Patterns of Global Terrorism. Editor: Anna Sabasteanski. Volume 1, Berkshire Publishing, 2005.
The Year in Review
The level of international terrorist activity worldwide in 1987 rose by more then 7 percent over 1986, or 832 incidents compared with 774. This increase resulted from a wave of high-casualty bombings in Pakistan carried out by agents of the Soviet-trained and -organized Afghan intelligence service known as WAD. The campaign is designed to deter the Government of Pakistan from aiding resistance fighters in Afghanistan. When the Pakistani numbers are subtracted, the number of incidents in the rest of the world declined by almost 10 percent from the 1986 statistics.
The absence of terrorist “spectaculars” perpetrated by Middle Eastern groups was also noteworthy in 1987. Several factors contributed:
- Physical security at potential official and nonofficial targets around the world, especially in Europe and the Middle East, helped frustrate terrorist planning.
- Enhanced counterterrorist cooperation between Western nations and others kept terrorists off balance. Many more international terrorists from the Middle East are in prison in the West than in previous years.
- Well-publicized revelations of its complicity in sponsoring terrorism, combined with a badly deteriorating economy, compelled Syria to diminish its support for international terrorist groups to restore its international image and attract new financial credit. In June, for instance, Syria ousted the Abu Nidal organization headquarters from Damascus, temporarily disrupting its activities. Reflecting international pressure, only one instance of Syrian-supported international terrorism occurred in 1987.
- Libya maintained the caution it exercised in 1986 following US air raids and other US and European pressure.
- Events in Lebanon—such as the camp wars and the Syrian military move into Beirut early in the year—diverted the attention and resources of international terrorist groups operating in and out of Lebanon, thus limiting their ability to carry out attacks overseas.
Nevertheless, the potential for terrorist activity remains high. Several political developments are capable of generating new outbreaks of terror: violence in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; the Iran-Iraq war; the US military presence in the Persian Gulf; Iran’s ambitions to export its Islamic revolution; the groundswell of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the Middle East; an uncertain future for Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal; the apparent resurgence of the Japanese Red Army; and continuing insurgencies in countries such as Peru, Colombia, and the Philippines, where urban terrorism is increasingly used as a revolutionary instrument.
The 832 international terrorist incidents recorded in 1987 resulted in 633 persons killed and 2,272 wounded, including casualties to terrorists themselves. Terrorism in the Middle East and its spillover into Western Europe accounted for a major part of the total casualties: 295 killed and 770 wounded. These numbers are down substantially from the 450 killed and 1,125 wounded in 1986. Because of events in Pakistan, the casualty figures for Asia increased significantly, with 240 killed and 1,220 wounded, compared with 104 and 450, respectively, in 1986.
The United States remained a major target for international terrorists, despite the decline in the number of anti-US incidents from 204 in 1986 to 149 in 1987. US casualty figures also dropped from 12 killed and 100 wounded in 1986 to seven killed and 47 wounded in 1987. Some 47 percent of anti-US incidents took place in Latin America (55 percent in 1986), 24 percent in Western Europe (23 percent in 1986), 16 percent in Asia (7 percent in 1986), 9 percent in the Middle East (10 percent in 1986), and 4 percent in Africa (5 percent in 1986). These numbers do not represent any dramatic fluctuation geographically. The United States undoubtedly will remain a prime target, and we fear that the incidence of anti-US attacks may increase as terrorist groups adjust to newly instituted counterterrorist measures.
Regional statistics show that the Middle East again had the highest incidence, incurring 371 attacks, or 45 percent of the total worldwide. When Middle Eastern spillover attacks in Western Europe are added, Middle Eastern-inspired terrorist events rise to 50 percent, down only slightly from the 1985 and 1986 totals. Asia took second place, with 170 incidents, or 20 percent; Western Europe stayed in third, with 152 incidents, or 18 percent; and Latin America, with 108 incidents, or 13 percent, was relegated to the fourth position. Africa, as in the past, remained a distant fifth, with 30 incidents, or 4 percent. Also recorded was one incident in Eastern Europe.
The citizens and property of 84 nations were attacked by international terrorists in a total of 75 countries. As in previous years, terrorists carried out most of their attacks—75 percent of the total worldwide—against businesses, tourists, and other nonofficial and frequently unprotected targets. Attacks against government, diplomatic, and military targets decreased slightly from 27 percent of the total in 1986 to 25 percent in 1987.
The number of attacks by type varied little in comparison with the previous year. Bombing attacks remained the preferred means (57 percent of the total). Arson came next (18 percent), followed by armed attacks (16 percent). Kidnapings remained at 6 percent; over half of them (30 of 53 incidents) occurred in the Middle East, as they did in 1986 (29 of 51 incidents). We detected no signs that terrorists were using new technology in their operations.
State support for international terrorism persisted. Countries that sponsor terrorism try to hide their involvement through use of proxies and other means. Incidents that we are able to attribute to state sponsorship rose from 70 attacks in 1986 to 189 in 1987, an upsurge of more than 170 percent. As in other categories we recorded, the most significant change occurred in Pakistan, where the level of international terrorist attacks sponsored by Afghanistan rose from 29 in 1986 to 127 in 1987—an increase of 338 percent. Another important increase was in Iranian-sponsored terrorism: 44 incidents representing a 30-percent jump over 1986.
Conversely, we believe that international terrorism sponsored by the two countries most subjected to international pressure, Libya and Syria, declined significantly: Libyan-sponsored terrorism dropped from 19 attacks in 1986 to only seven in 1987, and we recorded only one for Syria in 1987. Of the 14 recorded state-sponsored attacks in Western Europe in 1987, 10 were against Libyan or Iranian dissidents, whereas in 1986 only one of 11 state-sponsored attacks was against a Middle Eastern dissident—a change in targets perhaps necessitated by the stronger security measures imposed by West European governments.
The venue for international terrorist attacks remained much the same. In both 1986 and 1987 the same 10 countries were the sites of 77 percent of the total number of incidents. In order of numerical precedence for 1987, they are Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, (24 percent combined); Pakistan (17 percent); Lebanon (13 percent); Spain (6 percent); Peru (5 percent), France (3 percent); West Germany (3 percent); and the Philippines, Colombia, and Chile (each at 2 percent).
Regional Assessments: The Middle East
The total number of incidents in the Middle East has remained fairly constant over the past three years. In 1987 we detected a drop in international terrorism overseas by radical Palestinian groups, but this decrease was countered by a rise in attacks against targets in Israel and the occupied territories. This does not mean that the 1987 figures reflect a permanent trend. Indeed, information suggests that radical Palestinian groups opposed to a negotiated solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute may be planning renewed terrorist campaigns against Israeli, moderate Arab, and US targets worldwide.
Continued legal pressure on terrorists in Europe during 1987 probably contributed to the decline in Middle East terrorism spillover there.
- In February, the head of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, was sentenced to life imprisonment in France for his involvement in the assassinations of a US and an Israeli diplomat in 1982.
- In May, an Italian appeals court upheld the sentences of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) terrorists convicted in the October 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking and sentenced PLF leader Abu Abbas in absentia to life imprisonment.
- Also in May, a Vienna court sentenced two Abu Nidal organization (ANO) terrorists to life imprisonment for the Vienna airport attack of December 1985.
- In July, an Italian court sentenced an ANO terrorist to a 17-year jail term for the September 1985 grenade attack on the Cafe de Paris in Rome.
- In October, a Spanish court sentenced a self-proclaimed Abu Musa terrorist—a radical Palestinian group that is anti-Arafat and pro-Syrian—to 47 years’ imprisonment for the attempted bombing of an El Al airliner at Madrid airport in June 1986.
- The trial of ANO terrorists responsible for the September 1986 hijacking of the Pan Am airliner in Karachi started in November.
- The trial of the sole surviving terrorist from the ANO attack on the Rome airport in December 1985 started in December 1987 in Italy. (The accused received a 30-year prison sentence in February 1988).
- The case against the surviving ANO terrorist responsible for the hijacking of the Egyptair airliner in November 1985 may soon come to trial in Malta.
The lull in terrorism by Armenian groups of both the extreme left and extreme right, first noted in 1984, continued in 1987. The Marxist-Leninist Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), however, may have been responsible for a machinegun attack in East Beirut on three French soldiers, two of whom were killed and the other wounded. A telephone caller in Beirut claimed credit on behalf of ASALA, but another alleged spokesman subsequently denied that the group was involved. The rightwing Armenian terrorist group, the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide/Armenian Revolutionary Army, staged no attacks in 1987. We attribute the continuing quiescence in Armenian terrorism to a lessening of Syrian support for ASALA, effective countermeasures taken by Turkey and other governments, and perhaps reduced support in the Armenian community for terrorist violence.
Iran’s involvement in Middle Eastern terrorism, including its support for the Lebanese Hizballah group, was substantial in 1987. Its role, together with those of Libya and Syria, is discussed in the section that addresses the problem of state-sponsored terrorism.
Israel remained the primary target of Palestinian terrorists in 1987. Effective Israeli security limited terrorist ability to conduct a consistent campaign of attacks against Israel and the occupied territories, but several cross-border attacks were attempted.
- In mid-April, on the eve of the Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers, terrorists linked to Fatah staged an attack into northern Israel. The group apparently planned to take Israeli hostages to be exchanged for Arab prisoners held in Israel. In a brief firefight just inside the Israeli border, three terrorists and two Israeli soldiers were killed.
- In July, Israeli forces intercepted three terrorists in the security zone across the northern border. Two of the three were members of Saiqa, a Palestinian group controlled by Syria.
