Report: East Germany Allowed Libyan Attack On Discotheque
WEST BERLIN (AP) _ Ousted East German leader Erich Honecker and his secret police chief allowed Libyan terrorists to carry out the 1986 discotheque bombing that killed two American soldiers, a leading newspaper reported today.
The West Berlin bombing, which also killed a Turkish woman, prompted the U.S. Air Force raid on the Libyan capital of Tripoli 10 days later.
The report in the West Germany paper Die Welt was the latest in a string of disclosures on relations between international terrorists and Honecker’s Communist regime.
According to the report, secret police chief Erich Mielke knew on March 20, 1986, that Libyan terrorists were about to attack a U.S. target in West Berlin, but did nothing to stop it.
Sixteen days later, a bomb at the La Belle discotheque killed the soldiers and Turkish woman and injured more than 200 other people.
″On March 24, the Ministry for State Security (secret police) drafted a written report for Honecker. The response was not to do anything but rather to let the Libyans do as they pleased,″ Die Welt said.
A colonel in the secret police, or Stasi, who tried to stop the April 5 bombing was fired on the spot, the paper said.
The terrorist incident provoked the April 15 U.S. bombing raid on the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Tripoli, including an attack on the heavily guarded compound of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
Die Welt said Stasi archives gave a detailed account of preparations for the La Belle bombing.
The paper supplied gave the following account:
On March 25, 1986, a man claiming to be a diplomatic courier for the Libyan’s People’s Bureau, or embassy, in East Berlin, drove into West Berlin in an embassy car carrying seven grenades, three automatic pistols and two semi-automatic rifles.
The driver, identified as Musbah al-Albani, carried a note with the addresses of three discotheques, including La Belle. Stasi records even contain the car’s license number, CD 68-20.
However, the attack was postponed because of inadequate planning.
The driver traveled to West Berlin once more on March 30 but returned on April 4, the eve of the La Belle bombing.
On April 5, the Stasi monitored a telephone call to the home of Yussef Salam, a Palestinian it knew under the code name of ″Nuri.″
Immediately after the call, in which Salam was told ″It hasn’t worked out yet,″ he met with a Libyan embassy official and drove to West Berlin.
The La Belle bomb went off around 5 a.m. that morning.
Die Welt identified several other Palestinians and Libyans who allegedly played a role in the attack. Salam, who also uses the name of Yasser Chraidi, is believed to be living in Algeria, it said.
Authorities of the non-Communist government that came to power in East Germany after free elections in March also say the Communist regime harbored West German terrorists of the Red Army Faction, which launched fatal attacks in West Germany. Some suspects have been captured.
East German Interior Minister Peter-Michael Diestel has been quoted as saying the Stasi sheltered the international terrorist known as Carlos as well as the man believed responsible for the 1972 massacre of 17 Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich.
The secret police force maintained at least informal contacts with the Basque separatist group ETA and the Irish Republican Army, which seeks to overthrow British rule in Northern Ireland, Diestel has said.