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Investigators Aren't Ruling Out Political Motive : Police Say Opponent of Ayatollah Survives 2nd Car Bomb

January 20, 1988|MICHAEL CONNELLY | Times Staff Writer

A man whose rental car was destroyed by a bomb in Northridge this week had his own car demolished by a bomb earlier this month, Los Angeles police said Tuesday.

"Somebody wants a piece of him real bad," said Detective Steven Spear of the criminal conspiracy unit, which is investigating both incidents.

No suspects have been arrested in the bombings. Police declined to release the name of the apparent target of the bombs, a 37-year-old Iranian who officers said lives in the West San Fernando Valley.

Police described the Iranian as an opponent of the regime of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini but said there is no solid evidence linking the bombings to his political beliefs. After the first bombing, Jan. 1 in a Woodland Hills carport, police said the motive possibly was extortion.

Several Leads

"We have a lot of leads," Spear said. "But some lean toward political motivation and some don't. We're not sure. Right now, we are knee-deep in the investigation."

Police said the incidents began at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 1 when the man attempted to start his car in a carport at an apartment complex in the 5500 block of Canoga Avenue. A bomb placed under the car exploded, and the man was slightly injured.

Spear said that, after the bombing, the man began to take safety precautions, including routinely checking for explosive devices in the car he rented to replace his own.

However, the man drove the rental car Monday, apparently with a bomb planted under the driver's seat, to the 8500 block of Enfield Avenue in Northridge where a friend's car was broken down. It was after helping to make repairs on the second car that the man saw the bomb in his rental car, police said.

"He was putting his jumper cables on the floor in the back of the car when he saw a box under the driver's seat," Spear said. "He pulled it out a little bit and there it was."

Too Dangerous to Remove

The bomb squad was called and determined that the bomb was too dangerous to remove.

The neighborhood was evacuated, the car was packed with fire-retarding foam and surrounded with bales of hay, and the bomb was detonated. The car was destroyed in the blast, police said.

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