- In late December in an attempt probably designed to exploit international sympathy created by the Gaza Strip and West Bank protests, three terrorists from Abu Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Front penetrated Israel from Jordan. The three were captured shortly after their incursion.
In response to Palestinian acts of terrorism as well as cross-border raids, Israel has developed a highly sophisticated countermeasure capability. It also has one of the most efficient organizations in the world to deal with bombs found in populated areas. Its security efforts at airports and on airlines are extensive.
The extradition case of naturalized US citizen Mahmoud El Abed Ahmad (Atta) remained pending before US courts at year’s end. Ahmad is wanted in Israel on charges of murder associated with the April 1986 firebombing of a bus en route to Jerusalem.
In March, life sentences were reduced for three Jewish settlers convicted of murdering Arabs in the West Bank. In October, a bill was defeated in Parliament that would have pardoned seven members of a group called Jewish Underground who had previously been convicted of terrorist crimes against Arabs.
Lebanon once again experienced well over 100 incidents of international terrorism. The known perpetrators ranged from Iranian-backed Hizballah Shia extremists—who regularly used kidnaping to contest the Western presence—to Palestinian organizations. The majority (61 percent) of the attacks were unclaimed, making it difficult to assess trends and patterns. The targets included Westerners, members of Lebanese confessional groups, Palestinians, and Syrians.
The large number of incidents and the indiscriminate nature of the 50 bombing attacks resulted in 48 persons killed and 218 wounded. For the West, hostage taking remained the most serious problem.
- Two West Germans were abducted in Beirut in January in response to the arrest by the Federal Republic of Germany of Mohammed Hamadei, an indicted Hizballah terrorist who is accused of trying to smuggle liquid explosives through the Frankfurt airport and of participating in the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in Beirut in June 1985 and the murder of a US Navy diver. West German officials believe Mohammed Hamadei’s family, including a brother who was also arrested in West Germany in January, were responsible for the kinapings.
- A French journalist, Roger Auque, was abducted in Beirut on 13 January.
- Terry Waite, the Church of England envoy who had been closely involved in negotiating with the holders of the Western hostages, was himself kidnapped on 20 January.
- On 24 January terrorists seized four professors—three of whom are US citizens—from the Beirut University College.
- American journalist Charles Glass was taken hostage on 17 June in an operation believed instigated by the Government of Iran. Glass’s kidnapping in an area under Syrian control apparently motivated Syria to put pressure on Iran and Hizballah. Glass managed to escape although we do not know whether Syrian efforts played any role in this. Syrian attempts to free other hostages have evidently had no effect.
- Terrorists continued to hold five other Americans as well as hostages of other nationalities in 1987. Among the Americans are Terry Anderson and Thomas Sutherland, who have been held for more than three years.
Although responsibility for some of these kidnappings was either unclaimed or concealed, we believe that all of the hostages are held by Lebanese Shia extremists associated with the Hizballah. Later in the year, one South Korean, one West German, and two French hostages were released, reported in the press to be as a consequence of political or financial concessions. False rumors circulated in December that other hostages were to be released. The stories probably were circulated to pressure the governments concerned in the hope of arranging political or economic deals. Other motives for holding the hostages include to force the release of Shia terrorists imprisoned outside Lebanon, to exact high ransom payments, to inhibit Syrian or other forces from attacking Shia strongholds, or to be used as bargaining chips in Iran’s confrontation with the West.
Preoccupied as it is with questions of internal disorder, and because of internal weaknesses such as a cabinet boycott of its President, Lebanon’s Government has been unable to undertake any major counterterrorism actions for many years, including 1987.
The Lebanese Government is also unable to curb the actions of a large number of terrorist groups that operate in Lebanon. The Lebanese people themselves often suffer greatly from terrorism and hostage taking.
Hizballah, the Abu Nidal organization, ASALA, and many smaller terrorist groups are known to operate more or less freely in the Al Biqa Valley, in Beirut’s southern suburbs, and in the various Palestinian refugee camps scattered throughout the country.
In 1987, Egypt witnessed terrorist attacks from rightwing religious extremists and from a leftwing Nasserite group. Islamic fundamentalists were responsible for three terrorist attacks in 1987 against Egyptian targets. In addition, an unsuccessful attack was made by three gunmen from a self-proclaimed Nasserite group, Egypt’s Revolution, against three US Embassy officials in May. The gunmen slightly wounded two of the US officials. In September, Egyptian authorities carried out a series of arrests that devastated the organization. Twenty members of the group have been indicted so far.
Egypt has a strong antiterrorism policy and has called for greater international cooperation in fighting terrorism. Egyptian authorities support the creation of a special international tribunal to handle extradition requests.
In the aftermath of the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking, Egypt cosponsored with Italy and Austria a resolution before the International Maritime Organization calling for a convention dealing with terrorist crimes on the high seas. (The treaty was signed in Rome in March 1988. It is the first international convention against acts of terrorism at sea.) The Egyptians have worked with the United States and other countries to improve their counterterrorism and hostage-rescue capabilities.
International terrorism in Kuwait rose sharply from only three incidents in 1986 to 17 in 1987. We believe most of these incidents were instigated by Iran as part of its continuing campaign to destabilize moderate Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf region and intimidate them because of their support of Iraq and US naval activities in the Gulf.
In January 1987, Shia terrorists claiming to be members of a previously unknown group, the Prophet Mohammed’s Forces in Kuwait-Revolutionary Organization, carried out a series of bombings at Kuwaiti oil installations. Their immediate objective appeared to be to force postponement of the organization of Islamic States summit conference. Additional bombings occurred in April and May, coinciding with the US policy to reflag and escort Kuwaiti oil tankers. In July, two Kuwaiti Shia brothers, apparently trained in sabotage in Iran, blew themselves up while attempting to bomb the Air France ticket office. In September, arsonists set a fire at the science facility at Kuwait University, and in the following two months terrorist bombs exploded at the Pan Am ticket office, the Ministry of the Interior, and an American insurance company.
Two major terrorism trials took place before the State Security Court in 1987. In the January trial, one Jordanian defendant was sentenced to death for the July 1985 cafe bombings that had left 10 dead and 80 wounded. Three other defendants tried in absentia were also convicted.
In a June trial of 16 Kuwaiti Shias (four in absentia) charged with oilfield bombings in 1986 and early 1987, all but two were convicted. The sentences ranged from two years in prison to the death penalty. The death sentences stemming from the two trials have not been carried out.
Despite continuing threats from extremist Islamic Jihad and Hizballah groups, the Kuwaiti authorities remained steadfast in their refusal to release 17 Dawa party members convicted of the 1983 bombings of the US and French Embassies and other sites in which many were killed and injured. In its continuing efforts to upgrade the capabilities of security and law enforcement personnel, the Kuwaiti Government sent police representatives to the United States for antiterrorism training in 1987.
In December, Bahraini authorities arrested a pro-Iranian Bahraini Shia who allegedly was planning to bomb a petroleum facility. An antiregime Shia organization, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, tried to recruit and mobilize Bahraini Shias for terrorist-type activities throughout 1987, but with only limited success.
The regime has countered the growing terrorist threat by improving the quality of training and equipment of its security forces, which has been largely responsible for the development of an effective counterterrorism apparatus in Bahrain. The relatively small size of the Bahraini population has also contributed to the overall effectiveness of the government’s counterterrorism measures.
The Saudi Arabian Government has worked diligently to prevent terrorism on its territory. In addition to rigorous border controls, it has trained and equipped special security forces.
There were several oilfield fires and explosions in Saudi Arabia during 1987. Although the Iranian-backed Hizballah in Lebanon claimed responsibility for these incidents citing political motives, Saudi authorities attributed the incidents to electrical and other technical faults.
Although Tunisia is not normally a venue for incidents of international terrorism, three bombing attacks staged there in 1987 were deliberately aimed at foreign tourists. The attacks, which injured 33 persons including an American, were directed at a tourist bus in July and at four tourist hotels in Sousse and Monastir in August. A number of members of the Islamic Tendency Movement, which has strong Fundamentalist leanings, were arrested and sentenced to prison for the attack. We believe that the bombings were specifically related to fundamentalist unhappiness with some of the policies pursued by President Bourguiba. No incidents have taken place since the November change of government, and the fundamentalist resentment that had fueled the terrorist attacks seems to have abated.
Tunisia broke diplomatic relations with Iran in March, following the dismantling of an Iranian-backed terrorist network by French authorities in Paris. Not only had several Tunisians been implicated in that network, but the Iranian Embassy in Tunis, according to government authorities, had also recruited and trained Tunisian fundamentalists to engage in terrorist activities. The Tunisian Government has also tightened passport procedures after discovering that stolen Tunisian passports had been used in terrorist incidents.
The PLO has had its headquarters in Tunis following its US-negotiated departure from Beirut in 1982. Force 17, whose mission is to protect PLO officials, is also reportedly in Tunis and has been linked to anti-Israel terrorist operations.
Regional Assessments: Latin America
The incidence of international terrorism in Latin America dropped by 32 percent in 1987, down from 159 incidents in 1986 to 108 in 1987. The United States remained a major target. Out of the 108 incidents, 71 were directed against US interests, a figure that represented 48 percent of all anti-US attacks throughout the world. Bombings accounted for 70 percent of these attacks; the remainder consisted of arson, armed attacks, sabotage, and other types of low-level violence. Although the attacks resulted in substantial property damage, they caused no deaths of US citizens and injured only seven.
The attacks against foreigners generally were carried out by indigenous insurgent groups seeking to overthrow established regimes. The United States has become a major target because of its substantial economic presence and political influence in Latin America and its symbolic position as the engine of capitalism. The United States attracted terrorist attacks even in the religious field. Twenty Mormon churches in the Dominican Republic and Chile were firebombed because of their alleged role in spreading US political and economic influence.
