Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1985

Patterns of Global Terrorism. Editor: Anna Sabasteanski. Volume 1, Berkshire Publishing, 2005.

The Year in Review

International terrorists had a banner year in 1985. They carried out more attacks than in any year since the decade began; caused more casualties—especially fatalities—over that same period (329 alone occurred when an Air India jetliner was blown up in June); conducted a host of spectacular, publicity-grabbing events that ultimately ended in coldblooded murder; increasingly turned to business and more accessible public targets as security at official and military installations was strengthened against terrorism, and, in so doing, counted among their victims a record number of innocent bystanders; and finally, gave pause to international travelers worldwide who feared the increasingly indiscriminate nature of international terrorism.

In 1985, 782 international terrorist incidents occurred, a 30-percent increase over 1984. One-third of these incidents resulted in casualties; more than 800 persons were killed and over 1,200 were wounded.

A comparison by region of the 1985 data with those of 1984 reveals no consistent pattern; international terrorist attacks increased in some places but declined in others. Last year more international terrorist incidents—more than 350—were recorded in the Middle East than in any other part of the world. If the number of attacks conducted by Middle Eastern terrorists elsewhere is also included, Middle East terrorism accounted for 441, or nearly 60 percent, of the total international terrorist incidents in 1985. For the first time in a decade, Western Europe dropped from first to second place as a venue for international terrorism, with 218 incidents. Most attacks by West European terrorists were designed to avoid casualties, but most of those by Middle Eastern terrorists were intended to cause maximum casualties. In 1985 Middle Eastern terrorists worldwide killed more than 230 persons and injured more than 820.

Citizens and property of at least 84 countries were victims or targets of international terrorist attacks in 1985, compared with 76 in 1984. International terrorist incidents took place in at least 72 countries. Attacks against business interests increased over 1984—from 165 to 227. Attacks against diplomatic personnel or facilities dropped from 133 to 91, but attacks against other official and military targets increased from 84 to 92, and from 53 to 67, respectively.

Certain categories of incidents increased markedly. Arson attacks jumped from 57 in 1984 to 102 in 1985, bombings rose from 302 to 399, and the number of kidnapings increased from 47 to 87. Attacks against US citizens or property rose from 133 in 1984 to 170 in 1985. About 45 percent of the 1985 incidents involving US targets occurred in Latin America; more than one-third took place in Western Europe. Of the 17 anti-US terrorist incidents that occurred in the Middle East, 13 were in Lebanon.

Last year saw a substantial increase in the number of indiscriminate casualties. In 1985 most victims were random targets, such as tourists or passers-by. The number of incidents against victims such as nonofficial public figures and others not expressly affiliated with business, government, or the military increased from 280 in 1984 to 479 in 1985.

Sovereign states continued to be active in supporting terrorism last year. In 1985, 93 incidents (12 percent of all international terrorist incidents), one-third of which occurred in Western Europe, bore indications of state support. More than 90 percent of state-supported terrorist incidents were conducted by groups or agents supported by Middle Eastern states—most notably Libya, Syria, and Iran. Libya moved toward closer ties to the radical Palestinian Abu Nidal Group, and Syria’s role as a patron of international terrorism reached a new high. Iranian-backed groups, such as the fundamentalist Shia Hizballah in Lebanon, kidnaped nearly a dozen Westerners in Lebanon in 1985, although these kidnapings probably did not occur as a result of Iranian direction.

International terrorism of Middle East origin increased substantially in 1985. Nearly six out of every 10 attacks either occurred in the region or were conducted by Middle Easterners elsewhere. Palestinian groups—whether considered politically moderate or radical—increased their level of international terrorism by nearly 200 percent, accounting for 256 incidents, or one-third of the total.

Middle Eastern terrorists increased their level of activity outside the region, especially in Western Europe. In 1985, 74 acts of terrorism by Middle Eastern terrorists occurred in Western Europe, compared with 61 in 1984. During the period from 1981 to 1983, the average annual number of such incidents was 35. The highest levels of Middle East-origin activity occurred in Greece, Cyprus, and Italy. Among these “spillover” incidents were some of the most dramatic, and lethal, attacks of the year: the hijacking in June of a TWA jetliner flying from Athens to Rome; the seizure of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in October as it departed Alexandria, Egypt; the hijacking in November of an Egyptian jetliner from Athens to Malta; and near-simultaneous machinegun and grenade massacres at the Rome and Vienna airports in December.

In Israel and the occupied territories, international terrorism increased markedly in 1985. Of 357 international terrorist incidents that occurred in the Middle East, more than 220 took place in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip—up nearly 200 percent from the previous year. Much of the increase was the result of the activity of various Palestinian groups, both inside and outside the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), against Israeli and Arab targets—partly in competition with, or opposition to, each other and partly to demonstrate that they still constitute a force to be feared.

Western Europe experienced a slightly reduced overall level of international terrorist incidents in 1985 because decreased activity by West European terrorists offset increased Middle East terrorism there. Indigenous terrorist groups remained dangerous, however, and they continued their campaign against NATO targets that began in late 1984. Concern about cooperation among several West European groups was heightened by a joint communique issued in January by the West German Red Army Faction (RAF) and the French Action Directe (AD) that called for a “common anti-imperialist front” in Western Europe and a joint claim of responsibility for the car-bombing in August at Rhein-Main airbase in West Germany.

In Latin America, international terrorism increased by about 45 percent over 1984, totaling 119 incidents. Chile and Colombia showed the greatest increase. Terrorism against US targets made up the largest portion of international terrorist activity in Latin America last year. Perhaps the most vicious anti-US attack was the June massacre of 13 persons by a component of the Central American Revolutionary Workers’ Party (PRTC)—including four off-duty US Marines and two US businessmen—in a San Salvador café. Most of the political violence in the region, however, continues to result from local insurgencies, not international terrorism.

Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa each accounted for 5 percent of all international terrorist activity last year. Asia witnessed an increase from the previous year, but activity in Sub-Saharan Africa declined somewhat. Sikh terrorists, who carried out their first international attacks in 1985, probably were responsible for the most lethal single incident of the year—the bombing of an Air India Jetliner over the North Atlantic.

In 1985, 20 percent of all international terrorist activity involved US citizens or property. Most anti-US attacks—45 percent—occurred in Latin America, primarily in Chile and Colombia. Another one-third took place in Western Europe, with West Germany a favorite location. Altogether, last year 38 US citizens were killed, and 157 were wounded, compared with 12 and 33, respectively, during the previous year. Business interests were the most frequently attacked US targets in 1985.

