INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM AND SUPPORT FOR INSURGENT GROUPS
Since Qadhafi's rise to power, Libya has chronically employed
terrorism and revolutionary groups as primary instruments for
fulfilling its international ambitions. The main targets of terrorist
activity have been Libyan dissidents living abroad and prominent
political figures of moderate Arab and African countries. Qadhafi
has openly declared that "the revolution has destroyed those who
oppose it inside the country and now it must pursue the rest abroad."
A concerted drive to assassinate anti-Qadhafi exiles resulted
in the murder of eleven Libyan dissidents in 1980 and 1981. A
further five attacks were sponsored by Libya in 1985. Plots were
allegedly uncovered against President Habre of Chad in 1984 and
President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaïre in 1985. Earlier, there was
evidence that Libyan agents had targeted Arab moderates, including
Presidents Anwar Sadat and Husni Mubarak of Egypt, Jaafar al Numayri
of Sudan, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, King Hussein of Jordan,
and King Hassan II of Morocco.
Qadhafi has endeavored to undermine moderate Arab governments
judged not to be militant enough in their attitude toward Israel
or to be too closely tied to the West. Sudan under Numayei was
a priority target because it cooperated with the West and with
Egypt. Arms and funds were funneled to Sudanese rebels based in
Ethiopia in their guerrilla warfare against the central government.
In early 1983, Libya was accused of having masterminded a coup
attempt that miscarried badly. The coup plan called for Libyan
planes to bomb public buildings in the capital of Khartoum while
dissidents took over the center of the city. When the plan became
known and Egyptian and United States aircraft were deployed at
Numayri's request, Qadhafi called a halt to the operation. However,
in 1984, a plane believed to be Libyan attempted to destroy a
radio station at Umm Durman, Sudan, that was broadcasting condemnations
of Qadhafi's policies.
Since late 1980, Qadhafi has aided the Somali National Salvation
Front, an insurgent group operating out of Ethiopia. He has kindled
unrest in North Africa in the case of Algeria by providing money
and a base to dissidents, such as former president Ahmed Ben Bella,
and in Tunisia by recruiting dissidents from the large numbers
of Tunisian workers in Libya to conduct raids and sabotage.
In addition to repeated interventions in Chad in his efforts
to impose a leadership that would be amenable to Libyan influence,
Qadhafi has been accused of providing arms and training to Tuareg
tribesmen at a camp at Sabha. His goal has been to stir up the
Tuareg into demanding a union carved out of existing Sahelian
states, a union that would be under Libyan influence.
Libya has contributed to Niger's fears by its annexation of a
strip of territory on Niger's northern border and its backing
of a coup attempt against the president of Niger in 1976. Relations
with other African countries--including Senegal, Gambia, Togo,
Burkina Faso, and Zaire--have been embittered by Qadhafi's plotting
and support for radical dissidents.
Beginning in the 1980s, Qadhafi extended his activities into
Latin America and Asia. Arms and money allegedly have been made
available to insurgents in Guatemala and El Salvador, as well
as to the M-19 terrorist group in Colombia. In South Asia, Libya
has been involved with opponents of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi
governments and in Southeast Asia has provided help to Muslim
minorities, notably the Moro separatists on Mindanao in the Philippines.
In the Middle East, Qadhafi has been motivated by the aim of
destroying Israel and of punishing those Arab elements willing
to compromise in the interest of regional peace. The smaller,
more radical factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) have received training and arms from Libya as well as financing
for their activities. According to the State Department, Libya's
contribution in 1981 alone amounted to nearly US$100 million.
In 1985 attention was focused on Qadhafi's links with the Palestinian
terrorist Abu Nidal Organization, more formally known as the Fatah
Revolutionary Council, and with the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine-General Command. The Abu Nidal Organization was believed
responsible for the shooting of the Israeli ambassador in London,
the hijacking of an Egyptian airliner, and attacks on the El Al
and Trans World Airlines ticket counters at the Rome and Vienna
airports. The State Department charged that millions of dollars
in Libyan funds had gone to the Abu Nidal Organization, that its
top figures were resident in Libya, and that Libya had provided
training and travel documents to its teams mounting terrorist
attacks. Although other Middle Eastern states such as Syria and
Iran remained involved in terrorism, the State Department maintained
that Libya had become the most active, especially against American
and European travelers.
The affinity of Qadhafi for the Abu Nidal Organization and other
radical Palestinian factions is explained by the bitter enmity
they share for the main Arafat wing of the PLO, and for their
rejection of any form of negotiations with Israel. Terrorist attacks
of the kind they have successfully launched serve Qadhafi's purpose
by further elevating tensions in the Middle East and blighting
the prospects of peace initiatives.
Data as of 1987