As in the past two years, Peru, Colombia, and Chile incurred the greatest number of international terrorist attacks, with 70 of the 108 attacks in Latin America. The year also saw a sharp, if numerically small, increase in attacks resulting in minor damage in the Dominican Republic. Two minor attacks occurred in El Salvador and four in Honduras; none occurred in Guatemala.
In general, we believe that the decrease in the number of attacks in Latin America against US and other foreign targets may only be temporary and most likely reflects improved security measures by governments and private companies, as well as changes in the tactics of some insurgent groups involved in terrorism.
Like other countries in Latin America, Chile experienced a sharp decline in international terrorist attacks during the year, from 28 attacks in 1986 to 15 in 1987. Ten of the attacks were directed at US targets, compared with 23 such incidents in 1986. We believe that the extreme leftist Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) was the chief instigator of the attacks. The group’s activities were inhibited by intensified police and security service pressure that continued throughout 1987. The FPMR remained a potent organization, however, as it demonstrated in September by holding a Chilean police colonel hostage for three months before releasing him in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The FPMR was especially active in the second half of the year, perpetrating a wave of domestic terrorist attacks against police and military targets.
The attacks against US interests were minor and did not cause serious casualties. They included one molotov cocktail thrown at the US Consulate in Santiago and eight firebombings of Mormon churches.
During 1987, a special military prosecutor continued investigations into several terrorist actions that took place the previous year, including the August 1986 discovery of large caches of military arms apparently smuggled from Cuba in support of the FPMR, and the September 1986 assassination attempt on President Pinochet. Although these investigations resulted in the arrests of significant numbers of people, the investigations have also been marred by questionable legal procedures on the part of the military prosecutor.
Rightwing terrorist groups, such as the Chilean Anti Communist Action Group (ACHA), the September 11 Command, and the Nationalist Combat Front (FNC), operate with apparent impunity. The failure to apprehend any of the members of these groups involved in terrorist actions has led to speculation that the actions may be unofficially sanctioned by some officials in the security forces.
During 1987 the US Government, in a series of diplomatic notes, urged the Chilean Government to bring to justice two former high-ranking Chilean Army officers indicted by a US federal grand jury in connection with the Letelier-Moffitt murders committed in Washington, D.C., in 1976. The Chilean Government refused and the two indicted men remain free and at large in Chile.
The decline in international terrorism in Peru—down from 59 attacks in 1986 to 41 in 1987—does not reflect the true level of considerable violence there. Certainly the danger to US interests remained high: 23 of the international incidents were directed against US diplomatic or business personnel or facilities. Although the number of domestic terrorist incidents in Peru rose only slightly over the 1986 figure, more than 600 people were killed in the violence.
Although many international terrorist attacks in 1987 went unclaimed, two groups in particular remain of major concern. Sendero Luminoso (SL) expanded its activities into new operational areas during 1987 and, of particular concern to the international community, continued to build a dedicated infrastructure in Lima to support terrorism. While primarily focused on Peruvian targets, SL continued to attack foreign interests, especially transnational corporations, as part of its campaign to attract more publicity to its cause, drive away tourists, discourage foreign investment, and otherwise disrupt the economy.
The largely urban-based Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), although much smaller than the SL, concentrates its attacks on foreign targets, especially the United States. It generally conducts its attacks on holidays or at night to minimize casualties. This group has received training in Cuba.
The government has responded to these terrorist threats primarily through enforcement measures Several important arrests were made, including those of high-ranking members of MRTA.
The authorities were unable to weaken the SL, however, and it appears to have expanded its area of influence into coca-producing regions as well as other areas.
Judicial efforts against terrorism moved slowly, among other reasons because of a large backlog of cases pending before the courts. In 1987, fewer than 50 persons were convicted of terrorism.
Fifteen persons accused of the June 1986 bombing of the Cuzco train station, in which two Americans were killed and several wounded, were being tried at the end of 1987.
The institutions of the democratic government of Colombia are under attack by four major guerrilla groups, all of which use terrorism and have received training and arms from Cuba and aid from Nicaragua and reportedly from Libya. Narcotics traffickers also employ terrorist tactics against anyone who threatens their interests.
Despite considerable domestic terrorism, insurgency, and narcotics-related violence, Colombia saw a major decline in the number of international terrorist attacks in 1987—19 as compared with 50 in 1986. Nearly all these attacks were committed against multinational oil company facilities—most with US affiliation—by the National Liberation Army (ELN), one of Colombia’s four main insurgent groups. ELN’s aim, like that of the Sendero Luminoso in Peru, is to undermine foreign investment and otherwise erode the country’s economy.
In October, Colombia’s main insurgent groups formed a new alliance, the Simon Bolivar Guerrilla Coordinator, under the leadership of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The coalition was established to provide a unified political and guerrilla front and we are concerned that it might be used to coordinate terrorist attacks against foreign interests.
Although in early 1988 the government moved to implement a new antiterrorist law under state-of-siege powers, in 1987 its response was largely reactive and piecemeal. In certain areas, the government had ceded freedom to the guerrillas and for the most part failed to deliver any significant blow against guerrilla or terrorist groups. In June, the Colombian Supreme Court struck down the implementing legislation for the 1979 bilateral extradition treaty with the United States.
Colombia has received US military as well as antiterrorism training and equipment.
The Ecuadorian Government has taken a strong public stand against terrorism and, with US and other foreign assistance, has successfully contained a small urban terrorist group, “Alfaro Vive, Carajo” (AVC), which first surfaced in 1983. AVC has received support from Colombia’s M-19 and from Cuba.
Although weakened, the AVC is still capable of violent and coordinated action. The government’s counterterrorist capabilities have been strengthened through increasingly sophisticated police techniques and training. During 1987, the government took advantage of several US antiterrorism training opportunities.
Panama’s geographical position has made it a crossroads for travel and a site for transactions for various terrorist and insurgent groups.
Much of this activity is facilitated by the Cuban and Nicaraguan Embassies and the Libyan Peoples’ Bureau in Panama. It is mainly transient and is not supported or condoned by the Panamanian Government. Congressional testimony, however, implicated some Panamanian officials, including General Noriega, the chief of the Panamanian Defense Forces, in the shipment of arms to such groups as Colombia’s M-19 guerrillas and El Salvador’s Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).
The leader of the FMLN’s political arm has resided in Panama for a number of years and has carried out activities there in support of the FMLN, apparently with the acquiescence of the Panamanian Government.
Various armed guerrilla groups, most trained and armed by the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, carried out violent subversive and terrorist actions in Honduras in 1987.
Four international terrorist attacks took place in Honduras—one of them an attack against US interests—as opposed to none in 1986. The most serious incident was the bombing of a restaurant in Comayagua that was known to be frequented by US servicemen stationed at Honduras’s Palmerola Airbase. Five US servicemen, a US civilian contractor, and six Hondurans were injured. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Honduran leftists are suspected.
Honduran authorities arrested five suspects shortly after the restaurant bombing. The five retracted their confessions in court, however, and were released due to lack of evidence. A sixth suspect found asylum in the Mexican Embassy in Tegucigalpa and, despite repeated US objections, eventually departed for Mexico.
In order to upgrade its counterterrorism capabilities, the Honduran armed forces have participated in the US antiterrorism assistance program.
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), comprised of five predominantly Marxist-Leninist insurgent groups, continues to employ terror tactics against Salvadorans as part of its overall strategy The government’s response has primarily been through military and police measures.
In October 1987, the government enacted a law designed to promote national reconciliation, which provided amnesty to those convicted or charged with “political crimes.” Because of the broad definition given to such crimes, however, the law resulted in the courts’ releasing individuals convicted of death squad crimes as well as several hundred suspected members of the FMLN who were either convicted of or pending prosecution for terrorist crimes—including the three accused gunmen responsible for the June 1985 killing of four members of the US Embassy’s Marine Guard contingent at a sidewalk cafe in San Salvador.
At year’s end, the Salvadoran Government planned to appeal several of the amnesty rulings made by the courts.
Some neighboring countries have criticized Mexico for giving asylum or sanctuary to insurgents and alleged terrorists. Mexico insists, however, that individuals given political asylum must abide by international norms.
Mexico has allowed the Salvadoran Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the Revolutionary Democratic Front (FDR) to establish an information office in Mexico City. The El Salvador Government has charged that these groups are using Mexico as an operational base. Mexico responded that it follows a policy of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries and that the FMLN-FDR members remain in Mexico as political asylees.
In 1987, Mexico granted asylum to approximately 10 Hondurans, most of them members of the Popular Revolutionary Forces-Lorenzo Zelaya. One was allegedly involved in a restaurant bombing in Honduras in which several US servicemen were injured. Although the United States objected, the Mexicans argued that he had not been charged in Honduras and that there was insufficient evidence to deny him asylum.
Mexico justifies this granting of asylum by citing the Central American-wide amnesty decree that is a part of the Guatemalan peace accord.
In December 1987, Mexico signed and its Congress ratified a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States. Following US Senate ratification and entry into force of the Treaty, Mexico and the United States will be obligated to cooperate in the prosecution of transborder criminals, including terrorists, through information sharing, taking of testimony of witnesses, and other measures.
The Dominican Republic
In April 1987, an unknown group, the Maximilio Gomez Revolutionary Brigade, claimed responsibility for several crude bomb attacks against Mormon church buildings. This group also claimed responsibility for throwing a crude bomb at the Peace Corps office on 30 April, resulting in superficial damage. The group said the attacks were to commemorate the anniversary of the US military intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965.