Terrorist Spillover From the Middle East

Growing Problem

The number of international terrorist attacks conducted by Middle Eastern groups outside the region continued to rise in 1985. As in previous years, Western Europe was the principal venue for this spillover problem, and terrorism of Middle Eastern origin accounted for a markedly increased share of the total number of international terrorist incidents in Western Europe in 1985. In 1985, 74 incidents of Middle East spillover activity occurred there, 13 more than the previous year and double the annual average for the period from 1980 to 1983. In the past, Western victims were generally people caught in the crossfire, but in 1985 they increasingly were the specific target.

In 1985 Middle Eastern terrorism spread to five West European countries—Belgium, Denmark, Malta, Sweden, and Switzerland—that had not experienced the problem in 1984. Most Middle East-origin attacks occurred in countries bordering the Mediterranean, with Greece, Cyprus, and Italy accounting for half the total. The level of spillover activity declined in a few West European states, the most dramatic example being the United Kingdom where the number of incidents dropped from 13 to two.

Middle East spillover activity accounted for much of the drama of terrorism in Western Europe in 1985 as well as the dramatic rise in the number of casualties there. Middle Eastern terrorists operating in Western Europe killed 109 people and wounded 540. Incidents included the brutal murders of Americans and other tourists on aircraft, at crowded airports, and aboard a cruise ship. Such attacks illustrate the growing disregard for innocent bystanders and the increasing tendency of Middle Eastern terrorists to attack unprotected targets in public places. Business targets suffered about a third of the Middle East-origin attacks. These terrorists also were responsible for carrying out five hijackings last year—more than the combined total of hijackings by Middle Easterners in Western Europe for the preceding four years. The victims of Middle Eastern terrorists in Western Europe were fairly equally divided between Middle Eastern and West European or North American nationalities.

For the most part, such terrorist activity in Western Europe resulted from Middle Eastern terrorists targeting fellow Middle Easterners—including Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians, Syrians, Libyans, and Iranians. Diplomatic personnel and facilities of moderate Arab states, such as Jordan; officials of various Palestinian groups; and emigre opponents of Middle Eastern regimes were frequent targets.

Palestinian terrorists were the major contributors to the spillover violence, conducting nearly 60 percent of the incidents in 1985 and some 40 percent of all Middle East-origin attacks in Western Europe during 1980-85. This rise in Palestinian terrorism in 1985 included the resumption by pro-Arafat Palestinians of terrorist attacks outside of Israel and the occupied territories after a 10-year hiatus. Fatah, the group led by PLO head Arafat, is believed responsible for some 10 attacks in Western Europe in 1985, including the murder last September of three Israelis in Cyprus. Most Fatah attacks in Western Europe were against Syrian targets, probably in retaliation for Syrian-backed attacks against Fatah officials.

Much of the Palestinian terrorist activity in Western Europe continued to be carried out by anti-Arafat groups, who staunchly oppose a negotiated settlement with Israel and refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The Abu Nidal Group was one of the most active—and ruthless—of these organizations. It staged some two dozen incidents in 1985, over half of them in Western Europe. The Abu Nidal attacks in Western Europe caused 73 deaths and wounded 251 persons. Thirty-six of the victims were US citizens. Among the more dramatic Middle Eastern terrorist attacks in Western Europe in 1985 were the following:

  • On 12 April the El Descanso restaurant outside Madrid was bombed, killing 18 Spaniards and wounding another 82 persons, including 15 Americans. Individuals claiming to represent several terrorist groups—including some West European ones—claimed responsibility, but Middle Eastern terrorists are among the prime suspects.
  • Greece/Lebanon. On 14 June Lebanese Shia gunmen hijacked TWA flight 847 flying from Athens to Rome and forced it to land in Beirut. The hijackers released the hostages 17 days later but killed US Navy diver Robert Stethem during the early stages of the incident.
  • On 3 September two grenades were thrown into the lobby of a Greek hotel in Glyfada, wounding 19 Britons. A caller to an Athens newspaper stated that the Palestinian Black September organization—a name used by the Abu Nidal Group—would stage numerous attacks in Athens if Greek authorities did not release one of its imprisoned members.
  • On 16 September terrorists lobbed grenades into the Cafe de Paris restaurant in Rome, wounding 38 tourists, including nine Americans. The Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims, a covername used by the Abu Nidal Group, claimed responsibility.
  • Mediterranean Sea. On 7 October the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro was seized by the PLF as it departed Alexandria, Egypt, for Port Said. Before surrendering to Egyptian authorities on 9 October, the terrorists killed US tourist Leon Klinghoffer.
  • Greece/Malta. On 23 November an Egyptian jetliner was hijacked from Athens to Malta. The terrorists murdered several persons, including American Scarlett Rogencamp, and wounded the other Americans aboard before Egyptian commandos stormed the plane, killing some 60 remaining persons. The Arab Revolutionary Brigades, another covername used by the Abu Nidal Group, claimed responsibility for the hijacking jointly with the Egyptian Revolution.
  • Italy and Austria. On 27 December near-simultaneous machinegun and grenade attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports left more than 20 persons dead, including five Americans, and some 120 wounded, including 20 Americans. The Abu Nidal Group carried out both attacks.

Why Western Europe?

Middle Eastern terrorist groups operated with growing frequency in Western Europe for a number of reasons:

  • Several dozen Middle Eastern terrorists were jailed in West European prisons. This has spurred a number of Middle Eastern groups—including the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction and the Abu Nidal Group—to attack West European targets seeking to pressure those governments into releasing group members. Countries holding Abu Nidal members in prison are at particular risk. In December 1985 there were 21 known or suspected Abu Nidal members imprisoned in eight West European countries: Austria (five); United Kingdom (three); Italy (four); Greece (three); Spain (two); France (two); Portugal (one); and Malta (one). Some of these were released in 1986. Other Arabs being held in West European jails may also be Abu Nidal members.
  • Large numbers of Middle Easterners—many of whom comprise expatriate and student communities—live and travel in Western Europe and provide cover, shelter, and potential recruits.
  • Western Europe has fewer travel restrictions between its countries than is the case with many other regions, and some countries also have arrangements with some Middle Eastern states to facilitate guest workers. A number of West European governments recognize this vulnerability and are considering measures to tighten controls.
  • Abundant accessible targets exist in Western Europe, in contrast to the Middle East where formidable security measures surround most Western installations.
  • Worldwide publicity accompanies international terrorist attacks in Western Europe, but in countries such as Lebanon the level of violence is so high it all but masks other than the most spectacular terrorist events.
  • The open nature of West European society makes it operationally easy to function, free of the restrictions on personal freedoms prevalent elsewhere.
  • A number of West European countries host exile groups and former leaders that are attractive targets for regimes, such as those in Libya and Iran, that wish to silence vocal opponents. Likewise, there are numerous targets for retaliation against such attacks, including official representatives of incumbent regimes.
  • The phenomenon of Middle Eastern spillover has been abetted by the diplomatic structures of countries, such as Libya and Iran, whose diplomatic personnel have been implicated in terrorist attacks.
  • Certain West European countries have offered passive support to terrorist groups or, by their rhetoric, have created environments that appear sympathetic to terrorists. In some cases, states apparently have struck deals with terrorists—making concessions in exchange for agreements that terrorists will refrain from conducting attacks on their territory.

