Patterns of Global Terrorism. Editor: Anna Sabasteanski. Volume 1, Berkshire Publishing, 2005.
The Year in Review
The year 1990 was one of the few in recent times in which there were no “spectacular” terrorist incidents resulting in the death or injury of a large number of victims. Despite this fact, there were a number or major terrorist developments, including a heightened international terrorist threat owing to Iraq’s renewed association with terrorist groups worldwide.
Perhaps the most significant development occurred in the wake of the 2 August Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. A number of Palestinian groups, including the Palestine Liberation Front (PFL), the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PLFPGC), pledged their support for Saddam Hussein, and most threatened terrorist attacks against the West, Israel, and moderate Arab targets in the event of war. Although by year’s end no such attacks had taken place, the threat remained high.
Another significant development was the abortive 30 May attack on Israeli beaches by the PFL. The PFL is a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and is therefore subject to the PLO’s “renunciation” of terrorism. Following the PLO’s refusal to condemn the attack, the United States suspended its dialogue with the PLO, pending action by the PLO demonstrating that it abides by the conditions it accepted in December 1988.
Both of these events highlight the continuing importance of states that support terrorists and sponsor terrorist attacks. The PLF attack on Israel was planned and executed from Libya. In 1990 Iraq, which provides support for a growing number of terrorist allies, was returned to the US Governments list of state sponsors of terrorism. The other countries on that list—Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Syria—continued to provide varying degrees of support—safehaven, travel documents, arms, training, and technical expertise—to terrorists.
Latin America emerged in 1990 as the most frequent site for terrorist attacks against US interests. Most of these attacks took place in Chile, Peru, and Colombia. Latin American radical or guerrilla groups engaging in terrorism tended to attack domestic, rather than foreign, targets. Thus, although the number of international terrorist incidents was high, the escalating domestic political violence had an even greater impact on the region.
There was a marked increase in international terrorism in Asia in 1990, primarily because of increased activity by the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the Philippines. At the same time, South Asia suffered from a notable upsurge in terrorism, particularly in Pakistan where the Afghan secret service was responsible for a rash of terrorist attacks.
There were several positive developments regarding terrorism in 1990. Eight Western hostages held in the Middle East—including Americans Robert Polhill and Frank Reed—were released from captivity. Furthermore, no Westerners were taken hostage in Lebanon during 1990. Another positive development was the marked decline in terrorism in the Middle East and a reduction in Middle Eastern “spillover” terrorism in other regions.
The advent of democracy in Eastern Europe bought a change in East European states’ attitudes toward terrorism. The new East European governments were eager to expose the support previous regimes had provided to terrorists, such as East German safehaven for Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorists and Czechoslovak sales of Semtex plastic explosive. Terrorists no longer find official support or safehaven in the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe.
The trend toward multinational cooperation on counterterrorist issues continued during the year. Following major terrorist attacks such as the Pan Am 103 and UTA 772 bombings, the United Nations directed the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop a method of “marking” plastic explosives for preblast detection. Substantial work was completed by ICAO members on a convention requiring all manufactures of plastic explosives to add chemicals to the explosives that would make them easier to detect. An agreement, called the Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection, was signed in early 1991.
Continuing the trend of previous years, a number of important terrorist trials took place in 1990, as governments continued to impose the rule of law on terrorists.
African Regional Overview
There were 52 international terrorist incidents in Africa in 1990, just slightly more than in the previous year. The most significant of these incidents occurred in Djibouti in September, when hand grenades thrown into two downtown cafés killed a child and wounded 17 persons. As in previous years, most acts of terrorism in Africa were conducted by local insurgents. In Liberia, Mozambique, and Somalia, for example, while a few international terrorists incidents took place in the context of bitter struggles against those governments, there were many more incidents of domestic terrorism. When foreigners were involved, they were usually targets of opportunity.
On 27 April, the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), an Angolan separatist group, kidnapped 13 French nationals and a number of Congolese citizens at a French oil-prospecting company’s site near the Congolese border with Cabinda. Cabinda is an Angolan enclave separated from the rest of the country by a narrow strip of Zaire. Nine French nationalists and some of the Congolese were released within a few hours; and the remaining hostages were released on 10 May. Two Portuguese aid workers were kidnapped by FLEC in September and released approximately two months later.
In October, an American was kidnapped in Cabinda Province by a different Cabindan separatist group, the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda-Military Position (FLEC-PM). He was released in December.
Both the Angolan Government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) have publicly and repeatedly accused each other of practicing terrorism against their opponents, including the kidnapping, killing, torturing, or maiming of civilians, but few of these allegations could be independently verified. However, UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi publicly acknowledged that a French national captured by UNITA in a war zone had died while being marched to the Zairean border, where he was to have been released.
There was one act of international terrorism in Djibouti in 1990. On 27 September, several grenades were thrown from a passing taxi into the Café de Paris, a sidewalk café in the capital, killing a 10-year-old French boy and injuring 17 other persons. Grenades also were thrown at the Café L’Historil, but they failed to explode. A previously unknown group, the Djiboutian Youth Movement, claimed responsibility for the attacks. Four Djibouti youths were arrested and charged in early October. During arraignment, they recanted their earlier confessions, saying they had been tortured. Djibouti authorities are continuing their investigations.
The Tunisian national charged in the 1987 bombing of the Café L’Historil, in which 11 persons were killed, remains imprisoned awaiting trial.
On 30 March, a bomb exploded at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa, causing damage to one room. The following day the Ethiopian Government expelled two Libyans, apparently for their alleged involvement. An Israeli diplomat staying in the hotel may have been the intended target.
During much of 1990, Liberia was torn by a bitter civil war between the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), loyal to President Samuel Doe, and two factions—the national Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), led by Charles Taylor, and the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), led by Prince Johnson. The battlelines were also drawn between ethnic groups, as members of rival groups sought out and massacred each other. A cease-fire has been in effect since 2 December,
In August, an American missionary was kidnapped by members of the Armed Forces of Liberia. Beaten and shot in the legs, he later died. His body was returned at the same time that another kidnapped American was released.
The NPFL ambushed a train and kidnapped two passengers—a British journalist and a Liberian national. The Englishman was released five days later. The NPFL has been accused of direct responsibility for the deaths of several Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members, including two Nigerian journalists.
Prince Johnson’s INPFL kidnapped a number of foreigners, including one American, ostensibly to force ECOWAS to intervene in the Liberian civil war. All of the hostages were released a few days later.
The Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) movement continued its 16-year-old insurgency in 1990, conducting terrorist attacks mostly against peasants who refused to cooperate with them. Soft targets, such as schools and villages, continued to be attacked frequently, and as many as several thousand Mozambicans were killed by the group. In February, RENAMO kidnapped a Zimbabwean businessman and a British professor; the two were rescued by a joint Zimbabwean-Mozambican military operation. In June, the group kidnapped two Swiss Red Cross workers and held them for four days. There were indications in late 1990 that RENAMO leaders were attempting to reduce the number of attacks on civilians.
In addition to RENAMO, bandits and undisciplined government troops continued to raid and loot villages. Indiscriminate violence on both sides had led to near anarchy in much of the countryside. Under these conditions, apprehension and prosecution of domestic terrorists are not feasible.
Direct talks between the Government of Mozambique and RENAMO produced an agreement in late 1990 to designate two land transport routes as “peace corridors,” which would not be attacked. These talks are expected to continue. Previous government offers of amnesty to RENAMO supporters were ineffective.
Antiregime elements were probably responsible for a series of bombing attacks throughout the year. Numerous attacks were carried out against Somali targets in an attempt to oust the government of President Siad Barre. Among the non-Somali targets were the mission of the European Community (EC) and the Libyan, Iraqi, and Chinese Embassies. The bombings caused only superficial damage to the three embassy buildings. A guard at the EC mission was injured by the blast. In May, a grenade exploded on the US Embassy compound in Mogadishu. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
In 1990, the South African Government began preparations for a transition to nonracial democracy by lifting the ban on opposition organizations, releasing political prisoners—including Nelson Mandela—and entering into talks with the African National Congress (ANC). In August, the ANC agreed to suspend its armed struggle against the government.
These developments led to a virtual end to violent repression by the government and violent resistance by the opposition. There was, however, a major escalation in black factional violence. More than a thousand people were killed in this fighting. Some human rights observers alleged that rightwing extremist elements of the security forces were contributing to the factional violence.
White extremists, in protest against apartheid reforms, carried out a series of terrorist attacks against both domestic and foreign elements. On 4 February, shots were fired at the British Embassy in Pretoria. A previously unknown group, the Order of the Boer People, claimed responsibility. Later in the year, the same group was responsible for the homemade bomb that exploded at the residence of US Ambassador William Swing, damaging a gatepost and a guardhouse. Three people were arrested in connection with this incident. On 6 July, an explosion at a crowded taxi and bus terminal used by black commuters in Johannesburg injured 23 people and damaged eight vehicles. The White Liberation Army—also previously unknown—claimed responsibility. On 12 September, a bomb exploded at the ruling National Party offices in Pretoria. A supporter of rightwing extremist Piet “Skiet” Rudolph claimed responsibility.
In November, the government released the findings of the Harms Commission investigation into charges of government directed terrorism. The Commission concluded that the Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB)—a covert element of the South African Defense Force—was involved in the murder of at least two people and conspired to kill at least three others. The CCB was found to have been responsible for at least one bombing as well. Antiapartheid activists criticized the Harms Commission report, particularly the narrow scope of its investigation and the Commission’s inability to gain access to key witnesses and records. Many killings that have been linked to CCB “hit squads” remained unsolved, including the murders in 1989 of anti apartheid activist David Webster in Johannesburg and South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) official Anton Lubowski in Namibia. In mid-1990 the government announced that the CCB would be disbanded.
The five Abu Nidal organization (ANO) terrorists tried and convicted for their roles in the bombings in 1988 at the Acropole Hotel and the Sudan Club remained imprisoned at year’s end, but they were released in January 1991. The Sudanese courts had sentenced the five to death but later ruled that the families of the victims, who were all British or Sudanese, had the option of accepting cash payments as compensation—in which case the terrorists would not be executed. The British families refused to accept payment of “blood money” but also opposed the death penalty.
Khartoum has a close relationship with Iraq and increasingly warm ties to Iran. In 1990, Sudan signed an “integration agreement” with Libya that, among other things, permits the Libyans much easer access to Sudan.
Asian Regional Overview
The number of international terrorist incidents in Asia increased dramatically in 1990, from 56 incidents in 1989 to 96. This increase was primarily due to greater activity by Afghan agents in Pakistan and Communist guerrillas in the Philippines. The greatest threat to Americans in the region remains in the Philippines, where Communist insurgents launched attacks against US facilities and killed five Americans. In South Korea, radical students conducted several attacks against US facilities. Domestic political violence including sectarian and communal violence in India, particularly in Kashmir and Punjab, and the festering insurgency in Sri Lanka were also of concern in 1990.
The number of international terrorist incidents reported in Pakistan increased sharply in 1990 because of a renewed bombing campaign by the Afghan secret police, WAD. The WAD is believed responsible for 35 of the 45 international terrorist incidents recorded in Pakistan. Dozens of people were killed and many more injured in WAD attacks. Although WAD attacks are ostensibly against Pakistan-based Afghan resistance fighters and refugees, the targeting of markets, movie theaters, train stations, and other public gathering places suggests the goal is to intimidate and undermine the Pakistani Government’s willingness to host the Afghan refugees.
