too late, as he found Dr. Marv's corpse. Marv was unable to survive the repeated torture sessions, and Madnar, also within the cell, was unable to save him. Just before Snake could retrieve the OILIX formula left by Dr. Marv, Holly revealed via a radio message that Dr. Madnar was not captured by Zanzibar Land's forces, but was in Zanzibar Land voluntarily overseeing the development of the new Metal Gear. After the truth came out, Madnar admitted that he accidentally killed Marv and caused Gustava's death, then proceeded to attack Snake. However, he was not successful in killing him, and was easily defeated. However, he still needed to access the locker, so Snake had to traverse back to the Zanzibar Building by stowing away on one of the Zanzibar Land transport trucks. He eventually went over to the freezer and used the key to open up the locker. However, one more obstacle remained within the locker: a nest of venomous Zanzibar Hamsters. Snake, under the advice of Johan Jacobsen, used one of his B3 ration units as bait for the hamster nest to come out before disposing of them, leaving him clear to enter their nesting hole and retrieve the OILIX formula.

MG2 Gray Fox

Solid Snake vs. Gray Fox in a minefield.

399634-metal gear 2 super

Solid Snake confronts Metal Gear D.

With the OILIX formula now safely in Snake's hands, Snake made his way out of the cell, However, Dr. Madnar stopped him, and managed to tell him how to defeat Metal Gear D: the legs had weaker armor compared to the rest of the body, and were especially weak to grenades. Just then a trap door was activated with Snake landing in Zanzibar Land's lower basement area, where he was confronted by Gray Fox piloting Metal Gear D once again. After a fierce battle, Snake was successful in destroying Metal Gear. Unfortunately, the resulting explosion causes Snake's equipment to catch fire, and Gray Fox used the opportunity to recover the OILIX formula cartridge, telling Snake to "Burn in Hell!" Forced to remove all of his gear, he then went after Fox. Entering a door to his right, he then found himself in a minefield with Fox. Snake was contacted by military expert George Kasler who told Snake about Fox's real name, Frank Jaeger. Snake suddenly realized that the Frank Hunter whom Gustava had been engaged to was Gray Fox. The two suddenly engaged in hand-to-hand combat against each other, with Snake eventually emerging victorious. Fox told Snake about his past, about how Big Boss saved him several times, and how he needed war, and couldn't live without it. Fox "died", with Snake reassuring him that Gustava was waiting for him on the other side.

"Big Boss"[]

ZzZ (2)

Solid Snake vs. Big Boss.

After defeating Fox, Snake retrieved Marv's cartridge, where he was then taunted by a familiar voice. Snake followed the voice to its source and was confronted by the renowned mercenary leader himself, Big Boss. Snake declared that he had come to Zanzibar Land to get rid of the nightmares that he had endured since Outer Heaven, with Big Boss replying that they would never go away. Big Boss explained that once someone has experienced the taste of battle, they could never leave it, and that everything he had done was to give Snake a place for it. He then told Snake about his viewpoint on a logical system: "Start a war, fan its flames, and create victims... then save them, train them... and feed them back onto the battlefield." Big Boss continued on, stating that soldiers like them could never lead normal lives, that it was impossible. They only felt truly alive during battle and nothing else would ever satisfy their cravings. Solid Snake then decided to kill Big Boss to free himself from his grip as well as to put aside his nightmares. Big Boss had one final speech imparted from the words of his mentor he gave before their battle.

Big Boss (MG2)

Big Boss

"It doesn't matter who wins here. Our fight will continue. The loser will be liberated from the battlefield, and the winner will remain. And the survivor will live out the rest of his days as a soldier."
―Big Boss to Solid Snake

Having lost all of his equipment and with no weapons at his disposal, Snake was forced to improvise and made a makeshift flamethrower consisting of a cigarette lighter and lacquer spray. Taking Big Boss by surprise, Snake was able to defeat him, for the second and last time.


Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake

Solid Snake and Holly surrounded by enemy soldiers as they're waiting for Charlie's arrival.

