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Yugoslavia Was Told Carlos Was in Their Country, but Failed to Act

The United States and West Germany both had informed Yugoslav authorities that the notorious international political terrorist with Middle East connections, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as “Carlos,” was in Yugoslavia but Belgrade failed to act upon their tips, the State Department charged today.

“Carlos” was identified here by an American source as the leader of an array of Japanese, German and Arab terrorists serving the “Palestinian cause.” He is believed to be a Venezuelan native, carrying a Libyan passport. The source noted that Carlos was the ringleader in the seizure of Arab diplomats at an OPEC meeting in Vienna last December.

The State Department’s disclosure came at a time of strain between the two countries, with Yugoslavia fiercely critical of U.S. officials and media “surrender” to the requests of the Croatian hijackers who seized an American passenger plane last weekend.

Department spokesman Frederick Brown, responding to questions from reporters, said he could confirm that the U.S. on Sept. 8 had told Yugoslav authorities in Belgrade that Carlos was in their country. The West German authorities; he said, had also told the Yugoslavs about him “in time” for them to take “appropriate” action. Brown would not define what action he expected Yugoslavia to take.

Brown said the U.S. has expressed “our serious concern” to Yugoslavia over its failure to detain Carlos, particularly in view of Yugoslavia’s “claim to be strongly opposed to terrorism.” The information given to Yugoslavia was “highly reliable,” Brown said. He said he did not know whether Carlos holds a Libyan passport or whether he is still in Yugoslavia.

Brown’s disclosure followed his reading of a statement that U.S. policy of “no negotiations, no concessions” to terrorists “has not changed and will not change.” American ambassadors, he said, are and have been “authorized to demand the well-being of hostages and their unconditional release” on humanitarian grounds. He said when U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Rush talked with the Croatian hijackers in Paris he did not violate those standard instructions. The hijackers are now in custody in New York.

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