Sectarian and ethnic conflicts within India resulted in the deaths of several thousand civilians at the hands of terrorist groups. Sikh extremists in Punjab continued to use terrorist tactics to advance their political agenda. Nearly 5,000 civilians died in the state, mostly as a result of indiscriminate violence by Sikh extremists. Although a majority of the victims were Sikhs, machinegun attacks on crowded markets in predominately Hindu towns and bombings of busses and trains were commonplace. Central government rule, imposed in 1987, remained in effect at year’s end.
In Kashmir, separatist groups capitalized on the popular perception among the state’s Muslims that New Delhi has discriminated against them politically and economically.
Separatist groups stepped up their campaign of violence, bombing schools and other public buildings. By year’s end, some 2,300 people had died in Kashmir as a result of the violence. On 6 April, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), the most prominent separatist group, kidnapped the vice chancellor of Kashmiri University, his secretary, and an official of the state-run Hindustan Machine Tools. Several days later, the three were murdered after the government refused to swap jailed militants for them. In July, the JKLF kidnapped the son of a Kashmiri government official and held him for three days.
Other Kashmiri separatist groups also conducted acts of terrorism. The Mujahidin Kashmir claimed responsibility for the 12 April bombing of a passenger train in Bombay, which injured 30 people. The Allah Tigers claimed responsibility for killing an Indian intelligence officer in early September.
The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), which was banned by the government in November, has conducted assassinations and extortions as part of its drive for an independent Assamese state. Other tribal-based groups employed terrorism in their separatist struggles.
The Indian Government charges that Sikh and Kashmiri extremists have received training, arms, and sanctuary from Pakistan—charges denied by Pakistani authorities.
The ineffectiveness of local security services has hampered Indian attempts to counter domestic terrorism in areas of secessionist and communal violence. The Government of India frequently deploys paramilitary or military forces to restore basic law and order in terrorist-afflicted areas. In 1990, the government announced the creation of a paramilitary group called the National Rifles, whose task is to assist the security services in tumultuous areas like Punjab and Assam.
In November, Chukaku-ha, Japan’s most active ultraleftist group, threw two small homemade grenades over the wall of the US Consul General’s home in Osaka, causing minor damage. This incident was part of a rash of relatively minor violence surrounding the enthronement ceremonies for the Emperor.
Throughout the year, ultraleftists opposed to the imperial system carried out a series of attacks against Japanese targets. In early January, homemade rockets caused minor damage to the Tokyo residence of Prince Hitachi, the Emperor’s younger brother, and struck the Kyoto Imperial Palace but caused no damage. In late January, Chukaku-ha set fires on seven trains in several prefectures; there were no injuries and only minor damage.
Ultraleftist groups carried out approximately 40 attacks with homemade mortars and incendiary devices to protest the 12 November enthronement of Emperor Akihito. The radicals fired rockets at four Self-Defense Force facilities in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures but caused no damage or casualties. Rockets that veered off course hit several buildings in Tokyo, causing minor damage. The groups also set fire to several railway lines and Shinto shrines in and around Tokyo. Before the enthronement, the Kakurokyo Hazama-ha bombed a police dormitory in Tokyo, killing one officer and injuring six others.
The Japanese Red Army (JRA) did not conduct any terrorist operations in 1990. Its leadership remains based in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. The cases of JRA members Osamu Maruoka and Hiroshi Sensui—arrested in 1987 and 1988, respectively—are still under adjudication in Japan.
Radical rightwing groups carried out only one incident in 1990. A member of the minuscule Seikijuku (Righteous Spiritual School) shot and wounded the mayor of Nagasaki on 18 January.
Papua New Guinea
The Free Papua Movement (OPM) kidnapped an American missionary, a New Zealand missionary, three Filipinos, and a Papua New Guinean near the Indonesian-New Guinean border in November. The OPM, which has been fighting for the independence of Iran Jaya since it was annexed by Indonesia in 1961, demanded that talks be arranged with officials of the Papua New Guinean Government. The captives were released in good condition after 12 days.
In the Philippines, the New People’s Army (NPA), the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), continued to target US personnel and installations as part of its campaign against US military bases:
- In January, a bomb exploded outside the United States Information Service (USIS) office in Davao, causing minor damage.
- In late February, the NPA killed an American geologist, his Filipino wife, and his father-in-law in an ambush in Bohol Province. The father-in-law, a prominent local official, is believed to have been the target of this attack.
- In early March, a US rancher in southern Luzon was slain by the NPA for refusing to pay Communist taxes.
- The NPA was responsible for the slaying of two US airmen near Clark Airbase on 13 May and may have been responsible for the assassination of a Marine sergeant on 4 May.
- On 18 May, two rifle grenades were fired at the USIS office in Manila; one exploded, causing minor damage.
- A US Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) was kidnapped and held by the NPA on Negros Island from mid-June until 2 August, when he was released unharmed. The volunteer’s disappearance was not made known until two weeks after his abduction. By that time, the US Government had already decided to withdraw all PCV’s from the Philippines because of the NPA threat. A Japanese aid worker, also kidnapped by the NPA, was released 2 August.
- Small-arms fire caused minor damage to the USIS building in Davao on 2 July.
- Communists bombed the Voice of America transmitter tower in Concepcion (Tarlac) on 17 September, causing limited damage.
- An American businessman was reportedly kidnapped by the NPA on 19 October in the northern Province of Cagayan. No claim of responsibility or demands were received, and he was still missing at the end of the year.
- Two rifle grenades were fired at the US Embassy on 10 November, but caused no damage or injuries.
The Aquino administration continues to press its international campaign against supporters of the Communists. The Philippines successfully lobbied the Dutch Government to reject CPP founder Jose Maria Sison’s application for political asylum. Manila also continues to publicize the diversion of funds by the Communists’ National Democratic front to the CPP/NPA.
In April, the government arrested NPA Deputy Chief of Staff Antonio Cabardo upon his return from Hong Kong; Cabardo was involved in an international scheme to launder counterfeit money. In June and again in October, the government raided NPA safehouses in Manila and arrested additional members of the NPA leadership.
Manila has issued public statements condemning domestic terrorism and maintains a reward program for information leading to the arrest of key figures in the CPP/NPA apparatus in the Philippines and abroad. A verdict was expected in early 1991 in the trial of two NPA assassins accused of murdering US Army Col. James Rowe in April 1989. Reynaldo Bernardo, a senior official of the Alex Boncayao Brigade—the Communists’ premier assassination squad in Manila—was arrested in early November. Bernardo is a suspect in the Rowe slaying and may be tried for that crime.
Dissident military officers were responsible for a bombing campaign against both Philippine and foreign businesses in Manila in August and September. The bombings, which caused no fatalities, apparently were designed to demonstrate President Aquino’s inability to maintain law and order. The government has offered rewards for the capture of rebel military leaders, some of whom are accused of complicity in random bombing attacks. Several dissident military officers were captured in 1990.
The Government of the Philippines continues to be a willing participant in programs of bilateral cooperation with, and training in, the United States on counterterrorism issues.
In 1990, there was a handful of relatively minor attacks against US interests by radical students and other dissidents. In February, approximately 100 youths attempted to attack the residence of the head of the American Cultural Center in Kwangju. On 12 June, about 300 students attacked the US Cultural Center in Kwangju with firebombs; there were no injuries or damage. In August, radicals threw more than 50 firebombs at the rear door of a US Army office in Seoul, causing minor damage. On 18 October, 11 students attacked the US Embassy with firebombs and small explosive devices but caused no injuries or property damage.
In April, South Korean President Roh granted a special amnesty to Kim Hyun-Hui, the 28-year-old North Korean agent convicted of planting a bomb on a Korean Airlines flight in November 1987. Kim received the death penalty for the attack, in which 115 were killed, but she was pardoned because she confessed her crime and admitted to acting on behalf of North Korea. At her trial, Kim asserted that she had been told the bombing was directly ordered by Kim Chongll, son of North Korean President Kim ll-song.
Domestic terrorism continued to wrack the nation. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) broke off talks with the government in June and launched a campaign of violence. On 22 July, government forces discovered a series of mass graves containing the bodies of up to 200 policemen near the village of Tirrukkovil in eastern Sri Lanka. The policemen, many of whom had been blindfolded and shot in the back of the head, had been captured by the LTTE in mid-June. The LTTE reportedly was responsible for a series of massacres of Moslems near the Batticaloa region in the first half of August. The LTTE also was responsible for the murder of rival Tamil politicians throughout the northeast.
The radical Sinhalese group Janatha Vimukhi Perumana (JVP) was crippled by the deaths and arrests of most of its senior leadership in 1989. As a result, it was capable of conducting only limited operations in 1990. The group’s most notable attack occurred in July, when it seized and executed 15 members of a village committee in southern Matara who had been cooperating with the police. The government continues to arrest suspected JVP members, and at least 15,000 are in custody. The government intends to prosecute those believed responsible for acts of terrorism and will provide vocational rehabilitation for others.
In 1990, three individuals accused in the May 1986 bombing of an Air Lanka aircraft, which killed 28, were acquitted. Five persons accused in the August 1987 grenade attack on Parliament, which killed two officials, also were found to be innocent. The government is appealing the acquittal of the five, and they remain in custody.
European Regional Overview
Two trends emerge in examining terrorist statistics for Western Europe in 1990. The first is the sharp decline in “spillover” terrorism from the Middle East as compared with previous years (in 1988 there were 29 such incidents, 31 in 1989, and only 8 in 1990). The second is the persistence—and violence—of autonomist groups such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), and Corsican nationalists.
An alarming phenomenon is the continued attacks on Iranian political dissidents residing in Europe by official Iranian hit squads. Swiss authorities confirm official Iranian involvement in the murder of an Iranian dissident in Switzerland, and French authorities suspect that the November murder of an Iranian-American dissident in Paris was the work of Iranian hit men.
In Greece, domestic terrorist groups were responsible for several attacks on US and other targets. In September, Greece declined a US extradition request against Palestinian terrorist Muhammad Rashid, charged with involvement in the 1982 bombing of a Pan Am aircraft. Rashid will be prosecuted in Greece.
US interests continued to be targets of terrorism in Turkey, where domestic terrorism also increased during the year.
Perhaps the most dramatic changes in the last year have come in Eastern Europe, where the fall of Communist regimes has undermined the active or passive government support that terrorists had previously enjoyed in that region.
In February, Enver Hadri, a leader of the local Albanian Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Kosovo, was assassinated by two unidentified gunmen in Brussels. Hadri’s colleagues have accused the Yugoslav intelligence service of his murder.
Belgium authorities scored several successes against the PIRA in 1990. Four suspected PIRA members were arrested in June. One of the four, Donna Maguire, was extradited to the Netherlands for her alleged role in the murder in Holland of two Australian citizens in May. In early December, the Belgian security forces arrested three alleged PIRA commandos during a raid on a safehouse in Antwerp. The suspects are scheduled to be tried in early 1991.
In April, the Belgian Government sent a special envoy to Beirut to seek information on Belgian citizens who had been seized from the yacht Silco in the Mediterranean and held by members of the Abu Nidal organization (ANO) since 1987. One of these hostages, along with his French girlfriend and their baby, was released in April. The four remaining Belgian hostages were freed in January 1991 in an arrangement that included the release of an ANO terrorist jailed in Belgium, who had served 10 years of his life sentence.
There were no international terrorist incidents in Cyprus in 1990.
