It was 6:25 on the night of December 21st when the Pan American jetliner left London’s Heathrow Airport bound for New York. Flight 103 was 25 minutes late taking off, but once the 747 reached its cruising altitude of 31,000 feet, its 259 passengers and crew, among them more than two-score Americans on their way home for the holidays, had settled themselves for the seven-and-a-half-hour trip. Shortly after crossing the border of Scotland, the giant aircraft was torn apart by an explosion and it disappeared from airport radar screens at 7:17 PM. Bodies and fiery debris from Flight 103 rained down on the Scottish village of Lockerbie, killing 11 people on the ground and bringing the death toll from the disaster to 270.
If the Pan American jet had taken off on time, the blast would have occurred over the ocean and the cause of the crash might never have been determined. But investigators sifting through the widely scattered wreckage found evidence of an extremely powerful plastic explosive that had probably been placed in the plane’s forward luggage compartment. When it went off, the investigators theorized, the bomb severed the cockpit and part of the first-class section from the rest of the aircraft and destroyed the plane’s electrical and communications systems. An engineer at the Boeing Company, maker of the 747, declared: “It was a diabolically well-planned event, handled by experts in knowledge of the aircraft, its structure, the flight plan — the works.”
On the day after the tragedy, a telephone caller said the bombing was the work of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, and it was in retaliation for the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by a U.S. Navy cruiser in the Persian Gulf last July. The group was not known to experts on terrorism, and they suggested two more likely perpetrators — either Abu Nidal’s Fatah Revolutionary Council or Ahmed Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command. Fourteen members of Jibril’s group were arrested by West German authorities last October. The cache of arms in their possession included a portable radio packed so expertly with plastic explosive that the radio still worked.
How the bomb got on Flight 103 is still under investigation. What is known is that, on December 5th, an unidentified caller warned that there would be a bombing attempt on a Pan American plane flying from Frankfurt, West Germany, to the United States. Flight 103 originated aboard a 727 in Frankfurt on December 21st. About 40 passengers were transferred to the Pan Am 747 in London, but their luggage, which had been inspected by security guards in Frankfurt, was not checked again before being loaded at Heathrow. What is certain is that the terror conspiracy that began a little over two decades ago is still leaving its bloody imprint on a frightened world.
Consider the statistics. Since 1980, more than 5,000 terrorist incidents have occurred worldwide, leaving more than 4,000 people dead and more than 10,000 wounded. Almost 1,000 of those casualties have been American citizens. Although most of the terrorist attacks have taken place in Western Europe and the Middle East, the South Asian nation of Pakistan has been a particular terrorist target in recent years because of its support for the freedom fighters in Afghanistan and its offer of sanctuary to five million Afghans fleeing the Soviet barbarians occupying their country.
The culmination of the Soviet-backed terror assault on Pakistan was the bombing last August of a plane carrying Pakistani President Zia and nearly 30 of his top aides and army officers. Also killed in the crash were U.S. Ambassador Arnold L. Raphael and Brigadier General Herbert M. Wassom, the chief American military attaché to Pakistan. The Soviet role in the murders was either ignored or played down by the media and the Reagan Administration. Three months later, for example, Vice President Bush wrote an introductory letter to a Pentagon booklet entitled Terrorist Group Profiles. While noting the terror campaign against Pakistan by “Soviet-trained and organized” Afghan agents, Mr. Bush said nary a word about the murder of President Zia and two Americans.
What Is Terrorism?
Many individuals, organizations, and government agencies have offered definitions of terrorism, some very simple and others very complicated. One of the best definitions is that of Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, author of the book Terrorism: How the West Can Win, and brother of Jonathan Netanyahu, the Israeli commando who was killed at Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976 while leading a raid that rescued more than 100 hostages held aboard a skyjacked airliner. “Terrorism,” said Benjamin Netanyahu, “is the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming, and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.”
The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, said Lenin early in this century. And what better way to terrorize people than to murder and brutalize innocent men, women, and children? Terrorism directed at government officials or military officers does not rank nearly as high on the fright scale as assaults on civilians who think themselves the unlikeliest of targets. The person who boards a plane in a war zone recognizes the risks involved; the college student flying home from a semester in England does not expect to die in a terror bombing.
Another purpose of terrorism is to show the entire world that a government does not have the power to protect its own citizens. In her 1981 book The Terror Network, a masterful account of international terrorism during the 1970s, American foreign correspondent Claire Sterling wrote: “The terrorists’ primary value to the Kremlin lay in their resolute efforts to weaken and demoralize, confuse, humiliate, frighten, paralyze, and if possible dismantle the West’s democratic societies.”