The Haitian Liberation Organization (OLH), a group that believes in the use of terrorism, first surfaced in February. OLH did not commit any international terrorist attacks in 1987, but is believed to be associated with a leftist political party, the Parti National Democratique Progressiste D’Haiti. Both have ties to Cuba and the OLH may receive other outside support.
Regional Assessments: Europe and North America
In Western Europe, domestic and Middle Eastern groups staged 152 international terrorist attacks in 1987—a slight drop from the 1986 figure of 156 attacks. Eighteen percent of all attacks worldwide took place in Western Europe, compared with 20 percent in 1986. The preferred means of attack remained roughly the same: 63 percent were bombings, 22 percent were armed attacks, and 10 percent were arson attacks. Thirty-six attacks, or 24 percent, were staged against US interests, and, of these, 24 were bombings. US casualty figures in Western Europe were low: one person killed and 36 wounded. A breakdown of the 152 international terrorist incidents shows that 44 went unclaimed, 43 resulted from Middle East spillover, and the rest were committed by a variety of European-based ideological or separatist groups. Separatist terrorism remained by far the most persistent and dangerous. Given the intensity of emotions and at least some community support from the ethnic communities from which the terrorists come, separatist terrorism undoubtedly will continue and may well increase.
The leveling off in the number of incidents in Western Europe can be attributed to a combination of factors: caution exercised by state sponsors of terrorism, leading to a major decrease in Middle Eastern spillover terrorism; enhanced physical security; successes by law enforcement and security agencies; and increased cooperation among counterterrorism officials in Western Europe.
Although no major incidents of international terrorism occurred in 1987, Canada has taken steps to combat domestic terrorism, particularly following incidents in the mid-1980s involving Sikhs and Armenians. The British Colombia Provincial Supreme Court in February 1987, for example, found guilty the four Sikhs accused of the 1986 assassination attempt of a visiting Indian official.
Canada cooperated actively with the US and other countries during 1987 to prevent terrorism at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. The US and Canada signed an agreement in January 1988 to formalize bilateral counterterrorism efforts. Canada decided not to open an embassy in Libya and declined to accept a Libyan diplomatic presence in Ottawa. It also applied strict limitations on Libyan trade.
The United Kingdom
Four international terrorist attacks took place in the United Kingdom in 1987, the same as in 1986. None was directed against US interests, and three of the four involved attacks against Middle Eastern exiles.
Domestic terrorism by Northern Ireland organizations remained the most lethal. Sectarian violence in Northern Ireland claimed 93 lives in 1987, up from 62 in 1986, but deaths among the terrorists themselves accounted for most of the increase. The Provisional Irish Republic Army (PIRA) lost 22 operatives, including eight killed in a failed attack on a police station and two killed when the bomb they were carrying exploded. An internecine feud in the Irish National Liberation Army resulted in 10 deaths. Twenty-seven members of the security forces were killed, and 283 civilians and security personnel were wounded.
The image of PIRA as a deadly terrorist group unconcerned about innocent bystanders was reinforced in November when one of its units detonated a bomb during a British veteran’s day ceremony in Enniskillen, killing 11 persons and wounding 70. The bombing received wide international condemnation, but a PIRA spokesman told the press later that the incident would not hinder PIRA’s plans to increase its attacks against British targets during 1988.
As part of the effort to control the sectarian violence and terrorism in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland continued to improve security cooperation, which had been augmented by the 1985 Anglo-Irish agreement. UK authorities also concluded new arrangements with the Republic of Ireland for extradition.
Significant quantities of illegal arms destined for Northern Ireland terrorists were seized during the year. In October, French authorities seized a ship carrying 150 tons of Libyan-supplied arms destined for the IRA, although four earlier shipments had apparently slipped through during the previous two years. UK police and military also seized quantities of arms destined for Protestant paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland.
Some members of the large immigrant communities of Palestinians, Iranians, Sikhs, Iraqis, Tamils, and others have been involved in, or have been targets of, acts of terrorism. UK authorities have handled these problems through both normal police and judicial efforts, as well as through programs of cooperation with other countries to identify and apprehend terrorists and their supporters.
In 1987, legal proceedings continued against an American citizen extradited by the United States to the United Kingdom on charges stemming from involvement in IRA terrorist attacks. He was subsequently convicted of murder.
The United Kingdom grants no concessions to terrorists, and has been critical of other nations that have bargained with hostage takers and other terrorists. It works actively to enhance international counterterrorist cooperation through the Trevi group of interior ministers, the economic Summit Seven nations, and various groups within the UN. The United Kingdom has a strong bilateral relationship with the United States on counterterrorism measures and it continued in 1987 to offer assistance to other countries to help improve their capabilities.
The 47 international terrorist attacks in Spain in 1987, two less than in 1986, represented the highest total in Western Europe and the fourth highest in the world. The extent of terrorism in Spain reflects the abiding strength of radical separatist sentiment among Basques and Catalans. The First of October Antifascist Resistance Movement (GRAPO), an extreme leftist terrorist group implicated in past attacks on US and NATO facilities, remained inactive for the third straight year.
The Basque Fatherland and Liberty group (ETA) staged 21 of the 1987 attacks, 15 fewer than in 1986. As in 1986, most of ETA’s international attacks consisted of bombing French-owned businesses in Spain, especially car dealerships. The attacks reflected ETA’s anger at French authorities for denying ETA sanctuary and for cooperating with the Spanish Government. Several of the bombings caused casualties in addition to property damage. Three persons were killed, including two Spanish policemen. In the past, most ETA attacks took place in small Basque cities and towns, but in 1987 the group expanded its activities into Catalonia, including Barcelona.
ETA’s domestic terrorist attacks showed a new propensity for causing indiscriminate casualties. A hardline Marxist Leninist faction took control of ETA following the death of the former leader in February. Since then, ETA has demonstrated a disregard for the safety of innocent civilians. For example, in June ETA staged its most lethal bombing attack, killing 21 shoppers in a crowded Barcelona supermarket, and in December it bombed the residences of several civil guard families, killing 11 persons, including women and children. An ETA bombing in June at a large petrochemical plant in Catalonia caused $10 million in damage and forced the evacuation of local citizens. We believe that Basque support for ETA dropped appreciably because of this campaign of indiscriminate violence.
Catalonian separatist groups turned increasingly to violence in 1987. One group of particular concern, the Catalan Red Liberation Army (ERCA), emerged in May with an ideology based on separatism and Marxist-Leninism. Its origins remain obscure; it may be a radical offshoot of Terra Lliure, another Catalonian terrorist group that has been active since 1981. Unlike other Catalonian groups, ERCA has deliberately attacked US interests and was probably responsible for bombings of the General Electric and Hewlett-Packard offices in Barcelona in May and June, respectively. In October, it claimed credit for bombing the US Consulate in Barcelona, which injured eight Spanish nationals, including two Consulate employees. Finally, ERCA was responsible for the only killing of a US citizen—a serviceman—by terrorists in Europe in 1987; the death occurred in a grenade attack on a USO facility in Barcelona over Christmas.
Terra Lliure increased its international terrorist attacks from three in 1986 to six in 1987. Most were low-grade bombings of foreign banks and travel agencies that caused only light property damage.
Iraultza, a small anti-NATO group composed of elements from the Basque Communist movement in Spain, carried out six international terrorist attacks in 1986, but staged only one in 1987—a bombing at the offices of the US-owned National Cash Register Company, which caused only minor damage.
On 15 April four crude and ineffective rockets were fired at US Embassy facilities in Madrid. All either malfunctioned or fell short of the intended target, causing only slight damage and no injuries. A caller claimed responsibility in the name of the International Front Against Imperialism in retaliation for the US air raids on Libya exactly one year earlier. The rockets used in the attacks were similar to those used in the Rome incidents in June and to those fired at the US Embassy in Madrid in February. We assume that the same group, the Japanese Red Army-linked Anti-Imperialist International Brigade, was responsible in each case.
Spain has developed a counterterrorism policy that includes efficient police enforcement, rehabilitation of terrorists not wanted for “blood crimes” who voluntarily turn themselves in, and increased multilateral and bilateral cooperation to fight terrorism.
Since the 1970s, many ETA militants have sought refuge and a base of operations in France for attacks in Spain. Following greater cooperation between the two countries within the past few years, however, France has expelled many of these individuals, who were subsequently prosecuted in Spain.
In 1987 alone, over 150 suspected Basque terrorists were expelled from France, including several reputed top leaders. In December 1987, the two governments announced the formation of a permanent police liaison office to further strengthen antiterrorist cooperation.
Spanish police action in 1987 put out of action 12 of ETA’s major operational units (commandos). Police scored a further success in the April arrests in Barcelona of five members of the Italian Red Brigades.
In addition, the government sponsored a domestic antiterrorism pact that was signed by all major Spanish political parties in November.
During 1987, Spain’s tough antiterrorism law was challenged in the courts on constitutional grounds. The Spanish Government has announced it will repeal the law, but will incorporate most of its provisions into the ordinary criminal code.
Also in 1987, Spanish authorities expelled two Libyans for their involvement in the Movement for the Liberation of the Canary Islands and two Syrian nationals believed to have been involved with the Abu Musa terrorist organization.