Target USA

Of the 782 international terrorist incidents in 1985, 170—or 22 percent—involved US citizens or property. US interests were second only to Israeli ones as favorite terrorist targets. Almost half the international terrorist incidents involving US citizens or property occurred in Latin America, primarily in Chile and Colombia. Over a third took place in Western Europe, with West Germany a favored location. Businesses were the most frequently attacked US targets.


Twenty-one of the anti-US incidents resulted in American casualties, 10 in fatalities. Altogether, 38 US citizens were killed and 157 were wounded, compared with 12 and 33, respectively, during 1984. The 1985 US casualty figures were the second highest since 1980. The highest total occurred in 1983 because of two mass casualty-producing incidents—the April bombing of the US Embassy and the October bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon. In 1985, as in 1984, many of the US dead and wounded were incidental casualties—unlucky bystanders at incidents in which persons or facilities of other nationalities were the principal targets.

The US fatalities occurred in the following 10 incidents:

  • Philippines, 12 May. An American of Filipino descent was assassinated by seven members of the New People’s Army (NPA) when he rebuffed their attempts at extortion.
  • Greece/Lebanon, 14 June. Two Shia gunmen, who hijacked TWA flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome, murdered US Navy diver Robert Stethem after the plane touched down in Beirut for the second time.
  • El Salvador, 19 June. Several gunmen armed with submachine guns and automatic weapons attacked a cafe in San Salvador, killing four off-duty US Marines and two US businessmen, along with seven other persons. The Mardoqueo Cruz Urban Commandos of the PRTC claimed responsibility.
  • North Atlantic, 23 June. Nineteen Americans were among the 329 passengers and crewmembers killed—probably by Sikh extremists—when a bomb exploded aboard a Shannon-bound Air India flight from Toronto.
  • West Germany, 8 August. The RAF murdered US Army soldier Edward Pimental in a wooded area in Wiesbaden, evidently to obtain his identification card in order to gain entry into Rhein-Main airbase.
  • West Germany, 8 August. A car bomb exploded at Rhein-Main airbase killing two US citizens—one military and one civilian—and wounding 17 other persons. The bombing was jointly claimed by the RAF and the French AD.
  • Spain, 9 September. A car bomb exploded in a residential area injuring 19 persons, including a US businessman who died two days later. The American was jogging past the target—a bus transporting Spanish Civil Guards. Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) claimed responsibility.
  • Mediterranean Sea, 7 October. PLF terrorists who seized the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro killed US tourist Leon Klinghoffer before surrendering to Egyptian authorities on 9 October.
  • Greece/Malta, 23 November. Terrorists who hijacked an Egyptian airliner from Athens to Malta murdered American Scarlett Rogencamp, as well as four other people, and wounded the other Americans aboard. The Arab Revolutionary Brigades, an Abu Nidal covername, claimed responsibility jointly with the Egyptian Revolution.
  • Italy, 27 December. Abu Nidal terrorists armed with AK-47 rifles and handgrenades attacked the El Al ticket counter at Rome airport, killing five Americans, and 10 other persons, and wounding 15 Americans and nearly 60 others.


In 1985 some 60 US citizens were kidnaped, hijacked, or otherwise taken hostage. There were 13 kidnapings of US citizens and, by year’s end, six of the victims were still being held hostage—four in Lebanon and two in Colombia.

Other Anti-US Violence

There were other manifestations of anti-US violence in 1985, some of which resulted in US casualties. A number of these occurred in Mexico, presumably by individuals connected with narcotics trafficking. In early February four gunmen kidnaped US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena Salazar as he was leaving his office in Guadalajara. Authorities discovered his body in March, along with that of a Mexican pilot who sometimes flew DEA missions. In late January another American, John Walker, also disappeared in Guadalajara, along with a Cuban companion. The two men—whose bodies were found five months later—were last seen alive in a restaurant patronized by elements of the narcotics underworld.

Regional Patterns: The Middle East

In 1985, 45 percent of all international terrorist attacks occurred in the Middle East. The inclusion of Middle East-origin events that took place elsewhere—principally in Western Europe—brings the total of Middle East-related attacks to more than half of all incidents worldwide. Last year Middle Eastern terrorists showed growing disregard for the safety of innocent bystanders and conducted an increasing number of attacks against public places. Terrorism sponsored by Middle Eastern states declined slightly but was more than offset by a nearly 200-percent increase in terrorism conducted by Palestinians.

Iran and Lebanon

The number of Iranian-sponsored attacks declined from the record level of 1984. Iran backs groups in Lebanon, Iraq, and throughout the Persian Gulf that aim to promote a Khomeinistyle revolution. Their activities serve Iran’s foreign policy goals, even if the groups do not formally coordinate their plans with Tehran. The fundamentalist Shia faction Hizballah in Lebanon and the Dawa Party in Kuwait and Iraq are among the most active Iranian-backed groups that conducted international terrorism in 1985.

Radical Shia terrorists were active primarily in Lebanon and the Persian Gulf. Hizballah factions kidnaped nearly a dozen Westerners in Lebanon in 1985, although two Americans—Jeremy Levin and the Reverend Benjamin Weir, both seized in 1984—escaped or were released. Two other US citizens seized in 1984—William Buckley and Peter Kilburn—continued to be held in 1985. Islamic Jihad claimed that it had murdered Buckley in early October 1985, following an Israeli raid on the PLO headquarters in Tunis. There has been no independent corroboration of his death. At year’s end, Kilburn remained in captivity. Three additional Americans—the Associated Press bureau chief and a dean and an administrator from the American University of Beirut—were kidnaped in the spring. Radical Shias kidnaped four French citizens in 1985; four others—members of the French observer force—were killed early in the year. In the Persian Gulf, pro-Iranian Shias attempted to crash an explosives-laden car into the motorcade of the Amir of Kuwait in May.

One of the year’s most dramatic incidents—in which an American naval enlisted man was beaten and killed—occurred in mid-June when two Shia gunmen hijacked TWA flight 847 carrying 153 passengers and crew, mostly Americans, en route from Athens to Rome. After two round trips from Beirut to Algiers, the aircraft settled in Beirut for the rest of the 17-day-long incident. The remaining 39 passengers and crew were taken to undisclosed locations in Beirut and turned over to elements of Hizballah and the Shia Amal militia. The hijackers demanded the release of 700 Shia prisoners being held by Israel. During the incident, Israel freed 31 of the prisoners, but the crisis ended only after Syria intervened and helped obtain the release of the passengers.