Snake and Holly then proceeded to leave, but they first had to fight their way out to the extraction point. However, their getaway pilot Charlie, was running late, so they were forced to hold off an entire platoon of guards until they eventually ran out of ammo. They were cornered by several guards and it appeared that Snake and Holly were done for. However, at the last second, Charlie, piloting a Sikorsky HH-64 Dragoon, eliminated all the guards using the gunship's 7.62 mm machine guns. Snake and Holly then escaped together with Charlie, and delivered the OILIX formula to Campbell. After refusing Campbell's offer to return to FOXHOUND, citing that his nightmares are over, he also confirmed to Holly and Campbell that the MSX cartridge that he retrieved was indeed the one Marv hid the OILIX formula inside, citing that Marv signed his signature backwards on the bootup screen as the proof needed.

After the situation had been defused, Snake disappeared into the Alaskan wilderness, not to be heard from again for several years....


Big Boss and Gray Fox ultimately survived their encounter with Solid Snake, although it resulted in the Patriots subduing Big Boss' consciousness into the AI system to act as an idol, and Gray Fox being subjected to cybernetic experiments by Dr. Clark, which likewise was indirectly responsible for the Genome therapy experiments. Big Boss's body was also kept in cold storage, with his genes also resulting in the creation of the Next-Generation Special Forces. Naomi would eventually free Gray Fox with the help of Big Mama, and Gray Fox would eventually fight Snake again in his cyborg ninja form before giving his life to save him from Liquid Snake, the leader of the then-renegade FOXHOUND. Largely because of her learning of Snake's role in what happened to Big Boss and Gray Fox, it also resulted in Naomi Hunter desiring revenge against Solid Snake. She ultimately relented after hearing his side of the story, although not before illegally modifying FOXDIE to have a wildcard value to kill Snake in the future. Liquid Snake's hatred of his brother Solid Snake was further increased as a result of Snake's role in killing Big Boss, their "father", or rather, Snake doing so before Liquid himself had a chance to kill him in revenge for Big Boss's perceived role in making him an inferior clone, and also found himself forced to continue the legacy of Outer Heaven as a result.

Dr. Madnar ultimately survived his encounter with Snake, while Ellen Madnar not only got married, but eventually had three children by 2014. Madnar later proceeded to redeem himself somewhat by managing to heal up a cyberneticized Raiden after an operation to bust out Big Boss' biomort, and later saved his life again in 2014 when Sunny and Naomi Hunter, the adopted sister of the then-deceased Gray Fox, requested that Raiden get a blood dialysis machine, with him supplying it to them free of charge. He also became acquainted with one of Snake's friends, Hal Emmerich, aka, Otacon, during this time, and requested that he tell Snake for him that he's sorry about his betrayal earlier.

Behind the scenes[]

The date for Operation Intrude F014, and the details of Snake's intrusion were given in the original MSX2 game manual for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.[1]

The incident is referred to as the "Zanzibar Riot" in the Metal Gear Solid instruction manual, and the "Zanzibar Land Insurrection" in a Metal Gear Solid 4 promotional art book, given out at GameStop with pre-orders for the game.

In Metal Gear 2, there are several references to the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc and various related organizations being involved in the events surrounding the Zanzibar Land Disturbance. This is because the game was released in 1990, prior to the dissolution of the USSR and the decline of the Eastern Bloc. The Previous Operations section of Metal Gear Solid updates some of these details to fall more in line with what happened in real life. This includes references to the former Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Russia's interventions in the Mercenary War, instead of both Eastern and Western powers, and Gustava being an ex-STB agent rather than an active one. However, the re-released versions of Metal Gear 2 still references the existence of the USSR and Eastern Bloc due to the script not being updated.