Nowhere in Europe was the contrast between 1987 and the previous year sharper than in France. International terrorist attacks dropped from 28 to 11, and anti-US incidents declined from three to one. Both domestic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups experienced major setbacks. Twice during the year, French authorities achieved major successes against the country’s bloodiest domestic terrorist group, Action Directe (AD), which had been responsible for a series of international and domestic attacks from 1983 through 1986 and which has ties to West Germany’s Red Army Faction. In February, police arrested the four leaders of AD’s international wing in a farmhouse near Orleans and charged them with the 1986 murder of Renault President Georges Besse. In November. the police arrested AD’s bomb expert Max Frerot, the last major suspect known to have been at large and a member of AD’s so-called nationalist wing. Frerot allegedly was the instigator of at least two attacks in 1986, for which he is expected to be tried in 1988. AD, which was crippled by these arrests, committed no international terrorist attacks during 1987.
In the Middle East terrorist arena, French authorities in March seized several Tunisians with Iranian links who had been tasked with transporting and storing weapons and explosives for use by Lebanese Shia terrorists. As reported in the press, French police claimed that the group had been responsible for a terrorist bombing campaign in Paris in 1986. In November, the group’s ringleader was charged with seven of the 11 attacks in the campaign; other members may be tried in 1988. Corsican National Liberation Front terrorists—who we believe have adopted a more radical political program and a more lethal terrorist strategy—carried out five small-scale bombings against foreign-owned vacation homes on Corsica. The group also was responsible for more than 70 domestic attacks against French business and government targets on Corsica and in Paris and Marseilles.
Over 150 suspected Basque terrorists, most of them members of the Spanish terrorist group ETA, were expelled or extradited to Spanish authorities during 1987. The expulsions of suspected terrorists, which also included fugitive Italian, German, and Irish terrorists, was accomplished by reactivating a 1945 emergency procedure permitting expulsions without hearings when the public order is threatened.
France’s determination to prevent terrorists from using its territory to ship arms was demonstrated by the October 1987 seizure of a cargo vessel carrying over 150 tons of Libyan-supplied weapons to the Provisional Irish Republican Army.
The French courts in 1987 dealt sternly with terrorists, partially because of new legislation centralizing all terrorism cases in the Paris state prosecutor’s office and creating a special court for terrorist trials.
In an important case in February, the head of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction (LARF), Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the assassination of two US and Israeli diplomats in 1982, and the attempted assassination of a US Consulate official in 1984. The United States participated in the case as a “partie civile.”
France’s successful counterterrorism record in 1987 was blemished, however, at the conclusion of the so-called “Embassy War” in which an Iranian Embassy employee was suspected of aiding the terrorists responsible for the 1986 Paris bombing campaign. The suspect took refuge in the Iranian Embassy in Paris and the Iranian Government retaliated by blockading the French Embassy in Tehran.
A five-month standoff ended when France and Iran arranged for the departure of the Iranian employee and the French diplomats. Before the departure, a French Embassy official, despite his diplomatic immunity, appeared before a revolutionary tribunal in Tehran while the Iranian, who did not have immunity, appeared before a judge in Paris.
Shortly thereafter, in November—although French officials have denied any link—pro-Iranian terrorists in Lebanon released two French hostages. The French Government also scheduled for repayment a portion of a multimillion-dollar debt owed to prerevolutionary Iran that had been disputed by the two countries for several years. It expelled Iranian dissidents living in France, although they were allowed to return following domestic pressure. In addition, persistent rumors of arms sales to Iran led to criticism of France for having made concessions to terrorists.
Following a mid-1980s’ bombing campaign by the indigenous Euroterrorist group, the Communist Combatant Cells (CCC), Belgian law enforcement and antiterrorism procedures were restructured to meet the threat. Since the late 1985 arrests of the major CCC leaders, terrorism has markedly declined.
Two terrorist incidents were directed at the official Syrian presence in Belgium during 1987: an attempted bombing of the Embassy in February and the assassination of one of their diplomats in October. The so-called People’s Mujahedin claimed responsibility for the latter incident.
As president of the European Community during the first half of 1987, Belgium helped improve antiterrorist information sharing and cooperation among the community members.
The number of international terrorist attacks in West Germany in 1987 was 24, one less than in 1986. The attacks were perpetrated by a variety of groups. Nine attacks were by Kurds against Turks or other Kurds, with the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) the chief culprit. Three were aimed at Iranian dissidents, presumably by Iranian Government agents or proxies, and one involved an attack by Iranian dissidents against an Iranian Government facility. Six attacks were staged against US targets, compared with 16 for 1986. Although several of the anti-US attacks went unclaimed, we believe that most were the work of leftwing terrorist groups; one attack may have been carried out by a neo-Nazi group.
No US casualties resulted from the attacks, although there were several near misses. In August, for instance, a bomb was detonated underneath a German freight train near the town of Hademlenden, causing damage but no injuries. The bomb was probably intended for a US troop train that was scheduled to pass over the track at the time of the explosion. Similarly, in December a local Bremen commuter train was slightly damaged when it collided with a barrier on the track. This crude attempt at derailment was probably directed at a US military train that had stopped on a parallel track at the same time.
Another illustration of the wide range of international terrorist attacks in West Germany occurred in March with the explosion of a large car bomb outside the officers’ club at a British Army base at Rheindahlen. Although they were not the intended victims, 27 West German military officers and their wives were wounded in the attack. The Provisional Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the bombing, which demonstrated the group’s ability to operate outside the United Kingdom and Ireland and its willingness to risk incidental victims.
International attacks by domestic terrorist groups declined significantly in 1987. The Red Army Faction (RAF) was inactive in 1987. We believe that RAF operational plans were disrupted by the arrest of the leaders of the Action Directe (AD) group in France in February. Documents seized by French authorities during the arrest revealed that the AD and the RAF had been planning coordinated attacks for 1987, possibly similar in scope to the so-called anti-imperialist campaign of 1984-85. Despite its recent inactivity, the RAF remains dangerous.
The other important domestic group is the Revolutionary Cells (RZ). Together with an affiliated feminist group called Rote Zora, RZ staged a series of terrorist attacks during 1987, most of which were low-grade bombing and arson attacks against official and nonofficial targets.
In January 1987, German authorities at Frankfurt airport apprehended Mohammed Hamadei, one of the alleged participants in the 1985 TWA hijacking in which a US Navy diver was murdered. As the United States was requesting Hamadei’s extradition, terrorists in Lebanon kidnaped two German citizens in an attempt to extort West Germany to release Hamadei or, at a minimum, not to extradite him to the United States.
West Germany in June decided not to extradite but to try Hamadei, as permitted under the terms of our extradition treaty. The German authorities have given assurances Hamadei will be prosecuted to the full extent of German law. The court case is expected to begin in mid-1988. In September, one of the two German hostages held in Beirut was released, reportedly after a German company had paid ransom for him. The second German kidnap victim remained a hostage in Lebanon at the end of the year.
In late 1987, German authorities began the prosecution of Abbas Hamadei, the brother of Mohammed, who was arrested in a separate incident in January 1987. Abbas was charged with bringing explosives into the country and seeking to coerce the federal government into releasing his brother Mohammed by participating in the hostage taking in Beirut. Abbas was subsequently convicted in 1988 and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
In 1987, West Germany granted agrement to Mehdi Ahari Mostafavi, then Iranian Ambassador to Austria, as Tehran’s new Ambassador to Bonn. The United States, which did not learn of the pending appointment until after West Germany’s formal acceptance of Mostafavi, then expressed strong concerns about the decision, providing West Germany with information pointing to Mostafavi’s involvement in the holding of American diplomats hostage in Tehran during 1979-80. West Germany, however, did not reverse its decision to accept Mostafavi as Iranian Ambassador.
A Frankfurt court in late 1987 sentenced a neo-Nazi terrorist, accused of conspiracy in the 1982 car bombing that seriously injured a US soldier, to a ten-and-a-half-year prison term.
In 1987 the United States, the United Kingdom, and France—the Western Allied Powers in Berlin—actively exercised the public security responsibilities they have maintained in that city since the end of World War II. The allies issued expulsion orders against a total of 19 individuals associated with either the Iranian Consulate General in the US sector of Berlin or the Iranian Embassy in the Soviet sector. This move effectively closed down the Iranian Consulate General in Berlin (West).
Berlin prosecutors have continued their investigations into the April 1986 La Belle disco bombing in which two people died, including one US serviceman.
Although the Swiss Government generally supports increased international counterterrorism cooperation, Switzerland’s situation as an international diplomatic, financial, business, and transportation center with relatively relaxed entry controls, makes it easy for terrorists to transit the country. Major terrorist groups may also use Swiss banks and medical facilities.
In July, the Swiss released a suspected Lebanese terrorist wanted by France in connection with a 1986 Paris bombing. The extradition request had been rejected because the French offense of belonging to a criminal group does not exist under Swiss law.
The Lebanese hijacker of a July 1987 Air Afrique flight that had made an unscheduled landing in Geneva remained in detention. The hijacker, who killed a French citizen before being overpowered by the crew and arrested by Swiss authorities, will be tried by a special federal court for air piracy and murder.
The head of the Iranian Embassy in Bern, Seyed Mohammad Hossein Malaek, has been identified as a leader of the participants in the 1979-81 occupation of the US Embassy in Tehran. The Swiss Government in early 1988 accepted Malaek’s accreditation as Ambassador even though the United States had expressed deep concern about the accreditation.
In November 1987, Swiss authorities expelled three Libyans believed to be plotting the assassination of anti-Qadhafi dissidents. Despite an extensive manhunt in August, police were unable to apprehend the assassins of a former Iranian pilot who had been living in exile in Geneva.