International terrorism in Lebanon was not limited to US and other Western targets. In late September, four Soviet diplomats were abducted in West Beirut during a period of heavy fighting in Tripoli between pro-Syrian Lebanese militias and Sunni fundamentalists sympathetic to the Islamic Unification Movement. One of the Soviets was killed and his body dumped in West Beirut two days after the kidnaping. The Islamic Liberation Organization claimed responsibility for the kidnapings and threatened to execute the remaining Soviets unless an immediate cease-fire was imposed.

A cease-fire took effect on 4 October. However, the kidnapers continued to hold the Soviets hostage, and other demands were made, including the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Several weeks later, however, the three Soviets were released unharmed in a Sunni area of West Beirut. Their kidnapers, who said the release was a goodwill gesture and a warning to stop harassing Sunni fundamentalists in Tripoli, undoubtedly faced intense pressure from the Syrianbacked militias that dominate West Beirut.

In 1985, during its 10th year of civil war, violence continued to be a fact of life in Lebanon as factional militias—all of which have used terrorist tactics—continued to wage war throughout most of the country. Even though more international terrorist incidents (76) occurred in Lebanon than in any other country in the world in 1985, international terrorist activity accounted for only a fraction of that country’s political violence.

Israel and the Palestinians

International terrorism motivated by the Israeli-Palestinian dispute increased dramatically in 1985 and accounted for much of the increase in Middle Eastern terrorism overall. Attacks on Jewish targets inside Israel and the occupied territories skyrocketed to 170 from a total of 50 in 1984. Of the 139 attacks that took place on the West Bank, 97 were directed at Israeli targets. Outside the Middle East, symbolic Jewish targets, such as synagogues and Jewish-owned stores, were attacked some 18 times.

Although many of the incidents on the West Bank consisted of small-scale incendiary bombings against property, Israeli citizens were killed or wounded in a number of attacks. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting of an Israeli occupation official in Al-Birah in late March, as well as for the kidnaping and subsequent murder of an off-duty Israeli soldier in mid-April. Abu Musa’s Fatah dissidents claimed responsibility for the killing of a civilian Israeli Defense Force worker in Nablus. A pro-Arafat wing of the PLO, Fatah Force 17, also stepped up its activity, claiming responsibility for several attacks in the West Bank and occupied territories during 1985.

Israeli extremists carried out several attacks against Arab targets in a continuing cycle of retaliation. In late April, for example, an Arab cabdriver was murdered near an area where an Israeli cabdriver had been murdered four days earlier. Israeli extremists also may have been responsible for attacks on two mayors of Palestinian refugee camps near Jerusalem.

Attacks carried out worldwide by Palestinians more than doubled, with the Abu Nidal Group alone accounting for 10 percent of these incidents. The PLO ended its self-imposed 1974 ban on violence outside Israel and the occupied territories; pro-Arafat terrorists murdered three Israelis aboard a yacht in Larnaca, Cyprus, in September. Following the slayings, the terrorists surrendered to authorities and remained in a Cypriot prison pending trial. Within a week of the shootings, Israeli jets attacked PLO headquarters in Tunis, indicating that Israel, at least, did not believe Arafat’s protestations of innocence. Three days later, the pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad claimed to have executed US political officer William Buckley in retaliation for the raid. (Buckley was taken hostage in West Beirut in March 1984.)

Wings of the PLO loyal to Arafat also participated in terrorism outside the Middle East. The hijacking in October of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by the PLF was the most dramatic example, although the terrorists subsequently claimed that they originally had intended to stay aboard the ship until it reached Israel and conduct a terrorist attack there.

In 1985 radical Palestinians continued to assassinate more moderate Palestinians. In early December, for example, a prominent Palestinian lawyer who favored negotiations with Israel was stabbed to death outside his home in Ramallah on the West Bank. Radical Palestinians are believed responsible.


In 1985 Kuwait continued to be a target of international terrorists seeking the release of 17 Shia terrorists jailed there in connection with a series of bombings against the US and French Embassies in Kuwait in December 1983. Other motivations include a desire to punish Kuwait because of its support for Iraq in Baghdad’s war with Iran and to intimidate Kuwait into providing more political and financial support to hardline Arab states. In late May 1985, members of the Iranian-backed Dawa Party carried out a car-bombing on the motorcade of the Amir of Kuwait. Six people died in the explosion and ensuing melee, and 12 were injured. The Amir suffered minor injuries. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, stating it was conducted in response to Kuwait’s failure to release the imprisoned Shia terrorists.

The Arab Revolutionary Brigades, a covername used by the Abu Nidal Group when attacking interests of Persian Gulf states, claimed responsibility for a number of anti-Kuwaiti attacks in 1985, including near-simultaneous bombings in mid-July of two crowded outdoor cafes in Kuwait. The explosions killed eight persons and injured some 90 others. Kuwaiti security forces detonated a third bomb found in yet another cafe.


In 1985, a handful of international terrorist incidents took place in Jordan. Elsewhere, Jordanian interests—principally in Western Europe—were attacked some 10 times. The Palestine National Council meeting in Amman in November 1984 and the PLO-Jordan accord of February 1985 stimulated almost double the number of attacks against Jordanian targets by Syrian-supported groups in 1985, compared with 1984. Most of the anti-Jordanian attacks in Western Europe were claimed by the Black September Organization, a covername used by the Syrian-supported Abu Nidal Group when it targets Jordanian interests. Among the group’s attacks in 1985 were the near-simultaneous grenade attacks in March against Jordanian airline offices in Athens, Rome, and Nicosia, a rocket attack in April against a Jordanian airliner in Athens, and the assassination in July of a Jordanian diplomat in Ankara. In mid-1985 Amman made overtures to Damascus in hopes of improving their strained relations. These led to discussions between President Assad and King Hussein in Damascus in December. Despite the lack of major bilateral agreements, the near-term threat that Syrian-backed groups posed to Jordanian security has been reduced significantly since the dialogue began.


In 1985, 14 incidents of international terrorism occurred in Syria. Another eight attacks were conducted against Syrian personnel or property abroad. In late May 1985, in Rabat, Morocco, a vehicle registered to the Syrian Embassy—and parked in front of the Syrian Ambassador’s residence—was destroyed by an explosion. Though, for the most part, claims of responsibility are not made in connection with anti-Syrian terrorism, pro-Arafat Palestinians are prime suspects in anti-Syrian activity outside of Syria. Within Syria, likely perpetrators include pro-Arafat Palestinians, pro-Iraqi dissidents, Lebanese Christians, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other disaffected elements.

