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Text of President's Speech on Libya Raid

April 15, 1986| UPI

WASHINGTON Here is the text of President Reagan's nationally televised address Monday night on U.S. air strikes against Libya:

My fellow Americans, at 7 o'clock this evening Eastern time, air and naval forces of the United States launched a series of strikes against the headquarters, terrorist facilities and military assets that support Moammar Kadafi's subversive activities. The attacks were concentrated and carefully targeted to minimize casualties among the Libyan people, with whom we have no quarrel. From initial reports, our forces have succeeded in their mission.

Several weeks ago, in New Orleans, I warned Col. Kadafi we would hold his regime accountable for any new terrorist attacks launched against American citizens. More recently, I made it clear we would respond as soon as we determined conclusively who was responsible for such attacks.

On April 5 in West Berlin, a terrorist bomb exploded in a nightclub frequented by American servicemen. Sgt. Kenneth Ford and a young Turkish woman were killed and 230 others were wounded, among them some 50 American military personnel. This monstrous brutality is but the latest act in Col. Kadafi's reign of terror. The evidence is now conclusive, that the terrorist bombing of La Belle discotheque was planned and executed under the direct orders of the Libyan regime.

Orders From Tripoli

On March 25, more than a week before the attack, orders were sent from Tripoli to the Libyan People's Bureau in East Berlin to conduct a terrorist attack against Americans to cause maximum and indiscriminate casualties. Libya's agents then planted the bomb.

On April 4, the People's Bureau alerted Tripoli that the attack would be carried out the following morning. The next day they reported back to Tripoli on the great success of their mission.

Our evidence is direct, it is precise, it is irrefutable. We have solid evidence about other attacks Kadafi has planned against United States installations and diplomats and even American tourists. Thanks to close cooperation with our friends, some of these have been prevented. With the help of French authorities, we recently aborted one such attack--a planned massacre, using grenades and small arms, of civilians waiting in line for visas at an American embassy.

Col. Kadafi is not only an enemy of the United States, his record of subversion and aggression against the neighboring states in Africa is well-documented and well-known. He has ordered the murder of fellow Libyans in countless countries. He has sanctioned acts of terror in Africa, Europe and the Middle East as well as the Western Hemisphere. Today we have done what we had to do. If necessary we shall do it again. It gives me no pleasure to say that, and I wish it were otherwise.

Synonym for Barbarism

Before Kadafi seized power in 1969, the people of Libya had been friends of the United States. And I'm sure that today most Libyans are ashamed and disgusted that this man has made their country a synonym for barbarism around the world. The Libyan people are a decent people, caught in the grip of a tyrant.

To our friends and allies in Europe who cooperated in today's mission, I would only say you have the permanent gratitude of the American people. Europeans who remember history understand better than most that there is no security, no safety in the appeasement of evil. It must be the core of Western policy that there be no sanctuary for terror, and to sustain such a policy, free men and free nations must unite and work together.

Sometimes it is said that by imposing sanctions against Col. Kadafi, or by striking at his terrorist installations, we only magnify the man's importance. That the proper way to deal with him is to ignore him. I do not agree.

Long before I came into this office, Col. Kadafi had engaged in acts of international terror, acts that put him outside the company of civilized men. For years, however, he suffered no economic or political or military sanction. And the atrocities mounted in number as did the innocent dead and wounded.

Not in American Tradition

And for us to ignore, by inaction, the slaughter of American civilians and American soldiers, whether in nightclubs or airline terminals, is simply not in the American tradition. When our citizens are abused or attacked anywhere in the world on the direct orders of a hostile regime, we will respond so long as I'm in this Oval Office.

Self-defense is not only our right, it is our duty. It is the purpose behind the mission undertaken tonight, a mission fully consistent with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. We believe that this preemptive action against his terrorist installations will not only diminish Col. Kadafi's capacity to export terror, it will provide him incentives and reasons to alter his criminal behavior.

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