In Metal Gear Solid, it is revealed that Big Boss was the father of Solid Snake, having claimed as much to Snake sometime prior to his defeat in Zanzibar Land. It has often been assumed that Big Boss made the claim during the Zanzibar Land Disturbance, due to Colonel Campbell's remark to Naomi Hunter that only he and Snake knew "the real truth of what happened there." However, the actual dialogue of their conversation only confirms that Snake knowingly "killed" his father at that time.[2] On a similar note, largely thanks to Metal Gear Solid retconning the events of the Third Zero, the Previous Operations summary for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake merely stated that Zanzibar Land possessed nuclear capabilities by the time OILIX was stolen without stating the nation's theft of disposed nukes.[3]

In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, it is revealed that the Big Boss defeated by Snake in the original Metal Gear was actually the former's body double, Venom Snake. Therefore, the Zanzibar Land Disturbance marks the first and only time that the real Big Boss and Solid Snake actually fought each other.

Timeline of events in Metal Gear
Date Event Game
1962 Sokolov Defection
Cuban Missile Crisis
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid Δ: Snake Eater
1964 Virtuous Mission
Operation Snake Eater
1970 San Hieronymo Incident* Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops*
1972 Les Enfants Terribles Project
1974 Peace Walker Incident Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Eliminate the Renegade Threat*
Intel Operative Rescue*
Classified Intel Acquisition*
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
19XX Déjà Vu**
XXXX Jamais Vu**
1975 Destroy the Anti-Air Emplacements*
Ground Zeroes Incident
Wormhole Incident** Metal Gear Survive**
1976 Attack on Zero Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
1977 Zero visits Snake
1984 Hospital Escape
Phantom Pain Incident
1995 Outer Heaven Uprising
(AKA "Operation Intrude N313")
Metal Gear
19XX Metal Gear (NES)**
19XX+3 Operation 747** Snake's Revenge**
1997 Mercenary War Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
1999 Zanzibar Land Disturbance
(AKA "Operation Intrude F014")
2002 Galuade Incident** Metal Gear: Ghost Babel**
2003 Assassination of Dr. Clark
2005 Shadow Moses Incident Metal Gear Solid (The Twin Snakes*)
2005-2007 Snake's VR Simulation* Metal Gear Solid Mobile*
2007 Tanker Incident Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
2008 Liquidation of Dead Cell
2009 Big Shell Incident
2011 Raid At Area 51
2012-2013 Raiden's Capture
2014 Guns of the Patriots Incident
(Liquid Sun · Solid Sun · Third Sun · Twin Suns · Old Sun · Naked Sin)
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
2016 Lobito Island Incident** Metal Gear Acid**
2018 World Marshal Incident*
(AKA "Raiden's Revengeance")
Raid at World Marshal · Ambush in Africa · Abkhazian Coup · Investigation in Guadalajara · Raid in Denver · Operation Tecumseh
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance*
2019 SaintLogic Incident** Metal Gear Acid 2**
* Dubious Canonicity
** Non-Canon


  1. ^ a b c d Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake - User's Manual. Translated version courtesy of G&T Soft.
  2. ^ Metal Gear Solid, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (1998).
    Solid Snake: Any family? // Naomi Hunter: That's not a very happy topic for me. // Snake: I don't have any family. No wait, there was a man who said he was my father... // Naomi: Where is he? // Snake: Dead. By my own hand. // Roy Campbell: Big Boss. // Naomi: What!? Big Boss!? I had no idea. // Campbell: There was no way you could. It happened in Zanzibar [Land] 6 years ago. Only Snake and I know the real truth of what happened there. // Naomi: So, is it true? Was Big Boss really your father? // Snake: That's what he said. That's all I know. // Naomi: And you were able to kill him, knowing that? // Snake: Yup.
  3. ^ 'Metal Gear Solid, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (1998).
    Special > Previous Operations >
    Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
    Just when the whole world's attention was drawn to OILIX and Dr. Marv, he was abducted by someone and disappeared. Nations began investigations immediately, and a name soon appeared... "Zanzibar Land." Zanzibar Land was a democratic military regime that suddenly appeared in Central Asia in 1997. [...] According to the latest information, Zanzibar supposedly was armed with nuclear weapons. The whole scenario was crystal clear. By obtaining OILIX in addition to nuclear weapons, Zanzibar Land was trying to establish its economic and military superiority over the entire world.


See also[]