Regional Patterns: Western Europe

In Western Europe the number of international terrorist incidents in 1985 declined somewhat from that of the previous year—from 232 to 218. Of these, nearly 150 were conducted by West European terrorist groups. Terrorism by European groups remained a major concern because of the so-called Euroterrorist campaign. Three terrorist groups—West Germany’s RAF, France’s AD, and Belgium’s Communist Combatant Cells (CCC)—began a series of anti-NATO attacks in their respective countries in late 1984 causing speculation that the groups had joined forces and were coordinating their attacks. A joint communique issued by the RAF and AD in January 1985 calling for a “common anti-imperialist front” in Western Europe fueled this concern as did their joint claims of responsibility in August for a terrorist attack in West Germany. In Brussels, the CCC cited solidarity with RAF hunger strikers in January as the reason for its car-bombing of the NATO Support Facility there.

Several West European security services made significant advances against local terrorist groups. In Belgium, for example, authorities arrested several leading members of the CCC, and discovered numerous safehouses. Declining activity by some established groups—such as the Spanish First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance (GRAPO) and the Italian Red Brigades (BR)—was offset somewhat by the appearance of new ones, such as the Revolutionary Front for Proletarian Action (FRAP) in Belgium.

West Germany

In January, imprisoned RAF terrorists continued a hunger strike begun in December 1984 while the RAF periphery of part-time terrorists carried out numerous attacks against US and NATO-related installations. The RAF hardcore may have participated in the January assassination by AD in Paris of General Rene Audran—a French Defense Ministry official. The first confirmed attack in 1985 by the RAF hardcore was the assassination of West German industrialist Ernst Zimmermann in Munich on 1 February.

There were indications that the RAF was changing tactics, showing more inclination to engage in random violence than previously when its targets were carefully chosen for their high symbolic value. This was particularly evident in August when the RAF murdered a low-ranking US serviceman, claiming it did so to obtain his identification card. The group used the card the next day to gain access to Rhein-Main airbase where it detonated a car bomb that killed two Americans and wounded many others. The RAF and AD claimed responsibility jointly; the actual extent, if any, of AD involvement is still under investigation.


The indigenous anarchist group AD was responsible for 17 attacks in 1985. Nearly all of these were directed at domestic political targets, including the attempted assassination of Gen. Henri Blandin in June.

As in previous years, France was the stage for anti-Basque terrorism in 1985. The violent Antiterrorist Liberation Group (GAL) carried out 11 attacks in France against exiles belonging to the Spanish separatist ETA, killing 10 persons and wounding eight others. ETA retaliated by attacking French targets in Spain, thus contributing to a cycle of violence.

Numerous terrorist attacks against French interests were carried out by separatist groups attempting to win independence from France. In particular, the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica (FLNC) accounted for 96 of the 142 indigenous incidents in France in 1985. The FLNC typically set off multiple property bombs simultaneously during the night, causing few, if any, casualties. The total number of FLNC attacks declined for the fourth consecutive year, partly because of a self-imposed moratorium initiated in July. Other separatist movements such as Iparretarak, the French counterpart to Spain’s Basque separatist organization, were responsible for numerous incidents, most of which were property bombings.


The CCC continued to target US and NATO facilities in 1985, although by the end of the year domestic commercial and political installations had become increasingly favored targets. In January, two US military personnel barely escaped serious injury when the CCC detonated a car bomb outside the NATO Support Facility in Brussels. Previous CCC attacks had been limited to property damage, but, in a communique following this bombing, the group claimed that US military personnel were appropriate terrorist targets. In May the CCC caused its first fatalities when two firemen were killed trying to defuse a car bomb set by the group. The CCC received so much negative publicity following the deaths of the firemen that it later claimed that the police were actually responsible because they had not arrived at the scene quickly enough. To emphasize the point, the CCC bombed the gendarmarie administrative offices in Brussels a few days later. In December 1985 Belgian police arrested several leading CCC members and subsequently discovered CCC safehouses.

In April a previously unknown group—FRAP—surfaced. It claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the bombing in April of a building housing the North Atlantic Assembly. By the end of the summer, Belgian police had located a FRAP safehouse and later in the year discovered others.


The Military Wing of the Basque separatist organization ETA (ETA-M) remained the most serious terrorist problem in 1985, despite counterterrorist successes by Spanish and French police and continued murders of suspected ETA members by the rightwing GAL. ETA-M conducted a series of bombings against tourist targets during the spring and summer but caused only two injuries and limited property damage. The group also carried out an offensive against Spanish police and military officials that left 29 dead and several dozen wounded. Although all of ETA-M’s attacks in 1985 were directed at Spanish targets, an American passer-by was killed in an attack on the Civil Guard in September. There was a lull in ETA-M attacks between mid-September and mid-November, while the group’s leadership apparently discussed with Madrid its demands for unification of the Basque regions and amnesty for Basque prisoners and exiles.

Spain’s other major indigenous terrorist organization, GRAPO, suffered a major setback in January when Spanish police arrested 18 of its leading members and seized large quantities of arms and ammunition. Although GRAPO was relatively inactive throughout the year, in April it claimed credit for the bombing of the El Descanso restaurant near Torrejon Airbase that killed 18 Spaniards and wounded 82 others, including 15 Americans. The bombing also was claimed by several other terrorist groups, including ETA, Islamic Jihad, and the Armed Organization of the Jewish People. Some officials believed the bombing was the work of Middle Eastern terrorists, while others attributed it to GRAPO.

Iraultza, the small, violent, anti-US wing of the Basque Communist Party, claimed responsibility for at least four bombings against US businesses in 1985. Its attacks continued to be characterized by low-yield explosives placed near buildings.


The leftist Portuguese group Popular Forces of 25 April (FP-25) continued to attack US and NATO-related interests, which the group had begun targeting in late 1984. A mortar attack against NATO warships in January was followed by the bombing of 18 automobiles belonging to West German servicemen at Beja the following month. Although FP-25 claimed that these attacks were part of the West European “campaign” against NATO, they probably were “copycat” attacks patterned on RAF and AD activities and aimed at attaining publicity for FP-25.

FP-25 terrorist acts during the remainder of the year were directed mainly at indigenous targets and included two assassinations. In July a key witness in the scheduled trial of FP-25 members arrested in 1984 was killed. Two months later, 10 alleged group members escaped from prison and, in so doing, forced a delay in the trial of 50 other FP-25 defendants. The trial, which finally began in October, continued into 1986.