Italy experienced six international terrorist incidents in 1987, compared with four such attacks in 1986. During 1987 Italy achieved substantial success against its major domestic terrorist group, the Red Brigades (BR). Once the largest and most dangerous group in continental Europe, the BR has not attacked a foreign target since the assassination in 1984 of Leamon R. Hunt, the US chief of the Sinai Multinational Force and Observer Group. Nevertheless, the BR—now split into two groups—remains capable of carrying out terrorist attacks. In February, the BR’s Fighting Communist Party (BR-PCC) faction killed three policemen while robbing a postal van of almost $1 million. The other faction, the Union of Communist Combatants (BR-UCC), assassinated Italian Gen. Licio Giorgieri, who was involved in defense procurement.
The murder of General Giorgieri heightened cooperation among West European police and security services. By June the murderers and almost 60 other members of the BR-UCC had been arrested in Italy, Spain, and France, severely damaging the group’s operating capabilities. We believe that the BR’s total membership is at its lowest since the group was formed in the late 1960s.
Three almost simultaneous attacks in Rome in June were the most significant international terrorist incidents, although they caused only superficial damage. They consisted of a car bombing and two crude rocket attacks against the US and British Embassies. The attacks were probably designed to gain publicity before the Summit Seven international conference in Venice. A group calling itself the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB) claimed responsibility. The AIIB first surfaced in two attacks against the US and Canadian Embassies in Jakarta in 1986, and we believe that it is a front for, or has close links to, the Japanese Red Army. US investigators, working under the terms of a bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty, were able to collect evidence on the US Embassy attack.
As a counterterrorism measure, Italy successfully tightened the security of its borders. In January, Lebanese national Bashir Khodr was arrested at Milan’s airport while attempting to smuggle plastic explosives and detonators into the country. One month later, he was tried and sentenced to a 13-year prison term.
In December, the surviving Abu Nidal organization terrorist who had participated in the December 1985 airport massacre in Rome was brought before the courts. The trial, which was not completed until early 1988, ended with the terrorist being sentenced to 30 years in prison. Abu Nidal (Sabri al-Banna) and a third accomplice also received life sentences in absentia.
Throughout 1987, Italy sustained sanctions against Libya agreed upon by the European Community the previous year. It also joined in cooperative measures against Syria for that nation’s connection to terrorism.
Motivated in part by the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking, the Italian Government pressed for the drafting of a new “Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation” under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization. This agreement was signed in February 1988.
In May 1987, Austria responded through the courts to the December 1985 Abu Nidal organization attack on Vienna airport in which three died and 39 were injured. The two surviving terrorists were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, the maximum sentence.
The would-be assassin in a May 1987 attack on a former Libyan Ambassador and Qadhafi critic was facing trial at the end of the year. Although the assassin apparently had been supported by the Libyan People’s Bureau in Vienna, the Austrian Government took no action in limiting or closing that office after its involvement became known. In early 1988, however, the assailant was convicted and sentenced to a 10-year prison term.
In 1987, the Austrian Government negotiated an antiterrorism pact with the Saudi Arabian Government. It also established an antiterrorism unit directly subordinated to the Ministry of Interior.
The trial of the surviving terrorist in the November 1985 Egyptair 648 hijacking, Ali Rezak, is expected to begin by late summer 1988. The Maltese Government remains publicly committed to the trial. A US citizen was killed and two wounded in the hijacking.
The police are responsible for border control, but immigration procedures are limited. Citizens of several countries, including Libya, do not need visas to enter Malta. Moreover, in a recent agreement, Libyans can enter Malta by showing a Libyan identification card in lieu of a passport. A large number of Libyans visited in 1987.
Malta has an active commercial relationship with Libya, including several resident joint Libyan-Maltese commercial and other ventures that could be exploited for terrorist purposes. As an example, the Eksund II, a freighter captured by French authorities in October 1987 with over 150 tons of arms destined for the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), underwent extensive refurbishing in Malta before sailing to Libya. Although Maltese authorities say they had no prior knowledge of Libyan intentions for the Eksund, and the ship left empty, no complaint appeared to have been made about Libyan misuse of Maltese territory.
The pro-Western government, elected in May 1987, on the heels of 16 years of rule by overtly pro-Libyan Labor governments, has said that it strongly opposes terrorism and will not make its foreign policy “congruent” with that of any other government.
Eleven international terrorist attacks were staged in Greece in 1987, the same number as in 1986. Six were directed at US interests, one less than 1986. Most anti-US attacks were undertaken by extreme leftist organizations protesting the presence in Greece of US military bases. The Revolutionary People’s Struggle (ELA) staged two bombings of US interests in Athens, causing only property damage: one against a Union Carbide office in April and the other against a US military commissary in September. The 17 November Revolutionary Organization staged two bombing attacks against buses transporting US military personnel in April and August, respectively, injuring a total of 17 persons. The two attacks obviously were intended to cause substantial US casualties and represent a change in tactics, which had consisted largely of selective assassinations of US officials and prominent Greek officials and businessmen.
Leftist terrorist groups also stepped up their attacks against Greek Government targets. One bombing attack against the Greek Chamber of Commerce building in Athens, for instance, clearly was designed to cause large numbers of official casualties. Greek police, as did their colleagues in France and Italy, had some successes against domestic terrorist groups, killing one and capturing two suspected Greek terrorists in October. The police then seized several safehouses and weapons caches and unearthed evidence showing possible ties between ELA, 17 November, and other extreme leftwing groups. Greek authorities have continued efforts to improve security at airports and seaports, improve surveillance of suspected terrorists, and enhance capabilities of the antiterrorist police.
The Greek Government condemns state-sponsored terrorism generally, but is alone among the 12 members of the European Community in refusing to condemn by name specific states that sponsor terrorism. In publicly spelling out its unified approach to such terrorism issues, the Greek Government spokesman stated that Greece will insist on tangible and convincing evidence of a country’s “guilt,” not participate in making up a list of “terrorist countries” as long as such a list would constitute a prelude to actions that would undermine Greece’s relations with those countries, and not give up its sovereign right to decide for itself what specific measures it should take whenever measures against a “terrorist country” are decided.
Throughout 1987, the United States and Greece maintained an active official dialogue on all aspects of terrorism-related issues, including a well-publicized exchange concerning Abu Nidal organization activities. As part of the continuing dialogue, the United States seeks to assist, where appropriate, the Greek Government in its technical counterterrorism efforts. A Greek Government delegation visited the United States in October for consultations on antiterrorism assistance. In its dialogue with Greece the US Government has conveyed the depth of its concern on terrorism issues whereas the United States has been made aware of Greek sensitivities.
Eighteen international terrorist attacks were staged in Turkey in 1987, an increase of 13 over 1986. Three were against US targets. At least three were committed by the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) as part of its continuing campaign to establish an autonomous Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey. In 1987, the PKK expanded the range of its attacks, normally directed at the Turkish security forces, to include civilians and economic targets. Attacks on several Turkish villages in southeastern Turkey, some probably staged from PKK strongholds in neighboring Iraq and Syria, were designed both to discourage the Turkish villagers from participating in government security programs and to encourage Kurdish community support for the group. The arrest of a group of PKK members in Istanbul in November suggests that the PKK may have been planning to establish an urban terrorist infrastructure.
Turkey has instituted strong police countermeasures and has scored successes against the PKK, as well as against various other terrorist groups.
In March, several Islamic Jihad activists were arrested for attempting to bring over 200 pounds of explosives into the country to use against US and other interests.
Although Syrian and Turkish leaders signed a new border control agreement in July in which Syrian support for anti Turkish Kurdish terrorism was to be stopped, Turkish authorities subsequently intercepted several terrorists trying to enter Turkey from Syria.
In 1987, the courts actively pursued terrorist cases. A naturalized Turk of Iranian origin was convicted of treason for working with the Abu Nidal terrorist group. A Jordanian Embassy employee was implicated in the case, but later released because of diplomatic immunity. A Syrian diplomat was implicated in another case involving Abu Nidal terrorists, but left the country before the trial began. The Turk has been charged with attempting to set up a Shia liberated zone in southeastern Turkey. An Iranian consular official was asked to leave the country in connection with this case.
Turkish authorities have instituted procedures—protested by some governments—for examining unclassified diplomatic pouches in order to stop shipment of weapons and other terrorist materials into the country.
Its location between Europe and the Middle East makes Cyprus a regular transit point for terrorists. Cypriot authorities have a consistent record of investigating terrorist crimes and prosecuting those involved. A swift investigation, for example, followed the attempted ambush in April of a British Army jeep in which a serviceman and a dependent were injured. Three Arab suspects were arraigned in May. Two were convicted in January 1988 and were sentenced to seven and nine-year prison terms respectively, while the third was ordered deported.
The Cypriot Government has responded favorably to offers of antiterrorism training and technical assistance.
Yugoslavia’s location between the Middle East and Western Europe, open frontiers, heavy cross-border traffic, large Arab student population, and relatively open society have made it an attractive safehaven and transit point for terrorists.
Yugoslavia has reciprocal arrangements with 55 countries, allowing visa-free entry. Some of these countries, including Iran, have been identified as supporters of terrorism. The large foreign student population in Yugoslavia includes 15,000 from Middle Eastern countries. Some of these are believed to be members of terrorist groups, including the Abu Nidal organization. They reportedly use their student status as a cover to maintain safehouses and provide operational support for transiting terrorists.
The Yugoslav Government is aware of the misuse of Yugoslav territory by some terrorist groups and is currently considering measures to tighten control over the entry and stay of foreigners. These measures include the possible reintroduction of visa requirements for some countries, tightening of entry procedures, additional training for security officers, and stricter control over the activities of foreign students.
The most serious misuse of Yugoslavian territory occurred in November, when the North Korean terrorists responsible for the destruction of Korean Air Lines Flight 858 received the bomb used to destroy the aircraft from another North Korean agent in Belgrade.