In January, the Government of Cyprus hosted a two-man delegation from the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK), which was sponsored by the Cypriot Committee for Solidarity with Kurdistan. The PKK, known for its terrorist attacks in Turkey, met with senior Greek Cypriot legislators, and the Cypriot Government arranged for a PKK press conference. This meeting was followed by the equally controversial November visit of four Greek Cypriot legislators to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon for meetings with PKK leaders.
Since the fall of the Communist regimes in 1989, the policy of many East European countries has shifted from tolerance of, or even support for, terrorist groups to active cooperation with the West on counterterrorist issues. An example of the new openness evident in the region is Czechoslovak President Havel’s revelation in April that the former government had exported 1,000 tons of the plastic explosive Semtex to Libya. This was the first official acknowledgement that sales of such magnitude had taken place. In Hungary, the new government denounced he former regime’s support for Illych Ramirez Sanchez, the international terrorist known as Carlos, and initiated investigations into the assistance previously offered to him and to members of the Baader-Meinhof group.
Ironically, democratization, the concomitant loosening of government control on society, and the resulting changes in government security structures may make some of the countries of the region more vulnerable to the threat of domestic terrorism. These countries may also, for the first time, find themselves targeted by international terrorists. Support for the international coalition aligned against the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, facilitating the transport of emigrating Soviet Jews to Israel, and the cessation of support for terrorist groups may make these new democracies the targets of terrorist attacks. The United States and other governments of the West are taking steps to help these countries deal with this challenge.
In June, a group calling itself the December 13 Independent Group claimed responsibility for an attempted firebombing against the Soviet Consulate in Gdansk, Poland. The group, named for the date in 1981 on which President Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law, claimed that the attack was in protest against Poland’s role in the movement of Soviet Jews to Israel. The attack resulted in minor property damage and no casualties.
In October, an explosion destroyed the offices of the rights and Freedoms movement, a political movement of ethnic Turks and Pomaks, in Shumen, Bulgaria. No injuries were reported. Unrest among ethnic Turks in Bulgaria is a continuing concern.
Terrorism in Yugoslavia and the former German Democratic Republic is discussed separately.
In 1990, international terrorist incidents in France were largely limited to activities connected with separatist movements in Corsica and the Basque area. France maintains an active antiterrorist stance and cooperates bilaterally with the United States and with many other nations in the fight against terrorism.
In 1990, France continued its cooperation with Spain in the fight against Basque terrorism and scored several counterterrorist successes. In April, French police dismantled an alleged ETA commando unit of 10 French nationals living in France. The group, believed to be headed by Henri Parot, has been charged with participating in criminal conspiracy on behalf of ETA. The group had reportedly been operating in Spain since the late 1970s. This roundup was the first large-scale arrest of French citizens charged with terrorist activities in Spain. A large cache of arms and explosives was also uncovered in connection with the arrest.
In September, alleged ETA leader Jose Zabaleta-Elosegui (alias Waldo), reputedly the second in command of ETA’s military branch, was arrested in Biarritz on terrorist-related charges. In November, French police rounded up a four-man ETA cell in southwestern France and later that month arrested a three-man ETA cell in northern France.
The French Government’s conciliatory approach toward the Corsican National Liberation Front (FLNC) appears to have generated a schism within the movement between hard-liners and those seeking political concessions from Paris without resorting to violence. The truce declared in May 1988 between FLNC and the government has been broken by a new faction, the Corsican National Liberation Army (ALNC), which claimed responsibility for several bombings in the summer and fall of 1990 directed principally against properties owned by foreigners. Despite Interior Minister Joxe’s program of attempting to co-opt the dissidents by granting more political autonomy to Corsica, some hardliners appear determined to continue to use terrorism in the fight for complete autonomy.
The French investigation into the terrorist bombing of UTA Flight 772 over Niger in September 1989 received wide press coverage during the latter part of 1990. According to press accounts, two probable Congolese nationals—one detained in Brazzaville, Congo, and the other in Kinshasa, Zaire—suspected of being active participants in the bombing, have been interviewed by French authorities. No charges have been filed in the case.
French authorities also continue their investigation into the bombings in the last three months of 1990 against US and French targets by the leftwing anarchist group Gracchus Babeuf. The bombings, which resulted in minor property damage and no injuries, were carried out in protest against the deployment of US Forces in the Persian Gulf.
France has one of Europe’s most experienced cadre of specialized counterterrorist magistrates, and during 1990 the courts handed down stiff sentences to international terrorists responsible for attacks dating back to 1982. In March, the French Correctional Court sentenced Fouad Saleh and eight other members of a Hizballah terrorist cell to sentences ranging from five to 20 years for their roles in a series of bombings in 1986. In addition, the court convicted eight other Lebanese Hizballah militants in absentia. The convictions and sentences of the Saleh group were confirmed by the court of Appeals in October. In 1991, members of the Saleh group will be tried by the Criminal Court for the actual bombings.
In June, a French court condemned Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction member Jacqueline Esber in absentia to life imprisonment for her role in the slaying of an Israeli diplomat in 1982 and the attempted murder of a US consul in 1984. French authorities believe Esber is hiding in Libya. In June, the court also condemned an Iraqi, Haysayn Humary, in absentia to life imprisonment for taking part in the bombing of the Marks and Spencer department store in Paris in 1985. Humary, whose whereabouts are unknown, was a member of the Palestinian terrorist group 15 May Organization, which has now disbanded. Another member of the same group, Habib Maamar, was sentenced in absentia on similar charges to 20 years’ imprisonment.
French courts sentenced a number of ETA terrorists including Arrospide-Sarasola (alias Santi-Potros), who is considered to be one of the group’s top leaders. Santi-Potros will probably be extradited to Spain before completing his 10-year sentence in France. Another leading ETA member, Jose-Antonio Urriticoechea (alias Ternera), was sentenced to 10 years in prison for terrorist conspiracy and illegal possession of arms. In January, a member of the Basque terrorist organization Iparretarrak was sentenced to two years in prison.
In May, France extradited the Spaniard Jose Ramon Martinez de la Fuente to Spain on charges of committing ETA-sponsored terrorist activities. The French Council of State confirmed that two other suspected ETA members, Carmelo Garcia Merchan and Jose Felix Perez, can legally be extradited; their actual extradition awaits a final decision of the French Government. In early March, a French court approved the extradition of suspected Provisional Irish Republican Army members Patrick Murray, Donagh O’Kane, and Pauline Drumm to Germany, where they were wanted for assaults against British military installations, including a bombing that killed a British military officer. The three were captured in July 1989 while reportedly preparing to attack British interests in France.
At the same time, the French Government took controversial measures in its dealings with state sponsors of terrorism. In April, the government obtained the release of the last of the French hostages—Jacqueline Valente, her Belgian companion, and their young daughter—who had been held by the Abu Nidal organization. The French Government was criticized by several Western nations for praising the role of Libyan leader Qadhafi in obtaining the hostages’ release. French press reports say they had been held in Libya.
On 27 July, French President Mitterrand pardoned pro-Iranian Lebanese terrorist Anis Naccache and four of his accomplices. Naccache had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1982 for killing a French policeman and a passer-by and for wounding three others during a failed attempt to assassinate former Iranian Prime Minister Shahpur Bakhtiar. The government expelled all five terrorists after their release from prison. According to press reports, the French had made a deal with Iran to release the prisoners in exchange for the release of French hostages in Lebanon. Foreign Minister Dumas asserted that the Naccache release was part of France’s efforts to obtain freedom for the remaining Western hostages in Lebanon.
International terrorist attacks decreased from 19 incidents in 1989 to 13 in 1990. None of these incidents [were] directed against US targets. The number of domestic terrorist incidents increased, however, following the onset of a new Red Army Faction (RAF) offensive that began in late 1989.
On 3 October, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) merged with West Germany. Thus, West German law and authority were extended into the territory of the former GDR. The former Communist East German regime had maintained good relations with Libya and several terrorist groups. Information released from the files of the Stasi, the former East German secret police, and German press reports make clear the extent of East German support for German and international terrorist groups. Among the revelations:
- The Stasi, through monitoring of Libyans in East Germany, knew in advance of plans for the 1986 La Belle disco bombing in which two American servicemen were killed.
- Stasi officials provided training to Palestinian and Libyan terrorists. The Stasi also provided weapons to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in exchange for information on West German intelligence activities in Beirut.
- East Germany gave safehaven to Abu Daoud and Abu Hisham—two members of the PLO’s Fatah organization who masterminded the murders at the 1972 Munich Olympics—and the notorious terrorist Illych Ramirez Sanchez, also known as Carlos.
- An East German foreign trade organization was involved in arms trading with the Abu Nidal organization.
- A number of Red Army Faction members were given new identities and safehaven by the East German Government.
The indulgent attitudes toward terrorism that characterized the Honecker regime were replaced by efforts to take a firm counterterrorist stand. In June, the GDR Government arrested 10 former RAF terrorists, most of whom voluntarily agreed to be turned over to West German authorities. Two of the suspects were released because the West German warrants for their arrest had expired. The other eight suspects—Susanne Albrecht, Inge Viett, Werner Lotze, Sigrid Sternebeck, Silke Maier-Witt, Henning Beer, Monika Helbing, and Ralf-Babtiste Friedrich—remain in custody awaiting prosecution. Press reports indicate that these suspects have provided investigators with extensive information on RAF activities between 1977 and 1981, including the 1977 assassinations of Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback, Dresdener Bank Chief Juergen Ponto, and Employers’ Association President Hans-Martin Schleyer.
The arrests of former RAF members in East Germany have had only limited impact on the activities of the current RAF hardcore. The group continued the terrorist offensive begun in November 1989 with a technically sophisticated bombing attack that killed Deutsche Bank Chairman Alfred Herhausen and injured the driver of his armored car. The RAF aborted an attack against West German Agriculture Minister Ignatz Kiechie in April. The RAF claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of Interior Ministry State Secretary Hans Neusel in July. The RAF also carried out arson attacks and vandalism against several Spanish automobile dealerships in Germany in support of the Spanish October 1st Antifascist resistance Group (GRAPO).
There were several international terrorist attacks in Germany during 1990. The Provisional Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for attempted bomb attacks in May against British military installations in Hannover and Muensterm, for the assassination of a British Army officer in Dortmund and for the bombing in June of a military training facility in Hamein.
Several counterterrorist prosecutions took place in German courts in 1990. The trial of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PLFP-GC) members Hafiz Kassem Dalkamoni, a ranking official of the organization, and Abdel Fattah Ghandanfar for the failed attacks against US military duty trains in 1987 and 1988 began in October. Dalkamoni was also indicted in April on charges of “manslaughter as a result of negligence,” stemming from an explosion that killed one German bomb-disposal technician and severely injured another in April 1989.
Ali Cetiner, a leading Kurdish Workers’ Party member, was convicted in March of murdering another Kurd. In the first application of a new law that allows prosecution witnesses in certain terrorist cases to receive reduced sentences in exchange for testimony, Cetiner was sentenced to only five years’ imprisonment, instead of the usual life term. Trials for murder and other serious crimes against 17 other alleged PKK members continued at year’s end.
Suspected Provisional Irish Republican Army operatives Gerard McGeough and Gerard Hanratty were on trial in Duesseldorf at year’s end. Both are implicated in the attempted bomb attacks during the summer of 1988 against British Army Barracks in Duisburg. In addition, McGeough is charged in the March 1987 bombing of a British officers’ mess in Rhein Dahlem that injured dozens of Germans.
