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Kadafi Heads 'Murder State,' Peres Declares

January 02, 1986|From Times Wire Services

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres on Wednesday accused Libya's leader, Col. Moammar Kadafi, of running a "murder state" that aids terrorists, and he appealed to world leaders to take punitive action.

Peres' speech fueled speculation that Israel might launch a revenge raid against targets in Libya similar to its Oct. 1 bombing of Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters in Tunisia.

Addressing the Israeli Parliament on the subject of last Friday's Arab terrorist attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports, Peres said, "Libya under Kadafi's leadership is not a state in which crime exists, but a state that deals in crime."

In Libya, meanwhile, Kadafi warned Wednesday that Israeli or American retaliation for the airport attacks would spark a "tit for tat" cycle of violence, with Libyans harassing "American citizens in their own streets."

Kadafi, speaking to a small group of Western reporters in his barracks in downtown Tripoli, said any attack on Libya would mean outright war in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

The Libyan strongman, whose regime has praised the Rome and Vienna raids as "heroic" but denied involvement, said his country would "welcome" an Israeli attempt to retaliate.

"If Israel acts against this action (in Rome and Vienna), there will be strong and furious counteractions by the Palestinians," Kadafi said. "Tit for tat. If you come back, we come back. . . .

"We have the right to follow American citizens in their own streets, and we have the right to follow Jews in occupied Palestine" if they retaliate, Kadafi said.

Peres, in his speech to Parliament, questioned why Libya, a key oil supplier to Europe, "is exempt from political, legal or economic punitive measures--as though one can maintain a murder state."

Peres said Libya is the headquarters for Abu Nidal, the radical Palestinian guerrilla leader suspected of masterminding the two airport attacks, which killed 18 people, including five Americans and an Israeli, and wounded more than 100 at the check-in counters of El Al Israel Airlines.

Abu Nidal's group, the prime minister said, carried out 33 operations during the past year, killing 90 people and injuring 350.

"From Libya come people with silencer-equipped pistols, and to Libya return people who have committed cold-blooded murder," Peres said.

Peres called for "clear sanctions against states which supply monetary aid, weapons, bases and shelters for terrorists."

On Tuesday, he urged world leaders to isolate Libya by cutting off air and sea links. The Reagan Administration has urged Western European nations to stop selling Libya spare parts for its oil industry in retaliation for its sponsorship of the airport attacks.

Peres declared that Israel will pursue Palestinian terrorists "with all the means at its disposal--in preemptive operations, in direct confrontation, in punitive operations," and will not let them derail Middle East peace efforts.

He told the lawmakers that military action alone cannot defeat terrorism unless Western countries stop showing "leniency toward violent organizations," including the PLO.

Peres appealed for better intelligence cooperation, improved security for planes, ships and airports, and international standards for punishment, extradition and protection against terrorists.

Despite the PLO's denial of responsibility and its condemnation of the airport attacks, Peres did not exonerate Yasser Arafat's organization. He said the PLO has created an atmosphere of violence that further discredits it as a potential partner for Middle East peace talks.

The PLO is "the chief terrorist organization," and Abu Nidal is "one PLO offspring," Peres said.

His 15-minute speech won across-the-board support in a parliamentary vote. But some left-wing lawmakers criticized Peres for lumping all PLO factions together.

"Why do you choose to ignore the fact that Abu Nidal is Arafat's enemy and even has put a price on Arafat's head?" asked Chaika Grossman of the socialist Mapam Party.

Abu Nidal leads a faction of Palestinian terrorists who broke off from Arafat's mainstream PLO in the 1970s. Using the name Revolutionary Council of Fatah, among others, they have claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on Israelis and on Palestinians whom they consider too moderate. They are also believed to have carried out the Nov. 23 hijacking of an EgyptAir jetliner to Malta that ended in the deaths of 60 people.

Abu Nidal, whose real name is Sabri Banna, has been sentenced to death in absentia by Arafat's own Fatah guerrilla group, and he has threatened to assassinate Arafat, President Reagan and Jordan's King Hussein.

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