Following at least 13 months of inactivity, the BR returned to action in March with its only attack of 1985—the murder in Rome of Enzo Tarantelli, a prominent labor economist. Despite expectations of some security officials that the BR would join the other major West European terrorist groups in attacking NATO, it did not participate. The organization suffered setbacks during the year as Italian police arrested numerous members, including Barbara Balzarani, the most wanted group leader. In addition to the arrests, group activity was limited by a second year of factional struggle.


The level of terrorist activity in Greece remained high as both indigenous and Middle East-origin terrorism continued to cause concern. One-third of the international incidents that occurred there last year were directed against US targets, many in the form of arson and bombing attacks against vehicles belonging to US military personnel in Athens. The Revolutionary People’s Struggle and the virulently anti-US 17 November Revolutionary Organization continued to pose high threats to US personnel in Greece. In late February, members of 17 November murdered a Greek publisher whom it identified as pro-American. Earlier that month, a bomb exploded at a bar in the Athens suburb of Glyfada, which was frequented by US servicemen. Responsibility for the attack has not been established, but American customers (59 of whom were wounded in the attack) may have been the intended victims. Greece continued to provide easy access and transit for Middle Eastern terrorists, as evidenced by the TWA hijacking in June in which Flight 847 from Athens to Rome was diverted to Beirut.

Northern Ireland

The Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) detonated its first bomb in downtown Belfast in two years and exploded another bomb outside a crowded shopping center in Londonderry—both in October 1985. Throughout the year, the PIRA continued to attack businessmen and laborers who performed contract work for police stations of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The November agreement between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic—giving the latter a greater voice in the affairs of Northern Ireland—had no apparent impact on the level of PIRA violence. Protestant extremists, however, vented their dissatisfaction by staging demonstrations that, at least in 1985, were nonviolent.


Unknown persons carried out 13 bombings against domestic targets in 1985. All of the attacks were directed against property, rather than people.

Regional Patterns: Latin America

In 1985, 119 international terrorist incidents occurred in Latin America, a 45-percent increase over the previous year and the second highest total for the region since the beginning of the decade. As a venue for international incidents, however, Latin America continued to rank third, trailing the Middle East and Western Europe. Terrorism against US targets comprised the largest portion of international terrorist activity in Latin America last year.

International terrorism represents only a small percentage of the politically inspired violence in Latin America. Most terrorism is related to local insurgencies. In El Salvador, Colombia, and Peru, leftwing, rural-based insurgencies used terrorist tactics, as did several leftwing urban groups both in those countries and in Chile and Ecuador. Government-sponsored violence in Chile continued unabated, although rightwing terrorism in El Salvador declined.

El Salvador

In 1985 elements of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front began to increase their urban operations and upgrade their metropolitan front groups in an apparent change in tactics wrought by military setbacks in the field. In late June the killing of 13 persons, including four off-duty US Marines and two US businessmen, in a San Salvador cafe was the most ominous sign of this return to the cities. The Mardoqueo Cruz Urban Commandos, the urban terrorist element affiliated with the PRTC, took credit for the murders. In a message delivered to a foreign news agency, the group claimed that the attack was part of an operation that it called Yankee Aggressor, Another Vietnam Awaits You. The message hinted at further strikes against US military and diplomatic personnel. These killings were the first to involve official US personnel since May 1983, when Lt. Comdr. Albert Schaufelberger, deputy chief of the US military group, was shot to death in his car by radical members of the Popular Forces of Liberation insurgent group.

In mid-September, Inez Duarte Duran, the daughter of President Duarte, was kidnaped by leftist guerrillas of the “Pedro Pablo Castillo Command.” She was held for nearly two months before being released in a prisoner swap involving approximately two dozen captured guerrillas.

Many Salvadoran officials believed that the Duarte kidnaping signaled the return of the guerrillas to a campaign of urban terrorism, but few significant terrorist incidents occurred during the remainder of the year. Many of the urban terrorist groups experienced heavy losses late in the year as a result of the increased effectiveness of the local security services.


As in the past, most of the political violence that erupted in Colombia in 1985 was indigenous, generally involving skirmishes between insurgent groups and the military or guerrilla attacks on civilians and property. Even so, international terrorism in Colombia increased by approximately 60 percent—to 30 incidents—over 1984. The United States was most often the target of this increased international terrorist activity, with much of the violence consisting of low-level bombings against US businesses and binational centers. Nevertheless, there were several instances in which US business personnel were taken captive. In mid-August the M-19 claimed responsibility for the kidnaping in Bogota of an American oil company executive. The captive, an employee of a Tenneco subsidiary, was released in late December. In early December approximately 60 guerrillas of the People’s Liberation Army attacked a Bechtel Corporation construction site in northern Colombia and kidnaped two US engineers. The captors demanded $6 million for their release. One of the Americans died in captivity in early 1986; the other was released shortly thereafter.

Two of the three major Colombian insurgent organizations that had signed a truce with the Betancur government in 1984 repudiated it in 1985. Only the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the largest of these groups, continued to adhere to the truce; it also entered the legitimate political arena. The Ricardo Franco Front, a splinter group of the FARC, staged a number of terrorist attacks during the year, but infighting sharply curtailed the level of its terrorist activity. An internal massacre in late 1985 so depleted the ranks of the organization as to all but eliminate it as a significant threat.

One of the most dramatic terrorist attacks ever recorded in Colombia occurred in Bogota in early November when a group of well-armed M-19 members seized the Palace of Justice and held Supreme Court judges and other persons hostage for nearly 30 hours. The incident ended when units of the Colombian military and security forces stormed the building and killed all the guerrillas. Although some dozen justices and dozens of employees and visitors were killed in the storming and President Betancur was criticized by some opposition leaders for using force, the public largely supported the action. The outcome demoralized the M-19 and restricted its capability to operate in Bogota. The group subsequently shifted its operations to rural southwestern Colombia, where it continued to attack villages and engage military forces while it probably seeks to rebuild its urban infrastructure.

In late 1985, the M-19, together with elements of the Ecuadoran leftist group Alfaro Vive, Carajo! (AVC), and possibly other South American terrorist organizations, formed a regional insurgent group known as the America Battalion. The M-19 has long sought to unify several insurgent groups in the region into a front to undermine what it calls imperialist influences. However, the battalion restricted its activities in 1985 to guerrilla confrontations with the Colombian military.


More than 850 bombings occurred in Chile in 1985, the largest number of terrorist incidents recorded anywhere. The Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front carried out most of these attacks, which were directed against Chilean targets—mainly public utilities, police, and other security facilities. International terrorist incidents there increased by approximately 60 percent over 1984. Although the number of attacks against US installations and businesses rose in 1985, anti-US terrorism—consisting principally of noncasualty-producing, low-level attacks directed against US commercial establishments and financial institutions—continued to account for a small percentage of such violence in Chile.