She cited events in Italy, West Germany, Northern Ireland, Spain, Turkey, and the United States, the “mightiest power on earth, helpless to liberate American citizens held hostage halfway across the planet for months or years.” The climate of terror generated by the end of the Seventies, said Mrs. Sterling, “contributed to the merciless exposure of Western impotence” and “affected the West’s defense against Soviet expansion: the cohesion of NATO, protecting Western Europe and the Mediterranean; the credibility of the United States, protecting oil supplies and routes from the Persian Gulf.”
A third purpose of terrorism is to provoke repressive measures by a government against the terrorists and those who assist them. The repressive measures are quickly denounced by enemies of the government, at home and abroad, the government is soon destabilized and then replaced by a totalitarian regime usually loyal to Moscow (Cuba and Nicaragua, for instance). The new regime then institutes even more severe and widespread repressive measures than its predecessor, and it begins efforts to destabilize neighboring countries. And where are the vociferous critics of the previous government’s abuses, which pale by comparison with the new regime’s atrocities? Why these critics have transferred their indignation to another non-Communist country, as the cycle of destabilization begins all over again.
The process was spelled out 20 years ago by Carlos Marighella, a longtime Brazilian Communist, in his Mini-Manual for Urban Guerrillas. In this textbook for terrorists all over the world, Marighella describes how to force a democratic government to act like a police state:
First the urban guerrilla must use revolutionary violence to identify with popular causes and so win a popular base. Then, the government has no alternative except to intensify repression. The police roundups, house searches, arrests of innocent people make life in the city unbearable. The general sentiment is that the government is unjust, incapable of solving problems, and resorts purely and simply to the physical liquidation of its opponents. The political situation is transformed into a military situation in which the militarists appear more and more responsible for errors and violence.
When pacifiers and right-wing opportunists see the militarists on the brink of the abyss, they join hands and beg the hangman for elections and other tripe designed to fool the masses. Rejecting the “so-called political solution,” the urban guerrillas must become more aggressive and violent, resorting without let-up to sabotage, terrorism, expropriations, assaults, kidnappings, and executions, heightening the disastrous situation in which the government must act.
Killing is “the urban guerrilla’s sole reason for being,” said Carlos Marighella, who was only echoing the recently deceased Cuban Communist terrorist Che Guevara: “We must above all keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm; hate as a factor of struggle, intransigent hate of the enemy, hate that can push a human being beyond his natural limits and make him a cold, violent, selective, and effective killing machine.”
It is that kind of hatred and fanaticism that can spur a terrorist to assassinate a head of state, blow up a planeful of passengers, plant a powerful bomb on a busy street or in a crowded terminal, drive an explosive-laden vehicle into an embassy or a military installation, introduce botulism or poison into water supplies or a food distribution system, or enter a computer “virus,” hidden among normal programming instructions, that would cripple a nation’s military response or its security network.
While terrorism has been around for thousands of years, the beginning of the modern-day international terrorist movement can be traced to a 1964 decision of the Soviet Politburo to increase spending on terrorism by one thousand percent. Boris Ponomarev, at that time head of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which Ray Cline and Yonah Alexander have called “the most important Soviet agency for the spread of terrorism,” told his comrades in 1964 what was expected of the International Department:
We understand our international duty as consisting in support for all the revolutionary, democratic movements of modern times…. We Soviet Communists call upon all the fraternal parties and all the revolutionary forces to close their ranks more tightly, to overcome all difficulties, to rally under the banner of Marxism-Leninism in the name of the triumph of the working class.
The Soviet Union began recruiting terrorists from around the globe and training them at the Lenin Institute or at Lumumba University in Moscow, as well as at camps elsewhere in the USSR and in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Cuba. Fidel Castro was already turning out about 1,500 Latin American terrorists a year; his first group from the region to receive training was the Sandinista Communists who would take power in Nicaragua in 1979. It was also Castro who hosted one of the terrorist network’s most important international gatherings — the Tricontinental Conference in Havana in January 1966. More than 500 representatives of 83 groups emerged from that meeting with “a global revolutionary strategy to counter the global strategy of American imperialism.”
Before the year 1966 was over, new terrorist training camps had opened in Cuba under the direction of Soviet KGB Colonel Vadim Kotchergine and thousands of recruits had begun receiving instructions in Marxism-Leninism, the Russian language, explosives, weapons, guerrilla tactics, and other things a terrorist should know. According to Claire Sterling, “Castro was training the advance guard of the coming European fright decade — Palestinians, Italians, Germans, French, Spanish Basques — and forming guerrilla nuclei in practically every Western Hemisphere state south of the American border.”