Reports in the press in 1987 claimed that Khalid Abdel Nasser, whom Egyptian authorities have charged with terrorist activities, and Middle Eastern terrorist leader “Colonel” Hawari, as well as members of his organization, were living in Yugoslavia. Later reports suggested that the government was no longer prepared to tolerate the presence of the latter group.
Yugoslavia has a military sales relationship with some countries that are identified as supporters of terrorism, such as Libya and Iran. There is no evidence, however, that Yugoslavia knows that such weapons are to be used for terrorist purposes.
Regional Assessments: Asia
The number of international incidents in Asia in 1987 (170) grew by 121 percent over that of 1986 (77). Virtually all of the increase occurred in Pakistan. Developments elsewhere in Asia pose concern for 1988, such as: the insurgencies in the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka; the apparent reemergence of the Japanese Red Army; the terrorist activities of North Korean Government agents; and the tempting target represented by the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.
Most of the 138 international terrorist attacks recorded in 1987 in Pakistan were bombings directed against Afghan refugees and Pakistani civilians. The campaign was waged by the Afghan intelligence service, WAD, which is organized and advised by the Soviet Union. The 127 attacks conducted by WAD in 1987 represent the highest total attributable to a single state sponsor of terrorist group in any single year. Pakistan suffered the second highest total of attacks in 1987 after the Israel-Gaza Strip-West Bank area. Although casualties in other regions of the world were down substantially from the previous year, WAD attacks killed 234 persons and wounded 1,200—about half of all deaths and injuries from terrorist attacks worldwide.
The campaign started in 1985 with attacks directed against Afghan resistance and refugee camps in the border area. In 1986, the campaign expanded to include attacks on Pakistani civilians and, in 1987, spread beyond the border area to Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, and Karachi. The most brutal attack took place in July, when two car bombs in a crowded market in Karachi killed 70 persons and wounded more than 200 others.
Three of the WAD attacks were apparently aimed at US targets, but no US citizen was hurt and no property was damaged. The campaign generally has not been aimed at foreign interests, but the intensity and indiscriminate nature of the bombings, should they continue, represent a growing risk.
A handful of international terrorist attacks were also conducted by Iranian agents or local supporters of the Khomeini regime. Exiled Iranian dissidents and anti-Khomeini Pakistani religious and political figures were the target of several assassination attempts. In July, for instance, Iranian agents using automatic weapons and rocket launchers attacked Iranian dissidents in four separate houses in Karachi and one in Quetta. Some of the attackers were arrested; their disclosure of Iran’s intentions probably deterred Tehran from carrying out further attacks in 1987.
Pakistani authorities have initiated tough police enforcement measures against terrorism. According to Pakistani statistics, over 300 individuals were arrested in 1987 for subversive activities, including bombings and possession of explosives.
In mid-1987, a tightly guarded special court began the trial of five suspected Abu Nidal organization terrorists involved in the September 1986 hijacking attempt in Karachi of Pan Am Flight 73. More than 20 people died in this terrorist incident. The trial continued through the remainder of the year and into 1988. The five were subsequently convicted and sentenced to death in July 1988.
The Pakistani Government participates in the US antiterrorism assistance program. In 1987, nearly 100 students receive training.
Only two relatively minor international terrorist incidents took place in India during 1987. The first was a crude bomb attack on the United States Information Service (USIS) center in Calcutta by demonstrating radical members of the Congress (I) Party in August, and the other was an attempted bombing in September of the Nepalese Consulate General in Calcutta by the Bengal Liberation Army, in which the bomber was killed when the device exploded prematurely.
Sikh domestic violence, as in previous years, continued to pose the greatest terrorist threat. In 1987, the Sikhs carried out numerous armed attacks against government officials, Hindu civilians, and moderate Sikhs, but none against foreign targets.
The Sikhs did not stage any attacks overseas during the year, confining their activities to attempts to seize political control of temple complexes in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Where they were successful, Sikh militants used the temple organizations to raise money for and otherwise support their coreligionists in the Punjab. Whether their terrorist activities overseas become intensified will depend largely on the way the Indian Government is able to reconcile Sikh political demands with the overall need to maintain national stability.
The Indian Government’s response to domestic incidents of terror has focused on maintaining law and order. In the Punjab, extremists have been detained by the police using the extraordinary powers allowed by special legislation passed in 1987. The whole of the Punjab was also put under “President’s Rule” in 1987, placing all state enforcement authority under the central government.
In bilateral relations, Indian and Pakistani officials have met to discuss problems of controlling terrorism and smuggling along their long common border.
Two Sikh separatists charged with murder in India were being held in a US jail at the end of the year pending hearings on an Indian Government request for extradition.
Although no international terrorist attacks took place in Sri Lanka during 1987, the level of violence remained high. Insurgent attacks, including terrorist operations, by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continued throughout the year, even after the signing of the India-Sri Lanka peace accord in July. Under this agreement, at least 50,000 Indian troops were deployed to Sri Lanka. The LTTE guerrillas battled the Indian Peacekeeping Force as well as the Sri Lankan Government and Sinhalese civilians.
According to press reports, the Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka had previously received support—political, financial, and logistic—from elements within the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Under the July accord, India committed itself to ensure that Indian territory is not used for anti-Sri Lankan activities.
During 1987, another group, the previously proscribed Marxist Janatha Vimukhti Peramuna (JVP, or the People’s Liberation Front), added to the violence. Relatively nonviolent since its insurrection attempt in 1971, the JVP reemerged and started assassinating and kidnaping Sri Lankan Government officials, attacking police and military posts, and instigating student demonstrations. We believe that the JVP may have been responsible for the attempted assassination of President Jayewardene at a Cabinet meeting in August, an incident in which a junior minister was killed and several other senior officials were injured. The JVP has not staged any international terrorist incidents since it tried to bomb the US Embassy in 1971.
In the past years, the Republic of Korea has been the victim of several terrorist incidents instigated by North Korea. The November 1987 destruction of the South Korean airliner by a confessed North Korean agent in which 115 people were killed has heightened the concern of the South Korean Government about terrorism, especially in view of the coming 1988 Summer Olympics.
Bilateral consultations on counterterrorism held in Washington in September between the South Korean Government and the United States reinforced the arrangements for information sharing, training, and military preparedness. The United States has publicly stated its support for a safe and secure Olympics. The South Korean Government has also established a joint bimonthly committee with Japan to coordinate antiterrorism cooperation related to the Olympics.
Following the downing of the Korean airliner, South Korea stimulated a debate on North Korean terrorism in the UN Security Council and successfully moved a condemnatory resolution in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in early 1988.
No international terrorist attacks were staged in Japan in 1987. We are greatly concerned, however, over indications of a resurgence of the Japanese Red Army (JRA) as an active terrorist group. In May 1986, a group calling itself the Anti Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB), which we believe is closely linked to, if not part of, the JRA, staged crude rocket and car bomb attacks against the US, Canadian, and Japanese Embassies in Jakarta. In 1987, as described in the section on Western Europe, the same group claimed responsibility for similar attacks against Western embassies in Madrid and Rome.
None of the perpetrators of these attacks was captured, but in November 1987 Japanese police arrested Osamu Maruoka, a top JRA leader, at the Tokyo airport. According to his travel documents, Maruoka had been in and out of Japan several times in 1987 and had also visited Hong Kong and the Philippines. He was carrying a substantial amount of money, which suggests that he might have been establishing or servicing JRA cells in Asia. According to Japanese press reports, while in the Philippines Maruoka met with other JRA members and with members of the Communist New People’s Army. Even more worrisome, Maruoka possessed an airline ticket for a flight to Seoul on 7 December. He may have intended to set up a new cell there or to work with one already in existence to stage terrorist attacks in South Korea in conjunction with the Olympic Games in 1988. JRA terrorists might also mount attacks such as aircraft hijackings or the seizing of hostages to gain the release of Maruoka and other imprisoned JRA members.
The Chukaku-Ha (Middle Core Faction) and other radical leftist groups within Japan committed small-scale, politically motivated acts of sabotage, arson, and rocket-firing during the year but caused few casualties and little damage. The authorities have responded with efficient police enforcement measures.
The Japanese Government has taken a strong public stand against terrorism. It is a signatory of the Bonn declaration, an active participant in the annual deliberations at the economic summit of the major industrial nations, and consults with the United States in countering terrorism.
Following the destruction of the Korean airliner in November by two North Korean terrorists traveling on fraudulent Japanese passports, the Japanese Government joined the Republic of Korea and the United States in condemning North Korea. Japan also said it would establish a bilateral commission on counterterrorism cooperation with the Republic of Korea to focus on threats posed to the 1988 Olympics by terrorists based in Japan, using Japanese soil or posing as Japanese nationals. The decision reflects both governments’ concern about the possible threat posed by the Chosen Soren, a pro-North Korean ethnic Korean association in Japan, as well as the Japanese Red Army.
Nineteen international terrorist attacks occurred in the Philippines in 1987, as opposed to only nine in 1986. Thirteen of the attacks were aimed at US targets, causing three deaths.
The potential for international terrorism directed at US interests in the Philippines, however, is greater than the 1987 statistics indicate. The insurgency waged by the New People’s Army (NPA), the guerilla wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, entered a new phase in 1987 with the increased use of assassinations by Communist terror units called sparrows.
The most serious instance involving Americans took place on 26 October when, within the space of 15 minutes, teams of assassins killed two US servicemen, a former US serviceman, and a Filipino bystander in a series of attacks near Clark Airbase. After first issuing contradictory claims and denials, the NPA eventually took responsibility and then threatened further attacks on any American deemed involved in the government’s counterinsurgency effort.