There are no legal provisions that allow German citizens to be extradited. Moreover, since Germany does not have the death penalty, foreigners charged with capital offenses are unlikely to be extradited. The German Government’s policy is that individuals not extradited for terrorist crimes will be tried in Germany, regardless of where the crime was committed.
The German press has noted police complaints that a number of legal safeguards hinder investigations. Generous provisions allowing asylum seekers and refugees to remain in Germany pending resolution of their cases have enabled some persons suspected of terrorist acts to remain in Germany. For instance, Bassim Makki, a Lebanese convicted in December 1989 of conspiracy to carry out bomb attacks against US and Israeli interests in Munich and Frankfurt, was released and deported to Syria in July. Makki agreed to drop his application for political asylum and to consent to deportation in exchange for an early release.
German officials continue to work closely with US, British, and other authorities to identify the individuals responsible for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.
There were four international terrorist incidents in Greece in 1990. The most notable of these were the bombings in March of 11 vehicles belonging to non-Western embassies by the terrorist organization Social Resistance and the bazooka attack in June against the offices of the US firm Proctor and Gamble by the Revolutionary Organization 17 November. A lesser known group, the Anticapitalist, Antiestablishment Struggle Organization, claimed responsibility for a February firebombing of a US Air Force vehicle in Patras. Greece also experienced a rash of anarchist and extreme leftist violence against government and political offices, as well as police stations. The Greek police believe a number of individuals suspected of past terrorist activity were involved in these attacks.
Greek terrorist groups focused the bulk of their attacks on domestic targets, in part a reflection of Greece’s economic problems and political unrest during a period of national elections. These targets included government officials, prominent Greeks, and institutions. In addition to the bazooka attack on Proctor and Gamble, 17 November carried out a daring daylight theft of two bazookas from the National Military Museum in February, detonated some 23 incendiary devices in affluent neighborhoods of Athens, attempted to assassinate Greek shipping magnate Vardis Vardinogiannis, and attacked EC offices in downtown Athens with rockets in late December. In all but the incendiary attacks and the museum robbery, 17 November made use of a variety of military explosives and rockets it had stolen from a Greek military weapons depot in Larissa in December 1989.
The level of violence by Revolutionary People’s Struggle (ELA) continued apace, as the organization conducted numerous independent bombings. In April, ELA carried out its first joint attacks, with the terrorist group 1 May, against Greek Government and labor offices in Athens and Thessaloniki. In early November, suspected terrorist Kyriakos Mazokopos inadvertently directed Greek police to a suspected ELA-1 May safehouse in a downtown Athens warehouse, when a device he was assembling in the warehouse exploded prematurely. Police later uncovered a large cache of military equipment, explosives, and original proclamations of ELA, 1 May, and Revolutionary Solidarity. Revolutionary Solidarity was responsible for the February 1990 murder of Greek prison psychiatrist Mario Manatos. Fingerprints of three suspects in the murder were found on different items in the warehouse. Mazokopos and others have been charged in the warehouse case, and investigations are continuing.
In 1990, the Greek Government decided to try suspected Palestinian terrorist Mohammad Rashid in Greece for his role in the 1982 bombing of a Pan Am aircraft, rather than extradite him to the United States.
At the same time, the Greek Parliament passed a new counterterrorist law that appears to expand the investigative authority of the security services in cases of terrorism, narcotics, and organized crime. The move is seen as part of Prime Minister Mitsotakis’s growing commitment to combating international and domestic terrorism. The new government has taken significant steps to improve the training, equipment, and morale of the police. The government has also initiated a terrorist-tip hotline and passed legislation allowing a ban on the publication of communiqués issued by terrorist organizations.
In August, Greek authorities detained in port the ship Tiny Star, which was used by Libyan-sponsored terrorists to launch an attack on Israel in May. The ship was later stripped of its registry by Panamanian authorities.
Anglo-Irish counterterrorist relations faltered early in the year after the Irish Supreme Court upheld an appeal against the extradition of two PIRA members who had participated in the 1983 mass escape from Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison. The two escapees had argued that, if they were returned, they would be subjected to assault by British prison officials. Dublin did, however, extradite PIRA member Desmond Ellis to the United Kingdom in November. Ellis was wanted in Britain on charges of possession of explosives with the intent to endanger life.
Irish-British dual national Brian Keenan, held hostage in Lebanon since April 1986, was released in August.
In 1990, there was only one international terrorist incident in Italy, as compared to five such incidents in 1989. There were three noteworthy terrorist-related developments in Italy during the year:
- In March, two well-known Red Brigades terrorists were formally charged with involvement in the 1984 assassination of Director General of Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) Leamon Hunt. The court later dismissed the charges because of lack of evidence.
- In July, Italian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Michael Rouphael and Waddud Al Turk, both reportedly members of the Abu Nidal organization, for their involvement in a 1984 attack in Rome in which a United Arab Emirates diplomat was wounded and his companion was killed.
- In October, the trial of four former Italian Intelligence Service officials began. They are charged with thwarting the investigation of a Palestine Liberation Organization arms shipment to Italy in 1979 that, in part, was destined for the Red Brigades.
The Italian courts presided over a number of other cases in 1990, some of which dealt with domestic terrorist incidents dating to 1980. As a result of several Italian court rulings, some 400 accused terrorist group members, including some Red Brigades cadres charged with armed insurrection against the state, were acquitted. Despite their acquittal, many of these individuals remained in prison for other offenses. In one case, 19 rightwing terrorists who had been accused in the 1980 bombing of the Bologna railroad station, in which 85 people died and 200 were wounded, were either acquitted or had their sentences reduced by an appeals court. Although the courts decided that the state’s case was insufficient, the case is still under review appeal.
In February, Switzerland acceded to an Italian request to extradite Red Brigades terrorist Antonio De Luca. De Luca, who was apprehended in 1988, went through an extensive series of legal maneuvers in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain political asylum in Switzerland. In September, a second Italian request for the extradition from Greece of Red Brigades terrorist Maurizio Folini was rejected by an Athens court on the grounds of insufficient evidence. Folini has been convicted in absentia of various terrorist crimes.
The Italian Government continues to improve the effectiveness of its antiterrorist forces. Worries over Persian Gulf-related attacks prompted increased security measures at high visibility targets such as key embassies and Fiumicino International Airport. The United States and Italy have worked together on a series of cooperative investigations involving the Japanese Red Army, Hizballah, and the Abu Nidal organization.
Incidents of international terrorism in the Netherlands decreased from eight in 1989 to three in 1990. In May, the Provisional Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the murder of two Australian tourists in Roermond, stating that it had mistaken the men for off-duty British soldiers. The Basque Fatherland and Liberty Organization claimed credit for two bombings against Spanish targets in Amsterdam in 1990. In June the group bombed a building housing the Iberia Airlines office, and in July it bombed the branch office of a Spanish bank; four passers-by were slightly injured in the second attack.
The trial of four suspects in the Roermond attack—Gerard Harte, Sean Hick, Paul Hughes, and Donna Maguire—was scheduled to begin in February 1991. Although charges against the four are pending in Belgium, the Netherlands decided to prosecute them first. In a separate case, the Netherlands extradited alleged Irish People’s Liberation Organization member Anthony Kerr to Belgium on 8 June. Tried in late 1990 for the December 1989 shooting in Antwerp in which a policeman was wounded, Kerr was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
The Dutch Government continues to work actively to enhance international efforts to fight terrorism and has promoted EC-wide counterterrorist cooperation. The Netherlands has been one of the strongest voices in the EC for taking a tough stand against state supporters of terrorism.
In 1990, the Soviet Union increased its efforts to combat international and domestic terrorism, both of which have become sources of increasing concern for Soviet authorities.
As in 1989, incidents of domestic violence and terrorism continued to rise in the USSR, especially in the Caucasus, Moldavia, and the Central Asian republics. In 1990, Soviet nationals also attempted at least 27 airplane hijackings, nine of which landed in Finland, Sweden, and Pakistan.
In general, Soviet authorities have made vigorous attempts to investigate incidents of violence and terrorism and to prosecute the individuals involved. The Soviets have requested and obtained the extradition of several hijackers, and several other extradition requests are pending. Moscow has also sought to disband and disarm paramilitary groups, particularly in the Caucasus. In November 1990, Soviet authorities arrested and charged a man with attempted terrorism after he allegedly fired two shots on Red Square during the Revolution Day Parade.
Soviet authorities continue to participate in bilateral exchanges with the United States and several West European governments on a broad range of counterterrorist issues. Moscow has taken an increasingly firm stand against terrorism in recent years.
Although the Soviet Union has publicly condemned terrorism, it has continued to provide military and economic assistance to several radical governments involved in terrorist activities, including Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Syria, and, until recently, Iraq. Soviet relations with these countries are not, however uniformly cordial, due to changes in the Soviet Union’s foreign policy orientation and to differences over economic assistance and ideological matters. In many cases, the Soviets have found that their traditional relationships with these radical governments are inconsistent with their new emphasis on increased economic and political ties to the West.
Nevertheless, the Soviets have exhibited a reluctance to confront some of these state sponsors regarding their support for terrorism. This reluctance is no doubt due in part to the advantageous economic relations that the Soviet Union continues to maintain with some of these countries. Perhaps because of this reluctance to disturb these bilateral relationships, the Soviet Union continues to exhibit a preference for broader multilateral approaches to the terrorist problem.
Spain experienced an increase in international terrorist incidents in the past year—from 22 incidents in 1989 to 28 incidents in 1990. This is more than twice the number in any other European country. Terrorism in Spain resulted in at least 25 deaths and many more injuries. Most of these incidents were committed by either the Basque Fatherland and Liberty terrorist organization or the smaller, October 1st Antifascist Resistance Group. Spanish terrorism also spilled over into other parts of Europe. For example, ETA claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks against Spanish installations in the Netherlands.
Spain’s smaller terrorist groups were also active in 1990. These groups include Terra Lliure, which is a Catalan separatist group, and the Guerrilla Army of the Free Galician People.
The ETA organization suffered a setback in 1990 when a hitherto unknown ETA network in France called the Itinerant Command was uncovered. This group had operated for 12 years and was responsible for some 40 terrorist bombings and assassinations in Spain. The discovery led to several arrests. The network began to unravel with the apprehension in April of a French Basque, Henri Parot, in Seville before a planned ETA attack on the local headquarters of the National Police. Working together, French and Spanish security forces later rounded up other Itinerant Command terrorists in France. Parot was convicted of eight offenses—ranging from carrying out injurious attacks to possession of false identification—and in December was sentenced to prison terms totaling 86 years.
Although the Spanish courts continued to deal sternly with terrorist cases, few major prosecutions of international or domestic terrorists were concluded during 1990. As of September 1990, some 470 members of ETA were in prison in Spain awaiting trial. Madrid has also taken action against rightwing terrorists. Several persons, including a national police officer, are in preventive detention, pending prosecution for the Madrid assassination of a pro-ETA Basque legislator in late 1989; two other national police officers are awaiting trial on charges of organizing an extreme rightwing death squad that operated in southern France from 1983 to 1986. Authorities obtained court orders in July to extend their preventive detention period for two years. Spain is also pursuing the prosecution of three Hizballah terrorists arrested in November 1989 in Madrid and Valencia, despite reported warnings by Hizballah supporters in Lebanon of possible terrorist retaliation against Spanish targets. Following these arrests, Spain sponsored an international conference to discuss the Hizballah terrorist organization.