The Sendero Luminoso (SL), a brutal Maoist insurgent group composed mainly of Andean Indians, began its “armed struggle” in 1980 and, since then, has established a stronghold in the highlands of south-central Peru. Throughout 1985, elements of the group increased the number and intensity of terrorist attacks in the cities, especially in Lima, where SL members conducted dozens of bombings and carried out an array of sabotage activities. SL guerrillas have been implicated in the slaughter of uncooperative peasants and murders of village officials who collaborated with the government.

In 1985 the leftist terrorist group Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) continued to threaten Peruvian interests. The MRTA surfaced as an urban guerrilla group in 1984, when it claimed responsibility for several terrorist incidents in Lima. Most of the group’s activities last year, however, were propaganda oriented. A number of them involved the seizure of radio stations or low-level harrassment bombings intended to underscore MRTA’s anti-US and antiimperialist ideology. In mid-1985, however, MRTA carried out its first car-bombing—against a US bank. The group suspended armed attacks against the government for three months following the inauguration in late July of President Alan Garcia; but, by early November, MRTA had resumed its activities, carrying out low-level attacks against the US and Colombian Embassies, as well as various government and business offices.


The leftist subversive group AVC, which espouses many of the antioligarchic, anti-US, and anti-imperialist views held by radical leftist groups in several Latin American countries, became increasingly active in 1985. In March approximately 25 AVC members broke into a police arsenal and stole several hundred firearms. In early August, the group kidnaped a wealthy local businessman and held him for about a month before security forces stormed the apartment in which he was held. The raid resulted in the deaths of the hostage and several terrorists.

Regional Patterns: Asia

In 1985 Asia accounted for 5 percent of the international terrorist activity worldwide. The number of international terrorist attacks in the region rose from 27 in 1984 to 41 in 1985, but overall terrorism in Asia remained predominantly domestic in nature, with Sikh violence a notable exception. Several groups identified in late 1984 as potentially explosive—including Sri Lanka’s Tamils, Pakistan’s Al-Zulfikar, and Japan’s Chukaku-ha—were, for the most part, quiescent during 1985. Isolated acts of terrorism occurred last year in such previously violence-free areas as Nepal and Singapore, but terrorist violence in places such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and New Caledonia did not rise to expected levels.

Sikh Extremists

In 1985 Sikh extremists conducted their first international terrorist attacks. They are believed responsible for last year’s most spectacular act of international terrorism—the June bombing over the North Atlantic of an Air India jetliner with 329 people aboard. The Sikh Student Federation, 10th Regiment—a militant Sikh group responsible for many acts of terrorism and communal violence within India since 1981—claimed responsibility. At about the same time, another bomb exploded in the baggage handling area of Tokyo’s Narita Airport, killing two Japanese workers. The bomb probably was intended to go off aboard an Air India jet bound for India. Both Air India incidents are believed to be the work of Canada-based Sikh extremists.

Sikh radicals also caused other problems in 1985. In early April, US authorities arrested five Sikhs on charges of conspiring to assassinate Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi during his June visit to the United States. The group also planned to attack another Indian official while he underwent medical treatment in New Orleans in May. In the United Kingdom, Sikh extremists wishing to control temple management committees have attacked several Sikh moderates there since last November.

Sikh political violence within India in 1985 returned to the high level of early 1984, reaching its greatest intensity in mid-May when Sikh terrorists carried out a series of bombings that left more than 85 persons dead and more than 150 wounded in New Delhi and other cities in northern India. These attacks occurred just before the scheduled trial of three Sikhs accused of murdering former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984. Sikh terrorism continued throughout the summer as radicals assassinated moderate Sikh leader Harchand Singh Longowal and other important Sikh and Hindu political figures.

Sri Lanka

In contrast with 1984, Tamil insurgents did not attack foreigners in 1985. Most of the five major Tamil groups restricted their attacks to police and military forces. A notable exception was the machinegun massacre of some 150 persons at the Buddhist shrine of Anuradhapura in mid-May—one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks on record. Among the victims were women, children, and Buddhist monks and nuns. No group claimed responsibility for the slaughter—which was condemned by nearly all of the Sri Lankan guerrilla groups—but the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the most lethal of the separatist groups, was probably responsible. In the wake of the massacre, the government arranged a cease-fire to prevent other such acts from occurring.


The most dangerous group, Chukaku-ha (Nucleus Faction), mounted more domestic terrorist attacks in 1985 than in most previous years, but nearly all of them were small scale and directed against property—principally the long-favored target, Narita Airport, and other transportation facilities. In November, Chukaku-ha demonstrated its ability to conduct guerrilla-type operations with a massive, well-executed assault on the National Railway—cutting railroad communications cables, firebombing a railway station, and burning a transformer facility—that paralyzed rail traffic throughout Japan. The only attack against foreigners was an early morning rocket attack on the US Consulate General in Kobe on 1 January, when the building was unoccupied. Although that attack caused neither damage nor casualties, at least one of the three rocket warheads contained antipersonnel shrapnel. Overall, the number of international terrorist incidents in Japan declined in 1985, compared with 1984.

In 1985 the best-known Asian terrorist group, the Japanese Red Army, surfaced to receive its released member, Kozo Okamoto, who had been held by the Israelis since the Lod Airport massacre in 1972. The group—apparently inactive since 1977—continues to reside in the Bekaa Valley in southern Lebanon along with its longtime patron, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The Philippines

The two major Filipino insurgent groups—the NPA and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)—continued their attacks against the government infrastructure and the civilian population in 1985, but, as in previous years, acts of international terrorism were rare.

The NPA used terrorist tactics in provincial capitals but did not move its violence into Manila. The NPA assassinated governors and mayors and frequently murdered ordinary citizens. Although the group has a policy of not attacking Americans, the organization was responsible for the death in May of an American of Philippine descent. The NPA may have been unaware of his citizenship, or it was irrelevant; guerrillas shot him as they had other farmers who refused to pay protection money.

The MNLF conducted only one act of international terrorism in 1985, when it kidnaped a Japanese photographer in January; he was released in April 1986. The group had been holding an American and a West German since November 1984 but released them in December 1985. The MNLF has continued to conduct guerrilla warfare on the island of Mindanao and—though it seizes foreign hostages from time to time—it remains an insurgent group that makes only occasional forays into domestic and international terrorism.


