An alleged member of a Japanese terrorist group was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday in connection with the 1988 bombing of a USO club in Naples, Italy, that killed a Navy woman and four Italian civilians and wounded 18 other people, including four Navy men.
Junzo Okudaira had been a suspect in the bombing since its investigation began, officials said. Although authorities do not know where he is, the grand jury returned the indictment against him because the statute of limitations expires next week.
Okudaira, who, according to the indictment, also uses the name Willy Liao, was last spotted a few years ago in the Middle East, a Justice Department source said.
Authorities have said that they believe the bombing was intended to retaliate for U.S. bombing raids two years earlier on the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi. Those raids were conducted to punish Libya for an earlier terrorist bombing of a West Berlin discotheque.
In the wake of the World Trade Center bombing, J. Ramsey Johnson, the new U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said that the indictment demonstrates the United States' "unrelenting resolve to bring to justice those who commit acts of terrorism against U.S. citizens no matter where they may occur."
Shortly after the USO car bombing, U.S. authorities cited possible links between that incident and the arrest two days earlier of Yu Kikumura, who was apprehended on the New Jersey Turnpike carrying three powerful homemade pipe bombs in his car.
Kikumura, also an alleged Japanese Red Army member, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 1989 by a federal judge who branded him "an international terrorist" and said that he planned to "kill and injure scores of innocent people" with the explosives.
Federal prosecutors contended in court papers that Kikumura had been planning to bomb a Navy recruiting office in New York City on April 14--the same day that the USO club in Italy was attacked.
U.S. officials said it is typical of the Red Army to strike in different locations simultaneously.
At his sentencing, Kikumura denounced the United States for "illegal and immoral acts of state terrorism" against Libya but denied any link to that nation.
The Japanese Red Army, formed in 1969 as an ultraleftist offshoot of the Japanese Communist Party, has been linked to numerous terrorist incidents since 1972.
In the USO bombing, an explosive device was detonated in a Ford Fiesta automobile parked across the street from the club.
Okudaira was charged in the 10-count indictment with murder, attempted murder, engaging in physical violence that seriously injured U.S. nationals and using a destructive device in committing a crime of violence.
If apprehended and convicted of all counts, he faces a maximum term of life imprisonment. He already is under life sentence for his conviction in absentia by Italian authorities.
The grand jury also charged that Okudaira acted with "others unknown" to the panel.
In announcing the indictment, Johnson commended the efforts of the Italian National Police, the Naval Investigative Service and the FBI.