During 1990, Spain vigorously pursued efforts to extradite ETA terrorists from abroad. ETA terrorists reside in many countries including Cape Verde, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Sao Tome and Principe, and Venezuela. French courts ordered the extradition of several ETA members to Spain.
In early 1990, Madrid instituted an intense domestic campaign for citizen assistance in apprehending six GRAPO members primarily responsible for the increased terrorist activity in late 1989 and early 1990. The government also dispersed ETA prisoners throughout the Spanish prison system in an effort to isolate them from each other and to deny them mutual support. The Spanish Government has offered a limited immunity program for terrorist prisoners who renounce the use of force. This so-called reinsertion program is designed not only to convince individual terrorists to renounce terrorism as a political tool but also to divide loyalties within the terrorist groups. Madrid passed a law in 1990 making it illegal for families and employers of kidnapped victims to “collaborate” with terrorists by paying a ransom. Several persons who acted as middlemen in the payment of ransom demands to ETA were charged with this offense in 1990.
Domestic counterterrorism, aimed primarily at ETA and GRAPO, is a high-priority effort. With the 1992 Olympic Games to be held in Barcelona and the World’s Fair in Seville, Spain is increasingly concerned about the risk of terrorist attacks. In 1990, ETA threatened to disrupt the World’s Fair and sent a package bomb to the executive offices of the Fair in Seville. In December, ETA set off a car bomb near the Olympic soccer stadium outside Barcelona, killing six policemen and two civilian bystanders.
In September, an Iranian Kurdish woman was killed by a letter bomb apparently intended for her husband, the chairman of the Kurdish Independence Party in Sweden. Swedish authorities have not officially determined responsibility for the attack. Before the bombing, the dead woman’s husband had reportedly told the Swedish police that he was under constant threat from Iran. Other members of the local Kurdish community have also accused Iran of the assault.
In early 1990, Swedish courts upheld the December 1989 convictions of four Palestinians believed linked to the Popular Struggle Front (PSF) who were found guilty of involvement in bombings in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam in 1985 and 1986. Two of the Palestinians had received life sentences; the remaining two had received sentences of one year and six years. In June, Swedish police arrested 11 Palestinians, all of whom were relatives of the four alleged PSF members, on suspicion of ties to terrorist groups. Evidence was insufficient for prosecution, but the 11 Palestinians were expelled from Sweden or departed the country voluntarily because of immigration irregularities.
Although relatively few terrorist incidents have occurred in Sweden, in the past, members of radical Palestinian and Kurdish groups have used the country as a base for terrorist operations abroad. This remains an area of continuing concern for Swedish authorities. The Swedish National Police Board reported in July that there are about 30,000 refugees and asylum seekers residing in the country who arrived without identification papers. During certain periods, as many as 80 percent of refugees arriving in Sweden have no passports or identification documents. Swedish authorities are attempting to stop the influx.
The lone international terrorist incident in Switzerland was the assassination of Kazem Radjavi, an Iranian dissident and brother of Iranian Mojahedin leader Massoud Radjavi. The investigating judge concluded in his report that evidence pointed to the direct involvement of one or more official Iranian services in the murder. He identified 13 suspects, all of whom had traveled to Switzerland on official Iranian passports. Most had traveled together, and their passports, as well as their airplane tickets, had been obtained at the same time. The Swiss Government condemned the assassination and summoned an Iranian Embassy officer in Bern to express its strong concern over the investigation findings. In October, the examining magistrate formally requested Iranian cooperation in investigating the assassination and submitted a series of questions regarding the case to judicial authorities in Tehran. There has been no known response. However, the Iranian Embassy has filed a complaint against the newspaper La Suisse under Article 296 of the Swiss Penal Code, which prohibits “insults (to) a foreign state in the person of its chief executive, diplomatic representative, or its government.” The Iranian Government objected to the way the publication had reported the murder and the implications of official Iranian involvement.
Two Swiss employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who had been kidnapped in Lebanon in October 1989, were freed in August. Emmanual Christen was released in Beirut on 8 August, and his colleague Elio Erriquez was freed five days later. The Swiss Government had approached a number of governments in an effort to secure the release of its citizens, as did the ICRC. Upon the hostages’ return to Switzerland, the Swiss Government expressed thanks to the Governments of Libya, Algeria, Syria, and Iran, as well as the Palestine Liberation Organization, for their assistance in gaining the release of the two captives. The Swiss Government declared that it did not negotiate with the kidnappers and that it paid no ransom or other favors in exchange for their release. The identity of the kidnappers remains unclear.
Aluaro Baragiola-Lojacano, a Red Brigades terrorist who was sentenced to life imprisonment in November 1989 for the assassination of an Italian judge, appealed his case to a higher court in April. The Ticino Cantonal Court of Appeals upheld the conviction but reduced his sentence to 17 years.
In October, the Swiss Federal Council issued a report and suggested specific measures that broaden the concept of national security to include nonmilitary threats such as terrorism. It is still unclear how this report will affect Switzerland’s approach to counterterrorist issues.
Terrorism in Turkey escalated in 1990 with more than a dozen major political assassinations as well as robberies and bombings associated with terrorist organizations. Most of these were domestic incidents directed against Turkish targets. All 12 international terrorist incidents were directed against US interests. Dev Sol, the separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), the Turkish Workers and Peasant Liberation Army (TIKKO), and other terrorist groups remain active throughout Turkey.
The terrorist organization Dev Sol, the most active of these groups, claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks on Western and pro-Western interests, as well as domestic security officials. The most senior victim was the retired Deputy Chief of the National Intelligence Service, Hiram Abbas, murdered in Istanbul on 26 September. In early November, Dev Sol assassinated an Istanbul public prosecutor. Member discipline in Dev Sol, fostered by the threat of retribution against those who cooperate with the authorities, has hindered government efforts to prosecute terrorists. In October, Binbir Pembgul, a young woman who threw a pipe bomb at the US Consulate in Istanbul in 1989, was set free by a military court after the prosecutor claimed the military had no jurisdiction in the case. Charges against her are still pending in civil courts.
Radical Islamic fundamentalists are believed responsible for a number of murders in Turkey. Targets have included prominent defenders of Turkey’s secularism, including Prof. Muammer Aksoy in January, in Ankara; journalist Cetin Emec in March, in Istanbul; and former deputy of the Turkish Parliament Bahriye Ucok in October, in Ankara. These murders have been claimed by several Islamic groups, including the so-called Islamic Movement Organization, of which little is known.
Terrorist activity by separatists, particularly by the PKK, continued in Turkey’s southeastern region, with acts of murder, arson, and destruction against both officials and civilians. The PKK claims it is targeting government interests because of a lack of government response to continuing social and economic problems plaguing Kurds in the south-central provinces. PKK insurgency, abetted by Turkey’s Middle Eastern neighbors, continues to present a significant challenge to government security forces. The PKK received safehaven in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
The surge in terrorist activity resulted in a series of government measures designed to combat terrorism. Government forces mounted numerous offensive operations against the PKK resulting in significant numbers of arrests and casualties. New counterterrorist measures went into effect in April following a summit involving the leaders of all parliamentary political parties. These comprehensive measures include doubling sentences for those convicted of cooperating with separatists and an expansion of the regional governor’s powers to expel suspected terrorists from the region.
International terrorist incidents decreased in the United Kingdom from 10 attacks in 1989 to only one in 1990. However, deadly acts of domestic terrorism by the PIRA continued in the United Kingdom, especially in Northern Ireland.
In 1990, 76 lives were lost in sectarian and political violence in Northern Ireland, compared with 61 in 1989. More than 50 were killed in PIRA attacks, including six in England and on the European Continent. As a measure of PIRA ruthlessness, in several incidents this year, PIRA forced men to drive car bombs into military checkpoints by holding their families hostage and threatening to kill them.
PIRA conducted 19 attacks in mainland Britain in 1990, including the car-bomb assassination of Conservative Party member of Parliament Ian Gow and other attacks on current and former government figures. Several attacks in the United Kingdom and continental Europe demonstrated an increasing PIRA tendency toward indiscriminate violence. In June, PIRA claimed credit for a bomb attack against the Carlton Club in downtown London, a popular haunt of Conservative Party members of Parliament. Two people were seriously wounded, and several passers-by, including two Americans, were injured. In July, PIRA claimed responsibility for a bomb attack against the London Stock Exchange.
Semtex is the explosive of choice in bombings in Britain. PIRA is believed to have received large quantities of the Czechoslovak-made plastic explosive from Libya in the 1980s. Other explosives—including some “homemade” from agricultural chemicals—are also used in Northern Ireland.
“Loyalist” or “Unionist” paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland also continued to commit terrorist acts. Nineteen deaths were attributed to Protestant paramilitaries in 1990.
Britain renewed diplomatic relations with the governments of Iran and Syria in 1990. The United Kingdom broke diplomatic relations with Iran in 1989 after Iran’s death threat against author Salman Rushdie. Relations with Syria were severed after an April 1986 attempt to bomb an El Al aircraft, with the involvement of Syrian intelligence agents.
An Iranian student named Mehrdad Kokabi is under arrest and has been charged in connection with at least one of the several 1989 bookstore bombings in the United Kingdom related to the Salman Rushdie affair. Several others were deported from the United Kingdom in 1990 for their involvement in attempts to find and kill Rushdie.
In 1990, British investigators and their US and German counterparts continued the intensive investigation of the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. British legal authorities continue to cooperate with their counterparts in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands in investigations of PIRA terrorist incidents there. Similarly, British officials continued to follow the investigation and the trial in France of the crew of the Eskund, a ship captured while en route to deliver Libyan arms to the PIRA in Ireland.
Yugoslav Government condemns international terrorism and has played a positive role within the UN and the Nonaligned Movement in issues relating to terrorism. In 1990, Yugoslavia continued to take a more active stance against international terrorism. This is due in part to a growing recognition that international terrorism represents a danger to Yugoslavia itself.
Yugoslavia has long suffered from sporadic and generally minor outbreaks of terrorism, mainly perpetrated by extremist émigré groups hostile to the Communist regime.
Although there were no significant terrorist acts in Yugoslavia in 1990 by such groups, Yugoslav interests abroad were attacked. Offices of Yugoslav Airlines in Brussels and Sydney and Yugoslav diplomatic missions in Germany and Belgium suffered bomb attacks. The perpetrators remain unknown, but Yugoslav officials charged that these actions were carried out by extremist émigré groups.
A new development in Yugoslavia in 1990 has been the appearance of armed groups, often connected with the tensions that are rampant among the various national groups in the country. The most conspicuous of these armed groups appeared in areas of Croatia that are primarily inhabited by Serbs. Armed bands of civilians established roadblocks, disrupted traffic, and on some occasions fired at or harassed travelers. Bomb explosions damaged some railroad lines. On two occasions persons were killed by gunfire in what appeared to be politically motivated violence. In one of these instances a police patrol car was ambushed by unknown persons; one police officer was killed and another wounded. Yugoslav authorities have charged that terrorist actions are being carried out or prepared in the Yugoslav Province of Kosovo, whose population is 90 percent Albanian. There are no indications that any terrorist actions took place in Kosovo in 1990, although press accounts suggest significant quantities of arms have been smuggled into the province.