The Pakistani group Al-Zulfikar has been inactive since its last unsuccessful international terrorist attack two years ago. Al-Zulfikar apparently has never recovered from its attempt in July 1984 to seize foreign hostages in Vienna; during that incident nine operatives were taken into Austrian custody. In July 1985 it received yet another severe blow when one of its key leaders, Shahnawaz Bhutto, died in France. The current inability of Al-Zulfikar to recruit and operate at home appears to stem from the successes of Pakistani security forces, the lifting of martial law in late 1985, and the presence in India of a new government disinclined to support the group’s activities against the Pakistani regime.

New Caledonia

Terrorist bombings and other political violence that began in New Caledonia in late 1984 persisted during 1985. Both anti-independence French settlers and members of the proindependence Kanak National Socialist Liberation Front are responsible for these actions. Although there have been no fatalities attributable to acts of terrorism, mob violence has claimed several lives, and Noumea’s main courthouse was damaged by a bomb.

New Venues for Terrorism

Significant terrorist incidents occurred in 1985 in two Asian countries that were previously free of the terrorism problem. These attacks apparently were isolated and not necessarily indicative of new trends toward violence. In mid-March, a bomb exploded in front of a building housing the Israeli and Canadian Embassies in Singapore—the first terrorist incident there in this decade. In late June, a series of bombings in Kathmandu and other nearby towns in Nepal killed several persons and wounded a dozen others. The attacks apparently were committed by an antimonarchist group based in India. Although Nepalese authorities evidently have made no arrests, no other terrorist incidents occurred in the country in 1985.

Other Areas

Some countries that appeared to have developing terrorist problems in 1984 did not experience significant problems in 1985. In Indonesia, for example, conservative Islamic groups that were upset over the government’s secular policies conducted a series of bombings and arson attacks in late 1984 and early 1985. Indonesian authorities made a number of arrests in 1985—followed up with prosecution and stiff sentences. The level of significant incidents in the country for the remainder of the year fell off sharply.

Regional Patterns: Sub-Saharan Africa

In 1985, as in previous years, international terrorism was not a serious problem in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. The total number of international terrorist incidents there fell slightly in 1985—down to 41 from the 1984 total of 45—largely because of a decline in the number of Libyan-sponsored attacks in Central Africa. In contrast to the downward trend that marked the region as a whole, Mozambique experienced a sharp increase in the number of international terrorist incidents. Indigenous Mozambican terrorism also occurred with greater frequency and increased lethality. Despite the announced intentions of some Sub-Saharan African insurgent groups to begin attacking Westerners, US personnel and facilities in the region were seldom directly targeted—more often they were incidental targets. US interests were attacked three times in 1985, as compared with nine the previous year.


In 1985 Mozambique was the venue for 16 international terrorist attacks—double the number in 1984. This increase was mostly the result of the high level of activity by the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) insurgency, which, in its 10-year history, has exacted a casualty toll that numbers in the thousands. In April, RENAMO staged two ambushes of civilian convoys, resulting in the deaths of more than 200 civilians. RENAMO also killed 33 persons in an August attack on a funeral cortege. In some incidents, foreign aid workers and employees of foreign companies have been deliberately targeted. In April, for example, a UNICEF relief site was attacked, and the only official present was killed.

Ambushes such as the brutal incidents in April continued to be a favored tactic of the group, but kidnapings—of Mozambicans as well as foreigners—occurred with greater frequency than in past years. RENAMO evidently abducted thousands of Mozambican rural villagers in 1985, only some of whom were released by year’s end. Among the foreign victims were Portuguese and Italian nuns, priests, tourists, and technicians. In June, RENAMO announced that it would negotiate only with Lisbon the release of some Portuguese prisoners. This policy probably was intended to gain recognition for the insurgency and to exert pressure on the Portuguese Government to assist in this effort. The new strategy apparently won the release in September of 27 foreign hostages, although many other foreign kidnap victims—including two Soviet scientists seized in 1983—are presumed dead.

South African Government support for RENAMO was supposed to have ceased following the Nkomati Accord—an agreement signed by Presidents Botha and Machel in early 1984. Public revelations in 1985 of continued South African contact with RENAMO, however, confirmed Maputo’s suspicions and fueled charges of continuing South African military and other assistance to the insurgent movement.

South Africa

Attacks in South Africa by the outlawed ANC increased by as much as 200 percent in 1985. Much of the activity occurred late in the year, in the wake of the Pretoria-imposed state of emergency. The ANC began to employ bombs more indiscriminately in 1985—displaying a growing shift toward attacks on civilians. Many attacks—such as the planting of landmines in farm areas—apparently were designed to intensify unrest and shake white confidence. A narrowly averted bombing attempt of the Johannesburg Army Medical Center in May would have resulted in numerous casualties had the explosive detonated, as scheduled, during working hours.

A two-month lull in ANC bombings followed President Botha’s imposition of a state of emergency in July, but in September the ANC struck back. An ANC radiobroadcast urged nonwhites for the first time to shift the violence to white areas. Two days later, nonwhites attacked houses in white residential areas of Cape Province. Several more attacks occurred later that month and during the next month. A dramatic daytime bombing in a Durban shopping center in December 1985 killed five whites, including children. Six whites were killed in a series of landmine attacks on white farms in rural Transvaal Province near the border of Zimbabwe and Botswana.


The Namibian insurgent group South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) displayed disorganization and low morale in 1985, largely because of its military impotence, tribal squabbles, and stalled international negotiations. In 1985 the SWAPO “rainy season offensive” was even less successful than those of previous years. Small bombings of such civilian targets as schools, shops, telephone lines, and service stations were standard fare, while military camps and nearby residential areas were hit by mortar attacks.


In 1985 the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) continued to attack Angolan economic and military facilities. Its level of international terrorist activity declined over that of the previous year—from 13 to eight incidents—and, as in the past, involved mostly foreign technicians and aid workers. Eastern Bloc representatives were frequently targeted in an attempt to pressure those governments to reduce aid to Luanda. UNITA claimed that a March attack on a hotel and a Soviet housing area resulted in the deaths of 75 Bulgarians, Cubans, and Angolans. In November a Soviet residence in Huambo was bombed, resulting in many casualties.

Westerners also have fallen victim to UNITA attacks. In May two priests were killed on their way to mass; UNITA claimed responsibility and indicated that they were targeted because they traveled with a military convoy. In another case, a Red Cross worker was killed and his plane damaged by a mine when he landed at an airport that serviced Red Cross aircraft exclusively. The crowd that gathered on the runway suffered injuries from the explosion of a second mine. Brazilian and Angolan missionaries were killed and others kidnaped in yet another attack in December.


International terrorist activity occurred infrequently in Chad in 1985. In February and November, however, a total of five US employees of a US oil company were kidnaped. In both cases, Chadian security forces recovered the hostages without incident. Southern Chadian rebels were believed to be behind both kidnapings and, by targeting US citizens, were trying to embarrass Chadian President Habre.