U.S. Details Libya’s Involvement in Terrorism

Times Staff Writer

In an attempt to maintain international pressure on the regime of Col. Moammar Kadafi and expand concern over its new chemical weapons plant, the United States on Wednesday issued its most detailed account to date of Libyan involvement in international terrorism.

The State Department statement accused the Kadafi regime of being “implacably committed to ending U.S. and other Western influence in the Third World . . . and to destroying the state of Israel.”

“Despite a public posture of moderation” recently, the report by the Counterterrorism Office said, “Libya has employed threats, terrorism and military aggression” on five continents.

The State Department accused Kadafi of propounding a deliberately two-faced policy. “To recoup lost influence, Libya has undertaken a concerted diplomatic campaign to improve relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization, with its Arab neighbors and with key African states.” At the same time, it has preserved “its traditional contacts with dissident, subversive and terrorist groups in such countries.”


A State Department official said that the release of the position paper “is not related to the Pan Am bombing or the shootdown of the MIGs or the Libyan chemical warfare plant.”

But other U.S. sources said the timing indicates that the Reagan Administration wants to ensure that foreign action on Libya’s plant, which the Administration says is to produce chemical weapons, does not dilute the attention paid to Kadafi’s other activities.

The report cites Libyan involvement in four assassination plots against Arab and African presidents in Egypt, Sudan, Zaire and Chad, all of whom are close allies of the United States.

In Europe, the position paper charges, Libya has sought to improve its image and to expand its influence “by using the promise of economic and commercial benefit--principally in the petroleum sector--as political leverage.”

However, the report said, Kadafi has continued to aid groups such as the Provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army. A shipment of surface-to-air missiles bound for the Irish nationalist group was uncovered by French authorities just over a year ago.

The renegade Palestinian group led by Abu Nidal, who is based in Libya, also has resumed terrorist acts in Europe and elsewhere.

In the Pacific and Asia, Kadafi has sought to expand his influence at the expense of the West “by sponsoring radical individuals and groups whose activities exacerbate local problems,” the report said. Tripoli has provided funding and training to groups in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and New Caledonia, the statement said.

In Latin America, the counterterrorism document traces Libyan support to insurgents and terrorists as far back as 1973. “Several Latin groups Libya supports are prime suspects in recent strikes against U.S. targets,” the report charged.

The position paper also suggested that Libya “may have been involved in possible acts of subversion” in the United States over the last 14 months.

The strongest case involved five members of the El Rukns street gang in Chicago who were convicted in late 1987 of planning terrorist activities. U.S. prosecutors charged that the gang expected to receive $2.5 million from Libya for assassination attempts on American politicians and for attacks on U.S. aircraft and government facilities.