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Japanese Terrorist Sought in USO Blast in Naples

April 16, 1988|WILLIAM D. MONTALBANO | Times Staff Writer

ROME — Italian police hunted a wanted Japanese terrorist Friday and warned that the bomb he is believed to have planted outside a USO club in Naples could signal a new round of attacks against American targets.

"We must be alert," said Ansoino Andreassi, chief of Italy's anti-terrorist police. "This kind of attack comes in an international context. There have been anti-U.S. attacks in other countries. We can't say we have heard the last word."

Four Italian passers-by and a U.S. Navy petty officer were killed in the bombing in Naples on Thursday night that police blamed on Junzo Okudaira, a 39-year-old member of the terrorist Japanese Red Army. Okudaira, who had been staying at a Naples hotel on a false Taiwanese passport, is wanted internationally for a long series of attacks on Western embassies in Europe and Asia. His photograph is prominently displayed in anti-terrorist police offices around the world.

Meanwhile, in Newark, N.J., on Friday, a public defender was assigned to represent a Japanese arrested Tuesday after three powerful bombs were found in his car on the New Jersey Turnpike. (Story on Page 2.) Quoting the Japanese Foreign Ministry, news service reports from Tokyo said the man, Yu Kikumura, also is a suspected member of the Japanese Red Army.

And in Spain on Friday, a bomb exploded outside a U.S. Air Force communications relay station east of Madrid. It caused substantial damage, but no one was injured.

15 People Wounded

Fifteen people were wounded in the Naples blast, four of them American naval personnel. A large number of U.S. servicemen at a party for crewmen of the frigates Paul and Capodanno were spared the worst effects of the explosion because they were in the club's main reception hall, which is in the basement.

A spokesman for the 6th Fleet, which is headquartered in the southern Italian port, identified the dead American as Petty Officer 3rd Class Angela Santos, 21, of Ocala, Fla., who was a radio operator. The Italian victims included a housewife, two street vendors and a district attorney.

The police, assuming that Okudaira was acting for some Middle East terrorist organization, were weighing two different claims of responsibility for the attack outside the United Service Organization club on bustling Calata San Marco in downtown Naples.

One claim, telephoned to the offices here of the French news agency Agence France-Presse, said the blast was the work of a gang calling itself the Organization of Jihad Brigades.

"Imperialist Americans must die two years after their barbarous attack against the Libyan Arab state," a man said in accented English, referring to the United States' 1986 air raids on targets in Libya. Libya's ambassador to Italy denied that his government was in any way connected with the attack.

The caller warned that there would be further attacks against Americans.

The second claim, from a previously unknown group with a similar name, was contained in a message, typed and in Arabic, to the Beirut bureau of the Italian news agency ANSA. It attributed the explosion to "our brethren holy warriors in Italy." It promised further attacks "against imperialism and world Zionism everywhere."

Okudaira is known to have been trained in Lebanon and to have close ties to Middle East terrorist groups.

A police spokesman said he stayed for four nights at the Hotel San Pietro near Naples' city hall, posing as a Taiwanese named Liao Willy Liu. He rented a white Ford Fiesta with Milan license plates at the Naples airport.

The car, packed with what police believe were plastic explosives, was parked outside the USO club just after nightfall Thursday. The explosives were apparently detonated by remote control. Witnesses who saw the car being parked helped the police to assemble a portrait of the man who was behind the wheel. That portrait bore a striking resemblance to photographs of Okudaira that police had in their terrorist files. Copies of the picture were sent to airports, frontier posts and roadblocks in the Naples area.

An international warrant was issued for Okudaira for carrying out crude bomb attacks on the British and American embassies here last June, during a meeting of Western leaders in Venice. Then, too, he was traced through a rented car.

The Japanese Red Army, described by an Italian policeman as "a small but ferocious" terrorist gang, was responsible for an attack in 1972 on Lod Airport in Israel, in which 28 persons were killed. The group is known to have close links with Palestinian terrorist groups and to have trained its people in areas of Lebanon under Syrian control.

Okudaira, who has been active as a terrorist since the early 1970s, is also blamed for attacks against Western embassies in Spain and Malaysia. Arrested in Jordan and deported to jail in Japan in 1976, he was freed the next year in exchange for the release of passengers on a hijacked Japanese jetliner in 1977.

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