The training camps later spread to other countries in Communist Europe (Bulgaria and Hungary), the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, and South Yemen), Africa (Algeria and Libya), and Asia (North Korea). Wherever the camps were located, the instructors were usually from the Soviet Union, Cuba, and East Germany. And over the next decade they turned out thousands of methodically trained and utterly ruthless terrorists who would, in Claire Sterling’s words, “move with remarkable confidence across national frontiers from floodlit stage to stage, able at a word to command the planet’s riveted attention.”
Although it may not have been planned that way, those emerging from terrorist camps in the late Sixties had timed their graduation perfectly. A series of world-shaking events had occurred in the seminal year of 1968 — assassinations, violent protests against the war in Vietnam, and rioting in the United States, Western Europe, Turkey, and Japan had radicalized a significant portion of the younger generation and they were ripe for recruitment into the terrorist conspiracy or for exploitation by those with a “global revolutionary strategy.”
The Soviet Strategy
One hundred and forty years ago, Karl Marx said that “there is only one way to shorten the murderous death agonies of the old society, only one way to shorten the bloody birth pangs of the new society … only one means — revolutionary terrorism.” His 20th century disciples have put that principle into bloody practice, but they usually avoid the word “terrorism.” Boris Ponomarev did not urge support for terrorist groups in 1964, but rather for “the revolutionary, democratic movements of modern times.” They are the same thing, of course, as Robert Moss, the internationally syndicated columnist and authority on terrorism, explains:
The Soviets do not like to talk about supporting terrorist movements. Obviously not. That is an embarrassing fact, and one that they quite clearly do not wish to admit. They talk about supporting liberation movements …. What are these national liberation groups that the Soviet Union publicly says it supports? I would contend that many of them practice terrorist methods, according to the definition that I just offered you, and should therefore be reasonably and objectively described as terrorist groups.
Why does the Kremlin support terrorist movements throughout the world? In addition to the reasons already mentioned (to terrorize, humiliate, and destabilize people and nations), another reason has been suggested by Samuel T. Francis in his Heritage Foundation booklet The Soviet Strategy of Terror: “The purpose of Soviet support of terrorism, the key to the Soviet strategy of terror, is the destruction of the economic base of American capitalism and hence of the United States as a world power.” He pointed out that virtually all Soviet-backed terrorist groups are active in areas rich in natural resources (oil in the Middle East and Latin America, strategic minerals in Africa) or situated near vital waterways (the Panama Canal, the Persian Gulf, the sea lanes off the southern tip of Africa).
Confirming this strategy was Robert Moss, who cited the testimony of a Soviet defector “that back in 1954, the 10th department of Soviet military intelligence, the GRU, drew up a plan to threaten Western access to Middle East oil. It was a plan that would involve penetration of the Arab world and alliances with radical Arab movements.” Moss expressed agreement with “professional analysts who also believe that that plan has guided Soviet strategy in the Middle East over the last quarter of a century. It was a backdrop to the Soviet dalliance with Nasser in Egypt. It is part of the backdrop to the intimate relationship that exists today between the Soviets and terrorist states like Syria, Libya, and South Yemen, and the PLO.”
The Soviet Connection
It is not fashionable today to accuse the Soviet Union of backing terrorism. Those who make such accusations are usually criticized as enemies of détente or glasnost, or as advocates of a “return to the Cold War.” Even the Reagan Administration, which was supposed to be against all terrorism, contributed mightily to the myth. For example, Vice President Bush, in his aforementioned letter introducing Terrorist Group Profiles, said that “governments sponsoring terrorism include North Korea, Iran, Libya, Syria, and South Yemen.” No mention of the Soviet Union or Cuba.
And then last month, in Vienna, there was Secretary of State George Shultz joining with representatives of 34 other nations in condemning “as criminal all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism, wherever and by whomever committed” and agreeing that “terrorism cannot be justified under any circumstances.” No doubt having difficulty keeping a straight face as they signed the anti-terrorist agreement were the representatives of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Hungary — all of them key supporters of international terrorism.
There is no way that Mr. Bush or Mr. Shultz could be unaware of the massive Soviet contribution to the terrorist conspiracy. The evidence is voluminous, but they have failed to confront the Kremlin publicly with the incriminating facts. Let us hope that their silence doesn’t come back to haunt them — and us.
For the record, we offer first some general summaries by knowledgeable experts of the Soviet connection with the terror network, and then some specific examples.