In the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a political party called the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), which claims to trace its origins back to a notorious turn-of-the-century terrorist group, won the most seats in the first multiparty election in Macedonia since World War II. IMRO states that it has renounced terrorism, but it has made a number of extreme statements. Some IMRO members, according to press reports, have made “death threats” against politicians associated with other groups.
In the past, Yugoslavia’s political ties to the Middle East have led it to take a tolerant stand toward the prosecution or extradition of international terrorists found on its soil, most notoriously in 1985 when it allowed Palestine Liberation Front leader Abu Abbas to leave Yugoslavia, following his role in the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro, in which an American citizen was murdered.
In more recent years, however, the Yugoslav authorities have become more aware of the threat posed by international terrorism, and they now appear to be more willing to act against international terrorists operating in or transiting Yugoslav territory. The Yugoslav security services act to prevent terrorism, and they have cooperated fully and actively in international terrorist investigations. Within the limits imposed by serious financial constraints, the decline of central authority in the country, and the large number of international visitors, the Yugoslav authorities have acted to reduce the abuse of Yugoslav territory by terrorists.
Latin American Regional Overview
The number of international terrorist incidents in Latin America rose to 162 in 1990, higher than any other region. Even so, these figures represent only a small percentage of the total number of terrorist acts committed in Central and South America. In most Latin American countries, the primary targets of guerrillas, narcotics traffickers, and others who engage in terrorism have been domestic—government and law enforcement officials, opinionmakers, and politicians. This was especially true in Colombia, Peru, and El Salvador where the levels of violence have been extremely high. In Peru, for example, of the more than 3,400 terrorist-related deaths in 1990 only six were of foreigners.
Roughly two-thirds of all anti-US attacks worldwide took place in Latin America, where US citizens and interests were the principal foreign targets of terrorist groups. Various groups have been operating for years in Central and South America and share a radical leftist ideology that, combined with a visible US presence in the region and historical antipathy toward the United States, contributes to the large number of attacks against Americans. Two Americans were killed in 1990—one in Peru and one in Panama—and 31 were wounded. Chile was the most common site of anti-American attacks in Latin America. The number of anti-US attacks there increased from 21 in 1989 to 61 in 1990. Most of these were bombings of Mormon Church facilities in Santiago and other parts of the country.
Although narcoterrorist and guerrilla violence continued to plague Colombia, the number of anti-American incidents fell from 39 in 1989 to 25 in 1990. In Peru, with two murderous insurgent groups—Sendero Luminoso and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)—there were 22 anti-American incidents in 1990.
Five of six international terrorist incidents in Bolivia were directed against US interests. Although the investigation continues, virtually no progress was made in the prosecution of Zarate Willka members charged with the 1989 murder of two US Mormon missionaries or the 1988 attack on then Secretary of State George Shultz. The government changed prosecutors five times and had not named a judge to hear the case by year’s end.
The Nestor Paz Zamora Commission (CNPZ), a new Bolivian group named after the deceased brother of President Jaime Paz Zamora, conducted its first terrorist attacks in La Paz during 1990. The CNPZ claims to be part of a renovated National Liberation Army (ELN), the group led by Che Guevara during the 1960s. The CNPZ began with the abduction of Bolivian Coca-Cola President Jorge Lonsdale in June, later murdering him in December just as the Bolivian security forces were mounting a rescue attempt. The CNPZ also claimed responsibility for an assault in October on the US Marine house in La Paz that killed one Bolivian guard and wounded another. The group also took credit for a second bomb attack on the same day that destroyed a monument honoring John F. Kennedy.
During 1990 more evidence surfaced pointing to cooperation between Peruvian and Bolivian terrorist groups. The investigation of the Marine house assault revealed that Peru’s Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement provided financial support and at least one member to counsel the Bolivian CNPZ terrorists in their operations. Two Sendero Luminoso members were captured in August near the border with Peru.
Terrorism in Chile increased significantly in 1990, notably since the March inauguration of the country’s first democratically elected government in 16 years. International terrorist incidents rose from 23 in 1989 to 64 in 1990. Despite the democratic transition, radical leftist Chilean splinter groups remain committed to armed struggle and have been responsible for virtually all of the incidents. The dissident faction of the Communist-affiliated Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) and the Lautaro Youth Movement (MJL) have been the primary assailants.
Chile topped the list of nations worldwide where anti-US attacks have occurred, with 61 incidents in 1990. Although most of these have been directed against US-related property, such as Mormon churches and US-Chilean binational centers, two incidents appear to have been intended to cause US casualties. The November bombing of an organized softball game killed a Canadian citizen and severely wounded a US Embassy officer. The bombing of a restaurant during the same month in the coastal city of Vina del Mar seriously injured three US sailors and five other people, including one British tourist. Both incidents were claimed by the dissident faction FPMR/D of the FPMR.
Despite the new government’s efforts to address the issue of the repressive policies of the Pinochet regime, leftist Chilean terrorists conducted lethal assaults against former officers in the military government as part of their own campaign. Terrorists received a major boost in January when more than 40 suspected members of the FPMR and FPMR/D staged a mass jail break. Several of the escapees had been involved in the 1986 attempt against Pinochet and presumably have access to arms caches.
The FPMR conducted several acts of domestic terrorism in 1990, including the attempted assassination of former military junta member Gustavo Leigh and another general; the murder of a retired Carabinero colonel; and the daytime shooting of an Army officer assigned to General Pinochet’s security detail. The MJL continued to conduct armed robberies that, on several occasions, resulted in the deaths of security personnel. In November, Lautaro killed four security personnel in an attack on a hospital aimed at freeing one of their comrades.
The disruption of the internal intelligence apparatus resulting from the democratic transition has hindered the new government’s attempts to control terrorism. The National Information Center (CNI), which was responsible for investigating terrorism under the military regime, was disbanded by President Pinochet before he left office.
Under President Aylwin, the civilian investigative police have been hampered by an outgoing reorganization aimed at rooting out corrupt elements. To compensate for the disruption in intelligence gathering, the Aylwin government sought to enhance the intelligence capability of the national uniformed police (Carabineros).
As part of its effort to combat terrorism, the new government sought a comprehensive package of legal reforms. These would address the alleged human rights abuses associated with the military jurisdiction and penalties for those accused of terrorist crimes under Pinochet. The government also requested the appointment of special judges to investigate the MJL and the more dramatic acts of terrorism.
The Chilean Government is cooperating with the US Government to resolve the murder of former Chilean Foreign Minister and Pinochet-critic Orlando Letelier and an American Associate, Ronni Moffitt, who were killed in a car bombing in Washington, DC, in 1976. Legislation that permits the transfer of jurisdiction of the case from military to civilian courts was passed by the Chilean Congress in December 1990 and went into effect in February 1991.
Colombia’s democratic government faces opposition from active leftist guerrilla groups, well-financed narcotics trafficking organizations, and rightwing paramilitary groups. All three use terrorism, primarily against domestic targets.
International terrorist incidents in Colombia declined for the second consecutive year, down from 46 in 1989 to 27 in 1990.
The most significant terrorist attacks in Colombia during 1990 were committed by the loose conglomerate of narcotics traffickers known as the Medellin Cartel. The Cartel and other traffickers, primarily criminally motivated, continued their use of terrorist tactics to hamper government attempts to impede their activities. In August 1989, following a string of political assassinations attributed to the Cartel, the government launched a crackdown. The narcotics traffickers responded with a violent campaign of bombings and assassinations of political figures and policemen that continued until mid-1990, when the traffickers declared a truce.
Suspected narcoterrorists assassinated the two leading leftist presidential candidates in March and April 1990. In May, narcotics traffickers began a campaign to kill policemen in Medellin, inflicting more than 400 police deaths. Following the August inauguration of President Gaviria, narcotics traffickers focused on kidnapping prominent Colombians, many of whom were journalists. An abducted German journalist was released in late 1990 but, by year’s end, the traffickers still held nearly a dozen hostages. One of them, the daughter of former Colombian President Julio Cesar Turbay, was killed in January 1991 during a police attempt to rescue her.
The leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) conducted virtually all of the attacks against US interests in Columbia. To protest President Bush’s visit to the Cartagena Summit in February, the ELN kidnapped three US citizens living in Columbia but released them shortly thereafter. Three US petroleum engineers abducted in November in northern Colombia were still in captivity by year’s end. The ELN also crossed the border into Venezuela to conduct operations, including the kidnapping of a Venezuelan farmer in January.
The Colombian Government enjoyed significant success during 1990 by continuing its firm policy toward the insurgents, demanding they demobilize before they could participate in the political process. A former M-19 leader, whose rebel group turned in its weapons in March 1990, finished third in the balloting during the nation’s Presidential election. Another group, the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), agreed to refrain from military operations and to begin demobilization.
The Colombian armed forces maintained pressure on the two rebel groups—the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, and the ELN—that rejected the government’s offer to disarm and join the political process. For the first time the military conducted a major assault on the FARC headquarters. In 1990, the Colombian Government also began implementing a judicial reform program it hopes will strengthen the government’s ability to convict terrorists.
The number of international terrorist incidents in El Salvador declined from nine in 1989 to two in 1990. This decline is more indicative of terrorist targeting—the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) has deliberately refrained from targeting foreigners—than of a decrease in overt political violence in the country.
The FMLN generally adhered to its pledge to halt attacks on civilian officials and the public transportation and telephone systems between March and October 1990. But in the last months of the year, during the rebels’ so-called national maneuver, the FMLN consistently caused civilian casualties in attacks on Salvadoran armed forces positions. The group also attacked or sabotaged numerous economic targets of no military significance. The FMLN’s indiscriminate use of fire-power resulted in more than 100 civilian casualties.
The FMLN carried out numerous attacks on important economic targets. In November, the FMLN conducted more than 100 attacks on the electrical power grid and two on major hydroelectric plants. Terrorist attacks on the electrical power system alone caused more than $10 million in damage. In December, terrorist attacks disabled 10 percent of the country’s telephone system.
The FMLN also attacked off-duty military personnel and military targets near civilian areas. Significant FMLN terrorist attacks include a drive-by attack on the home of an Army battalion commander; the assassination of an Army major as he returned from a class at the national university; and a mortar attack on the presidential office complex. In November, the FMLN hurled a bomb at a group of soldiers in San Salvador’s crowded central market, wounding nine civilians—among them four children—and two soldiers.
Chronic and profound deficiencies in the country’s judicial system continued to impede an effective counterterrorist policy during 1990. The government is hard pressed to effectively prosecute any case, whether it be an FMLN terrorist attack—such as the Zona Rosa killings in 1985—military abuses, or even non political crimes.
The case of Army officers and troops accused of murdering six Jesuit priests and two civilians in 1989 was remanded to trial. Although extrajudicial violence directed against suspected FMLN sympathizers by members of the military acting without official sanction is much less common than in the early 1980s, evidence indicates that such activity has not disappeared.
Military and public security forces kept up their efforts to preempt terrorist and insurgent activity by the FMLN. The armed forces captured more than 1,000 weapons and routinely provided security for many potential terrorist targets. The government also maintained a special counterterrorist unit for dealing with hostage rescue and other terrorist incidents.
Although the incidence of international terrorism rose, from four attacks in 1989 to seven in 1990, it was the escalating domestic political violence that continued to have the most impact on conditions in Guatemala. The three major Guatemalan guerrilla groups struck at many economic and nonmilitary targets, such as policemen, bridges, powerlines, government road repair facilities, telephone equipment, missionary medical facilities, and private farms. Guerrillas attacked an American missionary family living in the countryside, vandalized their home, and stole most of their personal property. Fortunately, none of the family members were injured.
