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Kadafi Called ‘Most Dangerous’ IRA Backer

Times Staff Writer

Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi is the “most dangerous” supporter of the outlawed Irish Republican Army and a major supplier of its financing and weapons, Britain’s chief security official told a police audience here Thursday.

Home Secretary Douglas Hurd said Kadafi has actively supported such terrorists as Abu Nidal by allowing them to operate freely in Libya. Nidal, whose real name is Sabri Banna, is the Palestinian believed to be responsible, among other things, for the 1985 attacks on airports in Rome and Vienna that left 20 people dead.

Hurd spoke to police and security officials after he and his Italian counterpart, Interior Minister Antonio Gava, signed an agreement pledging closer cooperation in fighting terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

“Kadafi is without doubt the most dangerous of the Provisional Irish Republican Army supporters,” Hurd said. “We have proof that he has supplied them with tons of sophisticated weapons and large quantities of Semtex explosive.”

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Semtex is a Czech-made plastic explosive, a favorite weapon of terrorists because it is hard to detect. British investigators believe it may have been used in the bombing last month over Scotland of Pan American World Airways Flight 103, which killed all 259 people aboard as well as 11 people on the ground.

British officials believe that explosives and arms from Libya have reached terrorists in Ireland over the past two or three years. Terrorism claimed 93 lives in Northern Island last year, Hurd noted, most of them victims of the IRA.

He said Kadafi has “provided them with ample funds and as recently as September reiterated his political support for them, describing their cause as ‘just.’ ”

Hurd has been meeting with Italian officials to discuss an accord that would allow them to seize the assets of convicted drug traffickers. A similar agreement between Britain and the United States “has proved a potent weapon” against traffickers, Hurd said. It is not only a deterrent, he said, but also raises the threat of bankruptcy for traffickers.

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“The drug trafficker can no longer say to himself that even if he is caught, after release from prison he will be able to retire to a life of leisure,” Hurd said. “Now, unless he can show that his house, his car and his business has been bought with legitimate earnings, they will be able to be seized and sold.

“There must be no haven in any civilized country for the criminal or terrorist,” he added.


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