Start with Ray S. Cline, former Deputy CIA Director for Intelligence and co-author, with Yonah Alexander, of Terrorism: The Soviet Connection:
It’s important to realize that when you say the Soviet Union supports terrorism, you do not mean that they direct and command each terrorist activity. That would be impossible and not very useful. What they do is supply the infrastructure of terror: the money, the guns, the training, the background information, the communications, the propaganda that will inspire individual terrorist groups.
Continue with Senator Jeremiah Denton, whose Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism held more than 60 hearings on this issue:
The hearings … documented extensive involvement and complicity by the Soviet Union and its surrogates in a worldwide network of terrorism, much of which takes place in the name of “national liberation” movements. The hearings demonstrated that Soviet exploitation of those movements included military and political training in the Soviet Union and its proxy states; furnishing equipment, including special weapons, money, documents, and escape mechanisms; furnishing advisers, some of whom participated in the selection of civilian targets; and furnishing propaganda support directly in the Soviet and satellite press as well as through stories planted in the international press. The hearings also disclosed Soviet use of U.N. organizations to help promote and legitimize “national liberation” organizations that employ terrorism to accomplish their goals.
Conclude with “The Tel Aviv Declaration,” a statement that came out of a conference on state terrorism held in Israel in January 1986 and attended by 60 prominent senior statesmen, active and retired, military officers, and national security specialists from 12 countries. The following is excerpted from the full statement that appeared in the February 9, 1986 edition of the New York Times:
But neither Mr. Reagan nor any of the leaders of the West can have any illusions about the role of the Soviet Union in fostering and stimulating, sponsoring and training, funding and arming terrorist groups and governments around the world. This is not to suggest that the Soviets push the buttons and that their hand is always, directly or indirectly, in play. None of us subscribe to that kind of oversimplification. But where they do not initiate it, they encourage it. Where they have not organized it, they exploit it….
A “Radical Entente” presently spearheaded by five militant states (Syria, Libya, Iran, North Korea, and Cuba) is making coordinated efforts — by themselves and with others — to undermine the power and influence of the United States and its allies. Here the well-documented role of the Soviet Union is to provide the professional infrastructure of terrorism, including money, arms, explosives, recruitment and training, passports, infiltration and escape routes, transport, communications, safe havens, control officers, and more. Taken together, these constitute an elaborate international network of support systems for terrorists.
Soviet KGB Agents
In the summer of 1979, Dr. Hans Josef Horchem of West Germany’s anti-terrorist Office for the Defense of the Constitution declared that “the KGB is engineering international terrorism. The facts can be proven, documented, and are well known to the international Western intelligence community.” That was certainly true, but when Claire Sterling asked the CIA and the State Department’s Office to Combat Terrorism to confirm what Horchem had said, they refused to discuss it. Just as two years later, they refused to recognize the KGB/Bulgarian role in the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.
Not only that, but the U.S. intelligence community planted stories in the media ridiculing the Sterling thesis about the plot to kill the Pope. “I feel barriers were being put up by people who didn’t want me to get the word out,” she said. “Why? Because the administration was afraid to create a destabilizing situation. Their anti-Soviet rhetoric notwithstanding, they’ve always been afraid of that.”
In June 1984, the Italian judiciary filed a lengthy report documenting the role of the Bulgarian secret service in recruiting Mehmet Ali Agca to shoot the Holy Father in an effort to weaken the Solidarity movement in Poland. Bulgaria had long been the “hit-man section” for the KGB, said Mrs. Sterling, and was summoned into action by the Kremlin after John Paul sent Leonid Brezhnev a letter by courier, handwritten in Russian, saying that if the Soviet Union invaded Poland, he would go to his native land and stand side by side with his people. She said that by March 1981, two months before the assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square, the Soviets were calling the Pope “a cunning and dangerous ideological enemy” and “a malicious, lowly, perfidious, and backward toady of the American militarists, fighting socialism in the interests of his accomplices and his new boss in the White House.”
There were plenty of other indications of the KGB’s part in the terrorist international. In 1975, for instance, Belgian police responding to a routine car crash discovered documents revealing, in Claire Sterling’s words, “the existence of a KGB centrale in Vienna, working to ‘enliven’ terrorist formations in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland, and France. A dozen European newspapers carried the story of the Russian in charge: a high-ranking KGB officer named Alexander Benjaminov, employed in Vienna by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.”