Terrorism by rightwing extremists and members of the security forces also took many victims over the past year. Leftist politicians, students, unionists, journalists, members of human rights groups, and above all, indigenous rural people suspected of proguerrilla sympathies were assassinated or disappeared. The nation’s human rights ombudsman claims security forces were the main perpetrators of this violence. Security forces were suspected of involvement in the murder of a prominent leftwing Salvadoran politician who was visiting Guatemala in May. The government’s investigation into the murder reached no credible conclusions.
The military continued its ongoing battle against the guerrillas, losing about 100 soldiers and civil defense members. The government also sought to end guerrilla access to sanctuaries by working more closely with its neighbor, Mexico. In an effort to end the domestic conflict, the government supported informal peace talks between representatives of the guerrillas and various political, economic, and social sectors.
Although the number of international terrorist incidents declined in Honduras from eight in 1989 to two in 1990, the attacks were no less serious. In recent years these incidents have been directed against US interests, often US servicemen. In the most serious attack during 1990, the leftist Morazanist Patriotic Front (FPM) claimed responsibility for the ambush of a US Air Force bus in March that wounded eight airmen, two of them seriously.
The Cubans, Nicaraguan Sandinstas, and Salvadoran FMLN guerrillas continue to support the Honduran Popular Liberation Movement—Cinchoneros. The FPM is also suspected of receiving Cuban assistance. The FMLN probably continues to use Salvadoran refugee camps in Honduras for infiltrating its guerrillas into El Salvador.
The Honduran Armed Forces conducted sweeps of known guerrilla operating areas during the year. In August, an interdiction team discovered a van carrying concealed weapons at the Nicaraguan border. The van was driven by a French citizen, and the contents of the van indicated that the arms and documents were destined for the FMLN in El Salvador. During the same month, nine Cinchoneros members attempting to rob a bank were killed in an ambush by the Armed Forces. The security forces suffered four fatalities in the firefight.
There were no international terrorist incidents in Nicaragua during 1990. The Sandinista government, which turned over power to the democratically elected government of Violeta Chamorro in April 1990, had supported a number of international terrorist groups during its 10 years in power. This support ranged from public statements in support of specific terrorist actions to allowing Nicaraguan territory to be used as a weapons transshipment route. Nicaragua was also used as a training and organization base for a variety of international terrorist groups. Despite the election of a new government, the Salvadoran FMLN, Basque ETA, and various other groups that have engaged in international terrorism continued to operate in Nicaragua. These organizations established a presence in Nicaragua during the former Sandinista regime and appear to continue to rely on contacts with the Sandinistas, who retain full control of the police and armed forces.
The Chamorro government secured passage of tough legislation forbidding the use of Nicaraguan territory for the purposes of support for foreign subversion. Investigations of reported FMLN support bases in Nicaragua are a sign of government resolve to carry out this policy. However, President Chamorro allowed the FMLN to operate a political office in Managua, and supplies for Salvadoran insurgents continued to originate from or pass through Nicaraguan territory. The Sandinista-controlled military publicly admitted that four of its officers sold surface-to-air missiles to the FMLN without Nicaraguan Government approval.
Since the ouster of General Noriega, most acts of violence in Panama have been attributed to a shadowy M-20 organiztion, purportedly dedicated to destabilizing the Panamanian Government. There were four international terrorist incidents in 1990. Domestic terrorism has tended to consist of low-level assaults and has included bank robberies, bombings, and threats against government officials.
In the most serious international incident in Panama during 1990, an unidentified individual threw a grenade into a crowded disco in Panama City in March that killed a US service member and injured 15 others. Fourteen Panamanians were also injured in the attack. M-20 claimed responsibility for this attack and for the drive-by shootings at the US Embassy and Marine security guard residence in June. In October, a grenade attack caused some property damage at the Austrian Consulate; the motive and perpetrators remain unknown.
The government has taken steps to end the support provided by the Noriega regime to the Colombian FARC and Salvadoran FMLN. Despite these efforts, FARC reportedly continues to operate in areas where the government has little control, especially near the Colombian border. The government continued to study increased security measures at regional airports in response to the hijacking in mid-1990 of two Panamanian aircraft, allegedly by Colombian narcotics traffickers.
When an investigation revealed that a ship registered in Panama, the Tiny Star, was used to launch the Palestine Liberation Front’s abortive attack on Israel in May, Panamanian authorities withdrew the ship’s registration.
The number of international terrorist incidents increased in Peru from 21 in 1989 to 28 in 1990. An even greater cause for concern, the number of politically related deaths in 1990 climbed to more than 3,400—surpassing the nearly 3,200 deaths recorded in 1989. Peru also topped the list for foreign fatalities in the region in 1990. As many as six foreigners visiting Peru may have been killed by Sendero Luminoso (SL) during the year. In January, two French tourists traveling in the southern Sierra were taken off a bus and shot by SL. An American was shot near the city of Cuzco in February; his body showed signs of torture. Two British ornithologists were apparently kidnapped and killed by Sendero Luminoso in the northern coca producing Upper Huallaga Valley in June. In November, a Japanese citizen and five other people were killed in Lima’s neighboring Junin department, an increasingly dangerous area.
Both Sendero Luminoso and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) conducted terrorist attacks against US interests, mostly property bombings designed to gain publicity. During 1990, SL detonated explosives at the US, Soviet, Chinese, German, and Japanese Embassies. In December, Sendero Lumioso was responsible for a driverless car with a bomb inside that rolled to a stop 100 yards from the US Embassy in Lima and exploded. No injuries or damage resulted.
The leftist MRTA carried out most of the anti-US incidents in 1990 with 11 attacks. It commemorated the group’s anniversary in November by conducting a campaign against US targets that included bombings of US businesses, the US Consulate, and a US-Peruvian binational center. The MRTA also detonated a bomb in the park adjacent to the US Ambassador’s residence. Immediately after the explosion, five rounds of gunfire struck the residence from a passing vehicle.
Insurgent violence in 1990 continued to expand throughout the country, mostly in rural areas, marking the most violent year since Sendero Luminoso launched its armed struggle in 1980. Terrorist gunmen killed the former Defense, Labor, and Social Security Ministers in Lima. There also was an upsurge in kidnappings of prominent Peruvians by Peru’s smaller terrorist group, MRTA.
To combat the wave of political violence, the government expanded the territory under emergency zone status. Constitutional rights are suspended in these zones, and the military is responsible for internal security. Eleven of Peru’s 24 departments were under state-of-emergency status during some part of 1990. However, both the military and the police suffer from a lack of adequate supplies, security training, and the coordination necessary to conduct effective counterterrorist operations.
President Fujimori, inaugurated in July, promised new reforms that include speedier trials of terrorist suspects. In December, the President sought a constitutional amendment to permit the trial of accused terrorists in military courts. Prosecution through the civilian courts moves slowly, and both prosecutors and judges have been threatened by terrorist organizations. Between 50 and 75 percent of all accused terrorists in Peruvian prisons have not yet been brought to trial.
After more than two years in court, Osman Morote, SL’s number-two leader, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on terrorist charges. He is the most senior terrorist figure to be charged and convicted in Peru since Sendero Luminoso embarked on its violent campaign in 1980. Four other codefendants were sentenced to lesser, but lengthy, prison terms. The trial of MRTA leader Victor Polay was suspended in July when he and more than 40 other suspected MRTA members escaped from jail.
Trinidad and Tobago
Although there were no international terrorist incidents in Trinidad and Tobago during 1990, the government successfully suppressed a coup attempt that included the taking of hostages, including Prime Minister Robinson, in the Parliament and state television facilities. The government is prosecuting 114 members of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen (JAM), a local Muslim group, on charges of treason and murder for its 27 July-1 August attempt to overthrow the government. Several JAM members including its leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, had traveled on several occasions to Libya, one of several sources of funding for the JAM.
Middle Eastern Regional Overview
The number of international terrorist incidents in the Middle East dropped sharply, from 193 in 1989 to 63 in 1990. The incidence of Middle Eastern terrorist “spillover” into other parts of the world also declined from 43 to 21 attacks.
International terrorism by Palestinians declined. Although Iraq encouraged many of the Palestinian terrorist groups to conduct operations against the international coalition opposing Baghdad’s invasion of Kuwait, at year’s end no such attacks had been carried out.
Following the abortive 30 May Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) attack on the beaches at Tel Aviv, President Bush announced his decision to suspend the 18-month-old dialogue between the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The dialogue began in December 1988, after PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat publicly renounced terrorism, accepted UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and affirmed Israel’s right to exist.
The PLF is a constituent group of the PLO, and its leader, Abu Abbas, is a member o the PLO Executive Committee. After the attempted 30 May raid, the PLO refused US calls to condemn the attack, disassociate itself from the PLF, and take steps to discipline Abu Abbas.
A number of Palestinian groups, including the PLF and other members of the PLO, have made public statements supporting Iraq and opposing the multinational forces deployed to enforce the UN resolutions regarding Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Saddam Hussein has attempted to portray his aggression against Kuwait as part of the struggle for a Palestinian homeland. Iraq’s belligerence and promise of support have attracted those groups long favoring the use of force to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. The United States rejects the linkage of these two issues. The PLF, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) are among those who have threatened terrorist attacks against Western, Israeli, and moderate Arab targets in connection with the Gulf crisis.
No new Western hostages were kidnapped this year. Eight Western hostages—including two Americans, Robert Polhill and Frank Reed—were released. Although these are positive developments, Iranian-supported Hizballah members in Lebanon continue to hold some 14 Western hostages, six of them American citizens. Three of these hostages (Englishman Alec Collett, Italian Alberto Molinari, and American Lt. Col. William R. Higgins) are feared dead.
Despite the decline in the number of international terrorist incidents undertaken by Middle Eastern groups, domestic terrorism continued in Israel, the occupied territories and Lebanon. The 8 October Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) incident claimed the lives of 17 Arab civilians, killed by Israeli security forces. Internecine conflicts within and between Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist groups added to the violence.
Iraq’s sponsorship of Palestinian terrorist groups (discussed in detail in the section on State-Sponsored Terrorism) poses a great threat. Iran’s links to Hizballah, other Islamic fundamentalist groups, and the Palestinians strengthened during the year, increasing the potential that these groups will continue to use terrorism to advance their political goals. The competition for influence in politically unstable Lebanon could also spawn terrorist attacks.
There were no acts of international terrorism in Algeria in 1990. As a longstanding policy, Algeria has permitted radical groups, some of whom engage in terrorism, to live and work in Algeria. Algeria draws a distinction between terrorism, which it condemns, and violence on the part of national liberation movements, which it believes can be legitimate. The ANO, for example, was allowed to keep a representative in Algiers even after Algerian officials condemned an attempt to kidnap an ANO defector. Algiers also allowed representatives of two terrorist groups—the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Abu Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Front—to appear on national television to rally popular support for Iraq.
Algerian officials are increasingly concerned that domestic groups may resort to terrorism. That concern has grown since August when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and since Islamic fundamentalist groups gained a majority of seats in local elections. However, at year’s end no such incidents had been reported.
The most significant terrorist incident of 1990 was the assassination of Dr. Rifat al Mahgoub, Speaker of the People’s Assembly, on 12 October. Dr. Mahgoub’s assassins are believed to be associated with radical Islamic elements linked to the assassination of President Anwar Sadat.