On another front, dissatisfaction with the Manila Government over perceived failure to meet Filipino Muslim political demands could give both Libya and Iran an opportunity to exploit the situation by recruiting local Muslims to support possible terrorist activities, some of which might involved targeting US citizens or their property. Finally, members of the Abu Nidal organization and the Japanese Red Army were active during the year trying to form support cells among resident Middle Easterners and Japanese, respectively.
To date, the Philippine Government’s response to terrorism, both domestic and international, has predominantly been through enforcement measures. The government has increased police forces in urban areas where political assassinations have most often taken place and, with US assistance, undertaken a counterterrorism program at Manila’s international airport. The Philippine Government is planning an integrated counterinsurgency strategy involving civilian and military components that should reduce, over time, the threat from the Communist insurgency.
Although there are no known terrorist groups in Australia, the government has consistently taken strong stands against international terrorist acts:
- In May, it expelled the Libyan People’s Bureau in Canberra, following concerns about Libyan activities in Australia and in the South Pacific.
- In November, the government prosecuted an Armenian terrorist involved in the November 1986 bombing of the Turkish Consulate General in Melbourne. The terrorist was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Regional Assessments: Sub-Saharan Africa
Once again the total of international terrorist incidents in Sub-Saharan Africa remained by far the lowest in the world. Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for less than 4 percent of the attacks worldwide, 8 percent of the deaths (49 persons), and 6 percent of the wounded (136 persons). Despite an increase in the number of attacks from 20 in 1986 to 30 in 1987, we detected no significant trend in terrorism patterns. The 30 attacks occurred in 14 countries, and only Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Mozambique had three or more attacks. As in previous years, almost all international attacks in the region were committed by local insurgents. Foreigners, although sometimes deliberately selected as targets, were usually inadvertent victims or targets of opportunity.
Five terrorist attacks affected US interests in 1987, but only one of them—a Libyan-sponsored bombing in Chad in October—appeared to be deliberately targeted against US interests. In other attacks involving Americans, two missionaries were killed in a massacre in Zimbabwe, a tourist was wounded in a landmine explosion along the South African border, and four persons were kidnapped in two separate incidents in Mozambique and Sudan, although they were released unharmed within a few months.
Overall, the preferred types of international terrorist attack consisted of bombings, armed attacks, and kidnappings, in roughly equal proportions. The percentage of kidnappings was unusually high in comparison with other regions. Seven different insurgent groups kidnapped foreigners to gain publicity or extract ransom; most victims were released.
State-sponsored international terrorist attacks accounted for approximately one-third of all incidents. Terrorist sponsors in the region included Libya, which was responsible for three attacks. Four attacks, mainly bombings, were directed at suspected members or supporters of the African National Congress. Strong evidence points to a South African Government role in some of these incidents.
The March bombing of a restaurant frequented by French civilians and military was the most spectacular anti-Western Palestinian attack of the year. The bombing, which was probably perpetrated by terrorists from the Popular Struggle Front (PSF) with Libyan backing, killed 11 persons, including five French soldiers. The choice of a target in eastern Africa involving Westerners suggests that Palestinian terrorists may look for new operating venues outside the Middle East and Western Europe. One terrorist, a Tunisian, was apprehended by Djiboutian authorities and awaits prosecution.
Chad has long been the target of terrorist activities carried out or sponsored by Libya.
The only two terrorist incidents in 1987 had little success, however. A bridge in N’Djamena was slightly damaged in a bombing (the bomber himself was killed), and a building owned by a US relief agency in a provincial city was damaged in a bombing believed to be connected to Libya.
Chad’s success against Libyan terrorism has primarily resulted from the efforts of its security services, which have foiled several attempts to smuggle arms and explosives into the country.
The Central African Republic
The only aircraft hijacking during 1987 occurred on a flight that had originated in the Central African Republic. In July, a lone Lebanese Shia hijacker, who demanded freedom for a number of imprisoned Hizballan members and who may himself have belonged to the Hizballah, boarded an Air Afrique flight in Bangui armed with a pistol. After takeoff from Rome, the hijacker diverted the plane to Geneva and demanded that it be refueled and flown to Beirut. While the aircraft was grounded in Geneva, the hijacker shot and killed a French passenger before being overpowered. The hijacker may have received some support from Lebanese Shia living in the Central African Republic before he boarded the plane. The incident demonstrates that countries in western and central Africa, with their substantial Lebanese populations, lax security precautions, and an abundance of Western targets, may represent an attractive environment for terrorist groups—such as Hizballah—in search of new locales in which to carry out attacks against the West.
Central African Republic authorities with French help have attempted to improve airport security following the July 1987 hijacking. The government also has sent 29 participants to a terrorism analysis course funded by the US anti-terrorism assistance program.
Two suspects were detained in 1987 during an attempt to bring explosive devices into the country. Government authorities suspect that the two received the devices from the Libyan People’s Bureau in Cotonou, Benin.
During 1987, Mozambique suffered from major terrorism perpetrated by the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO). An April 1988 State Department report covering 1987 activities documents large-scale employment of terrorist violence against noncombatant civilian populations in an apparently coordinated pattern. In a widely publicized incident at Homoine in July 1987, for example, over 400 civilians were reportedly killed. In addition, RENAMO kidnaped scores of people in cross-border raids into Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia. Some of them were released after being forced to serve as porters, but others were reportedly killed or kept in captivity.
RENAMO insurgents kidnaped Western missionaries and aid workers on five separate occasions. One group of seven missionaries taken in May and released in August included a US citizen. At least four of the captives taken during 1987 remained in RENAMO hands as of May 1988.
Mozambique’s response to RENAMO has been political as well as military. Its government has allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross to make arrangements for the release of persons kidnaped by RENAMO. Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Malawi have assisted by stationing troops in Mozambique.
South Africa remains the principal supporter of RENAMO, although there is no evidence that the South African Government has a witting accomplice in the perpetration of massacres and the targeting of civilians. South Africa has also attacked suspected African National Congress (ANC) targets in Mozambique. In a South African commando raid on Maputo in May, three Mozambicans unconnected with the ANC were killed.
During 1987, Zambia experienced several incursions by RENAMO insurgents. South African commandos carried out attacks in April against alleged ANC facilities in the border town of Livingstone, killing four people.
Eleven bombing incidents occurred in Lusaka in 1987, including a parcel bomb explosion in September in which two postal workers were killed. Although no claim of responsibility was made, Zambian officials blamed it on agents of South Africa. Two other bombings were directed against the ANC, which has its external Headquarters in Lusaka.
Zambia has attempted to respond to these incidents by aggressively deploying its security forces.
There were three distinct forms of violence with an international dimension in Zimbabwe in 1987:
- Bombing attacks against South African exiles included a car bombing in a Harare shopping center apparently aimed at a South African couple. Some of these attacks were apparently staged by groups or individuals associated with South Africa, ostensibly acting in retaliation for attacks launched against South Africa from Zimbabwean territory, which took place despite genuine efforts by the Zimbabwe Government to control such activity.
- Numerous murders, mutilations, and kidnapings of Zimbabwean citizens were carried out by RENAMO near the Mozambican border, in response to which Zimbabwe increased its military presence there.
- Local armed dissidents occasionally turned on foreign victims, including a massacre of 16 missionaries (two of whom were US citizens) and their family members in November, and the murder of two West German tourists in June. The merger of the two largest political parties in December and an amnesty announced in April 1988 may reduce violence from this source.
Despite efforts by the Botswana Government to deny access to its territory, South African dissident groups occasionally pass through Botswana to carry out anti-South African operations. South Africa has at times used these activities as the rationale for raids against the ostensible perpetrators.
In January, an attack on a house near the South African border killed an elderly woman. A soldier investigating the incident was killed and four others were wounded when a grenade left at the scene exploded. In April, a car bomb exploded in Gaborone, killing three Botswana citizens; the Botswana Government, after a two-month investigation, blamed South Africa. In May, a UK citizen claiming to work for South African intelligence tried but failed to assassinate a prominent South African athlete and antiapartheid activist; he was tried and sentenced to five years imprisonment on weapons-possession charges. One person was injured in grenade attacks, apparently of South African origin, at four houses and a bookstore in December.
Despite South African and Namibian attempts to curtail infiltration, the South-West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) continued to operate sporadically in northern Namibia during the year. Five bomb incidents occurred, three in Windhoek and two in Walvis Bay. Property damage was extensive, but personal injuries were slight.
Although the struggle against apartheid has been largely nonviolent, especially since imposition of a State of Emergency in 1986, it has also generated a cycle of violent repression by the government and violent resistance by the black opposition, which have resulted in some terrorist actions.
The leadership of the African National Congress, the leading externally based liberation group, disavows a strategy that deliberately targets civilians. Nevertheless, civilians have been victims of incidents claimed by or attributed to the ANC. In two such incidents—bombings near a magistrate’s court in Johannesburg in May and near the Army headquarters in central Johannesburg in July—scores of civilians were injured. A number of other bombing attacks caused property damage only.
The South African Government has responded to efforts by domestic groups to oppose apartheid by virtually banning all such groups and repressing their activities. While blacks continue to be killed by the police and military, the number has gone down sharply since imposition of the State of Emergency.
The South African Government’s response to externally originated violence as been to attack suspected sources of the acts in neighboring countries. Attacks on alleged ANC installations and operatives in Mozambique and Zambia were carried out in 1987, killing three and four people, respectively. At least four incidents of bombing and murder in Botswana were attributed to South African agents. In Zimbabwe a bomb also attributed to South African agents was set off in a Harare shopping center, gravely injuring an exiled South African couple.
South Africa has provided logistic and other support to RENAMO insurgents in Mozambique who continue to target civilians.