Consider the career of Henri Curiel, who was shot to death in Paris in 1978. A founder of the Communist Party of Egypt in 1942, Curiel’s ties with the KGB can be traced back to 1952. For more than a decade before his death, he ran a support apparatus for terrorists out of a Paris organization known first as Solidarité and later as Aide et Amitie. His clients included Communist Parties in Israel, Iraq, Haiti, Morocco, and Sudan, as well as some of the world’s best-known terrorist bands. These included the Japanese Red Army, the German Red Army Faction, the Irish IRA, the Spanish ETA, and the Uruguayan Tupamaros.
Henri also served as mentor of his young cousin, George Bihar, who became better known in espionage circles as George Blake — the member of Britain’s MI-6 who betrayed 40 Free World agents and turned over countless state secrets to the KGB before he was caught. Blake escaped from a British jail in 1966 and turned up in Moscow, where he was decorated in 1970 for his service to the Soviet cause.
Or the career of Carlos, who ran a highly successful terrorist network out of Paris in 1974 and 1975. Born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez in Venezuela, Carlos became a Communist activist at the age of 15. He attended the Tricontinental Conference in Havana in 1966 and came under KGB control. After two years at Lumumba University in Moscow, Carlos teamed up with Palestinian terrorists George Habash and Wadi Haddad in the Middle East, then worked out of London for Mohammed Boudia, an Algerian Communist connected with the KGB at least since 1967, and took over Boudia’s Paris network after the Algerian was killed by Israeli agents in 1974.
During the next two years, Carlos supervised a series of terrorist spectaculars that gained him international notoriety. There was the Japanese Commando’s seizure of the French Embassy in The Hague, the bombing of Le Drugstore and three newspaper offices in Paris, and the abduction of 11 OPEC oil ministers in Vienna in 1975. Though only 26, Carlos disappeared from the public eye in 1976. He reportedly worked in Libya for a few years, then in Syria, and was last reported as the leader of a European-based group called the International Faction of Revolutionary Cells.
Or the career of Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Popular Front — General Command and a suspect in the bombing of Pan American Flight 103. As a captain in the Syrian army, Jibril and 20 fellow officers founded the Palestinian Liberation Front in 1958 and staged nearly 100 commando raids into Israel in the years before the war in 1967. He had established contacts with the KGB around 1964 and, in the late Sixties and early Seventies, visited Moscow four times for special terrorist training.
Jibril’s first KGB control, according to Claire Sterling, was Alexander Victorovich Morozov, who worked out of the Soviet Embassy in Beirut and presided over a team of KGB and GRU agents based in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Morozov, who coordinated Soviet-bloc arms deliveries to the terrorists, was later replaced as Jibril’s control by Yuri Ivanovitch Starchinov. Jibril became the Kremlin’s secret channel for influencing other Palestinian terrorist leaders, such as George Habash, Naif Hawatmeh, and Abu Nidal, to keep the fighting going. The last thing the Soviet Union wanted was a peaceful settlement in the region.
None of this very significant background information, which Claire Sterling published in 1981, can be found in the two-page description of Ahmed Jibril and his PFLP-GC that appears in the Pentagon’s new booklet, Terrorist Group Profiles. The Administration’s coverup of the Soviet KGB connection with international terrorism continues. And so does the coverup of the Soviet role in creating in the Middle East what Mrs. Sterling has called “the most formidable professional guerrilla army on earth.”
Soviet Spetsnaz Forces
A truly formidable terrorist strike force that does not get much publicity is Spetsnaz, the elite Soviet unit that now has an estimated 30,000 agents operating in different parts of the world, including the United States. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, a Spetsnaz team lured Afghan army officers to an “Afghan-Soviet friendship” reception, locked the doors of the hall, and then blew them up. Another team dressed in Afghan uniforms killed President Hafizullah Amin and his family in the Darulaman Palace. Spetsnaz frogmen have been discovered near Swedish and Japanese naval bases and off the Strait of Gibraltar, which connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
A good description of this highly trained and ruthless force has been given by Robert Moss:
The so-called special designation troops are organized to undertake sabotage and terrorist operations behind enemy lines. Their exercises are conducted with an awesomely ruthless degree of realism. They go to the extent of torturing each other if they fall captive to another team in an exercise…. These are the forces that would be used to sow disruption and carry out sabotage operations and possibly also to carry out the assassination of political and military leaders in the event of war or possibly in a confrontation short of war.