There were no terrorist attacks against US personnel in Egypt in 1990, but two attacks were carried out against Israeli citizens. In the first, an Israeli tour bus was ambushed on 4 February between Cairo and Ismailiya, Egypt. The attack, claimed by members of the PIJ, left 11 people, including nine Israelis, dead and 17 others injured. The second terrorist incident occurred 25 November when a lone gunman dressed in an Egyptian paramilitary uniform crossed the Egyptian-Israeli border near Eilat and opened fire on a bus and three vehicles carrying Israeli soldiers and workers. Four Israelis were killed, and 27 were wounded. The perpetrator fled back across the border where he was immediately arrested by Egyptian authorities. Egyptian officials also report the arrests of several suspects in the Mahgoub assassination and Israeli tour bus attack. Egypt has no specific laws dealing with terrorism as a separate issue, although the state of emergency dating from the assassination of President Sadat remains in effect.
The Egyptian Government has waged a campaign to limit the terrorist threat posed by Islamic extremists, Egyptian nationalist groups, and radical Palestinians. Twenty members of Egypt’s Revolution—a radical group espousing the militant nationalism of former Egyptian President Nasser—are on trial for the May 1987 attack on US Embassy personnel and for earlier attacks on Israeli diplomats. The Egyptian prosecution has requested the death penalty for 10 members of the group and life sentences for the rest.
Khaled Abdel Naser, son of the late president, returned to Egypt from Yugoslavia after three years in exile. He has been identified as the head of the Egypt’s Revolution organization. He too is on trial for masterminding the group’s attacks on US and Israeli interests.
Israel remained the prime target of Palestinian terrorist attacks during 1990. Escalating tensions resulted in a number of serious incidents during the year.
On 30 May, Israeli forces foiled an attempted seaborne assault against the Tel Aviv beachfront. Four terrorists were killed and 12 captured. The attack was carried out by the Palestine Liberation Front, led by Abu Abbas, with substantial assistance from Libya. PLO Chairman Arafat’s failure to take concrete actions against the PLF, a constituent PLO member, led to the suspension of US dialogue with the PLO.
Other terrorist attacks against Israel in 1990 include:
- A series of letter bombs addressed to Jewish and Christian community leaders were discovered at Tel Aviv’s central post office in early January.
- Nine Israelis were killed and 17 wounded in Egypt on 4 February when their tour bus was ambushed by Arab terrorists. The Palestine Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On 28 May, one person was killed and nine others wounded when a pipe bomb exploded in a crowded Jerusalem market. Separate unconfirmed claims of responsibility were made by the Palestine Islamic Jihad, the Abu Musa group, and the General Command of Fatah’s Al-Asifah Forces.
- On 23 June, a pipe bomb exploded on the beach in Tel Aviv, killing a Canadian tourist and injuring 20 other people.
- On 21 October, a Palestinian stabbed and killed three Israelis and wounded another in Jerusalem. The attack was claimed by two anonymous callers, one claiming to be a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and another claiming to represent Fatah’s Force 17 organization.
In early January, a Jewish extremist group known as the Sicarii claimed responsibility for planting a dummy grenade under the car of the wife of Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Peres. The Sicarii also threatened attacks on four Israeli members of Parliament because of their support for a Palestinian peace demonstration. Israeli authorities arrested a suspected leader of the group in June. Israeli peace activists and prominent Palestinian figures received a number of death threats from supporters of Israeli extremist leader Meir Kahane following his assassination on 5 November in New York.
Palestinian groups—both PLO hardliners and Syrianbacked factions outside the PLO—attempted more than a dozen cross-border raids from Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. In most cases, the precise targets of the attacks are unclear. Some border infiltrations were the work of disgruntled individuals acting alone or with a few colleagues, but with no discernible connection to any organized group. On 25 November, an Egyptian policeman, believed to have acted alone, ambushed a tour bus of Israelis near the Egyptian border and killed four Israelis.
Israel has consistently taken a strong stand against terrorism and has devoted significant resources to anti-terrorist planning and training.
Israel places strong emphasis on security measures designed to protect its citizens and visitors, the best known of which deal with protection for the Israeli national air carrier El Al at home and abroad. Public awareness of the terrorist threat is also stressed. Ordinary citizens are trained in counterterrorist tactics, and even schoolchildren receive instruction in bomb detection.
Israel also uses more forceful measures to thwart or deter attacks. Israeli military forces have launched preemptive and retaliatory air strikes and commando raids against suspected terrorist installations in neighboring Lebanon. Israel continued to hold Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, a prominent Hizballah cleric from South Lebanon, whom Israeli forces abducted in July 1989, apparently in an effort to exchange him for Israeli hostages and POW’s held by Lebanese and other groups.
A number of violent incidents in Israel in 1990, such as the 2 December stabbing of three Israelis on a bus near Tel Aviv, increased Israeli fears that the Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories is spilling over into Israel. During 1990, the West Bank and Gaza were sealed off from Israel on several occasions when the threat was deemed to be especially high. In December, Israeli authorities issued identity cards to a large number of Palestinian activists on the West Bank, barring them from entering Israel. Israel also issued deportation orders for four Arabs accused of being activists in the Islamic group Hamas.
Israeli courts generally hand out strict prison sentences to those convicted of terrorist attacks. The captured terrorists from the failed 30 May seaborne assault near Tel Aviv received 30-year prison sentences in December. In October, Mahmud Abed Atta, a US citizen who is a member of the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), was extradited from the United States to Israel where he will face trial for a 1984 attack on a civilian bus.
In December, an Israeli prison review panel released three convicted members of the Jewish Underground after they had served six years of their 10-year sentences. The three had been convicted of murdering three Arab students, wounding over 30 others, and planting explosives. They were originally given life sentences in 1985, but Israeli President Chaim Herzog commuted the sentences to 10 years in 1989.
Over the course of the year, a Jordan-based leader of the Palestine Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for several attacks against Israel and repeatedly threatened US and Israeli interests. Jordanian authorities briefly detained five PIJ members in June. The PIJ has threatened Western interests and has targeted US and other officials for assassination.
Escalating Arab-Israeli tensions throughout 1990 raised concerns that the Palestinian uprising in the Israeli-occupied territories might spill over into Jordan. The number of armed infiltrations across the demarcation boundary with Israel increased in 1990. These infiltrations were carried out mainly by individuals with no known connection to any political organization. In July, Jordanian authorities intercepted an armed Palestinian guerrilla squad attempting to infiltrate from Syria.
The Jordanian Government is committed to the fight against terrorism. Jordan has increased security along its borders to prevent infiltrations and has cooperated in international counterterrorist efforts.
The Kuwaiti Government has opposed terrorism and has cooperated with other governments, including the United States, in this regard, both before and after the 2 August invasion. Despite pressure from terrorist groups in Lebanon, the Amir consistently refused to pardon 15 pro-Iranian Shia terrorists imprisoned in Kuwait for the December 1983 wave of bombings in which the US Embassy was attacked. After the Iraqi invasion, the prisoners, all members of the Dawa Party, either escaped or were released, according to press reports.
Before the Iraqi invasion, Kuwait was concerned about a terrorist threat from Iran, largely via Tehran’s manipulation of Kuwaiti Shia. In May, four pro-Iranian Kuwaiti Shia were tried in Kuwait’s State Security Court for numerous subversive acts, including attempting to blow up a Kuwait Airways building in 1988 and complicity in a failed bombing attempt in 1987. One of the accused was implicated in the 1989 Hajj bombing in Mecca. The defendants were acquitted on all counts on 18 June 1990. Iran had severely criticized the trial. Earlier in the year, a large number of Iranians, termed infiltrators by the Kuwaiti press, entered Kuwait illegally by sea. Most were captured within days of their entry.
While the number of international terrorist incidents in Lebanon fell to nine in 1990, from 16 in 1989 and 28 in 1988, and the local security situation improved somewhat later in 1990, the country remains deeply fractured, as it has for most of the past 16 years.
Until the 13 October ouster of dissident Gen. Michel Awn, the Lebanese central government controlled only a small part of the country. The bulk of Lebanon came under the control of Syria, Israel, and militias owing allegiance to particular individuals, including General Awn. Many domestic terrorist incidents occurred in 1990, mainly as a result of internecine struggles between the Lebanese factions.
Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya continue to support radical groups who engage in terrorism in Lebanon. These countries offer varying degrees of financial, military, and other support to such groups.
In its efforts to rebuild the country, the Lebanese Government has attempted to disband militias, increased pressure on Israel to withdraw from the south, and tried to expand its control southward, but it has had only limited success. The government has not been able to apprehend or prosecute terrorists but has frequently condemned terrorist incidents and called for the release of foreign hostages.
Several international terrorist groups including radical Palestinians, the Japanese Red Army, the Kurdish Worker’s Party, the Abu Nidal organization, and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenian (ASALA), maintain training facilities on Lebanese soil, chiefly in the Syriangarrisoned Bekaa Valley. Hizballah continues to hold a number of Western hostages, including six Americans. All have been maltreated by their captors, and some were reportedly exposed to poisonous substances such as arsenic. Others were kept chained for long periods of time. The United States continues to urge countries with influence over the hostage holders to use that influence to effect the hostages’ unconditional release and to secure an accounting of all hostages who may have died while in captivity.
An American who, with his wife, ran an orphanage in the Israeli self-declared security zone in South Lebanon, was assassinated by individuals believed to be local inhabitants, who apparently thought he was aiding the resettlement of East European Jews.
No Westerners were taken hostage in 1990. In fact, two Swiss hostages, Irish-British dual national Keenan, US hostages Polhill and Reed, one Belgian hostage, and two French hostages were released.
Saudi Government concern regarding terrorism deepened in the face of continued attacks from Iran and new threats from Iraq at the onset of the Gulf crisis. Pro-Iranian radical Shia terrorists were believed responsible for the assassination of three Saudi diplomats in Bangkok on 1 February and serious injury to another in the bombing of a Saudi Embassy vehicle in Ankara in January—undertaken in reaction to the Saudi execution of 16 Kuwaiti Shia in 1989 for their involvement in the Hajj bombings of that same year. Later in 1990, Iraq threatened to attack targets within the country, Saudi interests elsewhere in the Middle East and Europe, and Saudi officials and members of the royal family.
Terrorist acts are capital crimes under Saudi law. In addition to strong statements condemning several attacks Saudis abroad, the Foreign Ministry published a rebuttal in April of Iranian accusations against Saudi Arabia, including a list of Iran’s misdeeds over the past three years and specifically pinning responsibility for the 1989 Mecca bombings on the Iranian Government.
Saudi security officials continue to cooperate with US security agencies on information exchange and training programs. In March, the Saudis took steps to identify illegal residents and to either regularize their status or deport them. This process was accelerated during the Gulf crisis. The Saudis also put additional security measures in effect during the 1990 Hajj, which passed without a terrorist incident.
On 22 May 1990, the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) united with the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) to form the Republic of Yemen (ROY).
The PDRY remained on the US Government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism until unification. The new unified government was not placed on the terrorist list. However, regular discussions between the United States and Yemen, to ensure that the ROY provides no support to international terrorist groups, have continued since unification.
To address these concerns, the ROY put in place tighter procedures for issuing passports, particularly diplomatic passports, to non-Yemenis, including Palestinians. The government also stated that military training facilities would no longer be available to non-Yemenis. In the past, Palestinians were regularly issued PDRY passports and used a camp outside Aden for military training.