According to counter-terrorism expert Neil Livingstone, “a minimum of a dozen” Spetsnaz teams are known to be operating in the United States at any one time. Some teams are posing as guards at the Soviet Embassy in Washington. Others are part of athletic and cultural delegations that visit the United States. Still others could enter the country secretly among the millions of illegal aliens crossing our borders. Border Patrol agents have caught hundreds of illegals from Cuba, Red China, Yugoslavia, and other Communist nations. What about those who were not caught? “We’ve discovered caches of weapons and provisions we believe to be predeployed,” said Livingstone.
After the Soviet Union and Cuba, there are several other countries whose leaders have been in the forefront of the terrorist conspiracy for nearly two decades. The Defense Department, in its 131-page booklet on terrorist groups, has correctly identified Iran, Afghanistan, and Libya as being “among the most notorious state sponsors of terrorism.” But the Pentagon dropped Syria from this category on the grounds that “international pressure” had forced Syria “to appear to mend its ways.”
The truth is, as Christopher Dobson and Ronald Payne pointed out in their 1987 book The Never-Ending War, Syria, Iran, and Libya remain “three pillars of the unholy alliance of terror sponsor-ship.” At secret meetings in June 1985, said the authors, the terror trio agreed “to activate the groups under their respective control. Iran would manipulate Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah (Party of God), all of which had bases in the Bekaa valley under Syrian control. Syria itself was to use the so-called ‘Palestine Salvation Front,’ the dissidents from the Arafat PLO, including the Abu Nidal faction. These bands all had headquarters both in Damascus and Libya. Muammar [Q]addafi, being the most garrulous and reckless of the three heads of the terror-backing states, took it upon himself to become the spokesman.”
In February 1986, Qaddafi assembled in Tripoli the heads of 20 of the most active terrorist groups in the Middle East, and they planned and then launched a new campaign of terror against Israel, Europe, and Americans in Europe and the Mediterranean. When a terror bomb planted in a West Berlin discotheque killed an American army sergeant in April, the Reagan Administration responded with air strikes that destroyed terrorist centers in Libya, including Qaddafi’s sophisticated communications facility. The bombing raids slowed the Libyan dictator for only a short period of time. He continues to run nearly three dozen terrorist training camps and to use surrogates to attack targets in other countries, and he is currently building a factory that will produce chemical weapons.
For more than 16 years, this “Daddy Warbucks of international terrorism,” as Claire Sterling dubbed him, has used the vast oil revenues at his disposal to provide money, training, and arms for virtually every revolutionary group in the world. He has tried to destabilize most of the states in Africa and the Middle East, and his Soviet, Cuban, Syrian, and East German instructors have trained thousands of foreign terrorists in the use of modern weapons and explosives. With 85,000 troops and billions of dollars in planes, missiles, tanks, and other armaments purchased from the Soviet Union, Libya is a formidable military force in North Africa. It is “the perfect example of what a terrorist state is — a state that conducts terrorist operations as an integral part of its foreign policy,” said Robert Moss.
Qaddafi’s terrorist twin is Hafez al-Assad of Syria, another nearly perfect terrorist state. Although he has been a loyal surrogate of the Kremlin for 18 years, bears the major responsibility for the destabilization of Lebanon, and was involved in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine compound in Beirut, which took 241 lives, Assad keeps finding useful idiots in the American government to say that he is mending his ways. We’ll believe that when the “Lion of Damascus” terminates his alliance with Qaddafi and the Ayatollah Khomeini; stops buying the latest Soviet planes, missiles, and tanks and kicks some 8,000 Soviet military personnel out of Syria; and disbands the 18,000-man security force headed by his brother Rifaat, who has a PhD from the University of Leningrad and is known as the “executioner” of the Assad regime.
All you need to know about the third member of the terror trio, the Ayatollah Khomeini, is that the Iranian fanatic will use any violent means to conquer the world for Islam. He is training thousands of young men and women to kill the “unbelievers,” even if it means committing suicide in the process. His marching orders could not be clearer:
Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those who say this are witless. Islam says kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you. Islam says kill them, put them to the sword and scatter their armies. Islam says kill in the service of Allah. Whatever good there exists is thanks to the sword, and the shadow of the sword. People cannot be made obedient except by the sword. The sword is the key of Paradise, which can only be opened for Holy Warriors.
The other major actor in the Middle East, although he is not the head of a country, is Yasser Arafat, the terrorist chieftain of the Palestine Liberation Organization. As in the case of Hafez al Assad, Arafat has persuaded the gullible that he is now willing to renounce terrorism. His statement to that effect on December 14th, however, was followed two weeks later with a threat to kill anyone who wants to end the intifada, or Palestinian uprising. “Any Palestinian leader who proposes an end to the intifada,” said Arafat, “exposes himself to the bullets of his own people and endangers his life. The PLO will know how to deal with him.”
Those who believe that Arafat has changed are the same ones who applauded him at the United Nations in 1974, when he said: “I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.” They are the ones who swooned when he told Parade Magazine in 1982: “You will discover that we are human beings, not monsters.” The truth, of course, is that Arafat is a modern-day Attila the Hun who has left a bloody trail of terrorism and murder — from the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972 to the slaughter of two dozen Israeli children at a school in Maalot in 1974, the butchery of 35 men, women, and children near Tel Aviv in 1978, and the murder of three Israeli hostages in Cyprus in 1985.
The truth is that Yasser Arafat has long been a puppet of the Kremlin. He has made numerous visits to Moscow, consulted on a weekly basis with the Soviet ambassador in Beirut, sent more than a thousand of his own people for training in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries, and provided similar terrorist training for more than 10,000 recruits from all over the world at a network of camps in the Middle East. The PLO has served as the cutting edge of the Soviet campaign of conquest in the region.
Some Terrorist Groups
There are hundreds of terrorist groups in the world, some of which have already been mentioned. Terrorist Group Profiles listed 52 of them but failed to provide important information about some of those it did list. While it included the African National Congress (much to the consternation of the State Department), it did not list the South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), which certainly belongs on any list of the world’s “more notorious terrorist groups.”
Without going into much detail, here are some of the major terrorist organizations grouped by regions: in the Middle East, there are the Abu Nidal Organization, also known as Fatah — the Revolutionary Council, whose objective is waging an “armed struggle” against the “Zionist enemy”; the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by Marxist-Leninist Naif Hawatmeh; the Palestine Liberation Organization of Yasser Arafat; the Palestine Liberation Front, headed by Muhammed Abu al Abbas, who staged the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship and the murder of an American wheel-chair-bound passenger; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by George Habash, whose goal is to establish a Marxist-Leninist government in Palestine; and Armed Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command.
The key terrorist groups in Europe are Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), a Marxist-Leninist band in Spain that has killed more than 50 senior military officers since 1973, but whose leader, José Antonio Urruticoechea, was arrested by the French police last month; the Combatant Communist Cells in Belgium, which seeks to destroy NATO and the capitalist system; Direct Action in France, which wants to destroy “Western imperialism”; the Popular Forces 25 April in Portugal, which is fighting for a Marxist state in that country; the Provisional Irish Republican Army, which uses armed struggle in a campaign to “destabilize capitalism in the whole of Ireland”; the Red Army Faction in West Germany, which hopes to precipitate a world Communist revolution; the Red Brigades in Italy, which seeks to overthrow the Italian government; and the Revolutionary Organization 17 November in Greece, which killed CIA station chief Richard Welch in Athens in 1975.
In addition to the Sikh terrorists in India and the Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka, Asia also has the powerful New People’s Army in the Philippines and, in Japan, the Japanese Red Army, which has operated in Europe and the Middle East, and Chukaku-ha, or Central Core Faction.
In Latin America, the principal groups are the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador, which is backed by Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Soviet Union; the 19th of April Movement (M-19) in Colombia, which suffered serious losses when it seized Bogota’s Palace of Justice in 1985 and killed 50 hostages, including 11 Supreme Court justices; the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist-Leninist unit that the Pentagon describes as “probably the largest, best-trained and equipped, and most effective insurgent organization in Colombia and South America”; and Shining Path in Peru, whose several thousand members often ritually mutilate their victims and leave the corpses on public display.
While hundreds of Americans have been killed in terrorist actions abroad over the past two decades, only a small fraction of that number have died in terrorist incidents on American soil. U.S. security forces, including the FBI, have prevented many terrorist plots from coming to fruition, but how long can a small number of counterintelligence agents cope with a huge number of actual and potential terrorists? Not only are there approximately 100,000 foreign Communists visiting the United States legally each year, many of whom are on espionage missions, but there are thousands of illegal agents crossing our northern and southern borders or jumping ship in U.S. ports. There have been reports of terrorist training camps in Mexico, and we have plenty of potential domestic terrorists from the more than 2,500 Americans who were trained in Cuba as part of the Venceremos Brigade between 1969 and 1977.
You may recall the armored car robbery staged by a group of American-born terrorists near Nyack, New York, in 1981. Two police officers and a guard were murdered. Good law-enforcement work led to the arrest of more than 40 men and women who had been connected or were connected with the Weather Underground, the May 19th Communist Organization, the Black Liberation Army, the Republic of New Afrika, and the Puerto Rican Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN). It was a conspiracy of white, black, and Puerto Rican revolutionaries working to overthrow America. Nine of the terrorists received prison terms and five are still at large; however, most of them went free because of insufficient evidence.
The bombings, robberies, and killings have continued in the years since 1981. Last May, the United States charged seven terrorists with the bombing of the U.S. Capitol, three military installations in the Washington area, and four buildings in New York City between 1983 and 1985. The seven were members of such groups as the Revolutionary Fighting Group, the Armed Resistance Unit, and Red Guerrilla Resistance, and they financed their violent attacks by committing armed robberies.
America is the prime target of the terrorist international and it remains very vulnerable to terrorism. The dismantling of the U.S. internal security structure began in the early 1970s and it has not been restored. A Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism was revived in 1981, but that has since been dissolved. In the December 1984 Reader’s Digest, Eugene Methvin commented on this deplorable state of affairs:
While the terrorists were preparing a massive campaign of kidnapping, assassination, and bombing, the United States had virtually disbanded its domestic-intelligence apparatus. Civil-liberty lawsuits had vitiated or destroyed police-intelligence units across the country. In the five years before the Nyack attack, the FBI’s informants in political-terrorist groups had been cut from 1,100 to fewer than 50. When a joint task force was set up to handle the Nyack case, neither the N.Y.P.D. nor the FBI had any worthwhile intelligence files to draw on.
Congress in 1986 gave the FBI the authority to investigate all terrorist acts against Americans and go after those responsible. The Bureau is currently working with the CIA, the State Department, and the Defense Department in pursuing at least 13 international terrorists. The CIA also has a new Counter-Terrorism Center, a world command post to deal with terrorists. But there is still a need for a beefed-up internal security apparatus and for an end to the coverup of the Soviet role in the international terror network.
What Can Be Done?
One of the biggest problems faced by those fighting terrorism is the media, which often function almost as public relations outlets for terrorist groups. The same media pundits who placed a curtain of silence over the Soviet part in the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul and the successful assassination of President Zia are only too happy to give hours of worldwide publicity to some revolutionary assassin or kidnapper. The media’s gross lack of good judgment recalls the question asked in the early 1960s by an Algerian FLN terrorist: “Is it better for our cause to kill ten of our enemies in a remote village where this will cause no comment, or to kill one man in Algiers where the American press will get hold of the story the next day?”
We are not arguing against reporting terrorist incidents; just against blowing them all out of proportion, conferring legitimacy on the terrorist, and giving him a priceless opportunity either to terrorize his audience further or to win them over to his side with skillful propaganda. “Publicity is absolutely essential” for terrorism to succeed, said Walter Laqueur in his book The Age of Terrorism. He reminded the media that “the defence of the democratic order (without which there would be no free press in the first place) takes precedence over freedom for the media, and the duty to save human lives is of a higher moral and legal order than the journalists’ duty to scoop the competition.”
We know who the major terrorist criminals are and who is providing them with the infrastructure of terror. If we are serious about stopping terrorism, we must put the Qaddafis, Assads, Khomeinis, and Arafats out of business, along with the organizations they support and direct. We must warn their suppliers, whether they be Communist-bloc countries or our supposed “allies” in Western Europe, to stop aiding these regimes and trading with them.
Cutting diplomatic ties with the terrorist states, including the Soviet Union, would mean shutting down the embassies and consulates that function as “terrorist service stations” for our enemies. We should impose total economic boycotts, deny landing or docking rights to any traffic to or from those countries, and take military action against the camps where the terrorists are trained to wage war on the Free World. Rejecting the nonsense that “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist,” we must step up military assistance to those groups that are fighting for freedom and a civilized society against totalitarian Communist regimes imposed on them.
What is needed to win the war against terrorism, said Benjamin Netanyahu, is political courage from government leaders, particularly in the United States. “A policy of firmness,” he said, “will make it clear that individual terrorists will be pursued, caught, and punished; that organizations that launch them will be subject to attack; that governments that shelter them will face political, economic, and, ultimately, military retaliation; that other governments that collude less brazenly will also be held accountable.”
Netanyahu said that “only a determined leadership can make the West overcome the greed, cowardice, and moral confusion that foster terrorism. It can come only from the United States, which alone has the capacity to align the West’s resistance, alone can credibly threaten the offenders, and alone can compel neutrals to shed their neutrality. The more the United States resorts to action, like punishing terrorists and their backers, the greater the number of states that will join the American effort to combat terrorism.”
President Bush has promised to take action against the terrorist threat. It is time for promises to be backed with deeds.