Outbreak of War in Persian Gulf Could Unleash Terrorist Activity

The confrontation in the Persian Gulf could lead to an outburst of international terrorism by Palestinian and other terrorist groups identifying with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies have concluded.

At the same time, Iraq is capable of carrying out terrorist activities against Israel and Western interests by its own agents and not necessarily through Palestinian terrorist organizations, according to analysts at the center.

Palestinian organizations, however, several of which are based in Baghdad, could operate as Iraqi agents or independently. Among the Palestinians reportedly located in Iraq are:

* Mohammed (Abul) Abbas, Palestine Liberation Front. Responsible for the attack on the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985 and the killing of Leon Klinghoffer.

* George Habash, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Long based in Damascus, the group moved to Iraq a month after the invasion of Kuwait. It is second to Al Fatah in influence within the Palestine Liberation Organization.

* Abu Nidal, Fatah Revolutionary Council. Widely reported to be supported by Libya and Syria. Broke from Arafat in 1974. Responsible for killing 22 people in bombing of synagogue in Istanbul, Sept. 6, 1986.

* Abu Ibrahim, Arab Organization of May 15. Master bomb-maker. Responsible for terror attacks throughout Asia and possibly Australia.

* Abu Salim, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Special Command.

* Abu Ahmed, Arab Liberation Front. Iraq’s PLO faction.

* Abu Tayib, leader of the PLO’s elite commando Force 17.

Officials and staff members of the Jaffee Center spoke at a news conference marking the publication of its annual survey of international terrorism, “InTer 89,” which covers worldwide terrorism during 1989.

HIGHEST INCIDENCE IN LATIN AMERICA

The report details 406 international terrorist incidents recorded in 1989, compared with 433 in 1988 and 377 in 1987.

Middle Eastern terrorists were responsible for 8.9 percent of the incidents, about the same as the last three years, but a marked decline from 1985 and 1986.

International terrorism was defined as acts involving the interests of more than one state.

The study does not include incidents perpetrated by underground groups against foreign invaders, such as the Afghan rebels against Soviet forces or attacks on the Israel Defense Force in Lebanon or the administered territories.

The authors explained they wanted “to avoid a quantitative or qualitative bias in the picture it presents on international terrorism.”

According to the study, the most common terrorist tactic in 1989 was, as in previous years, bombing and arson. Those tactics accounted for 35.5 percent of all terrorist attacks, followed by kidnappings, which accounted for 5.9 percent of the total.

The most common arena for terrorist activity last year was Latin America, where 39 percent of the incidents took place. It was followed by Europe, with 19.7 percent, down from 24.2 percent in 1988.

Ten countries accounted for 55 percent of international terrorist acts during the year. They are Colombia, Chile, Peru, Pakistan, Lebanon, Spain, Philippines, South Korea, West Germany and Turkey.

A total of 553 people were killed as a result of terrorism in 1989, 278 of them in the midair explosions of a French airliner over the Sahara and an Avianca Airlines plane in Colombia.

The report is the sixth consecutive issued in the international terrorism series and was prepared by a team of researchers involved in the think tank’s Low Intensity Warfare Project, directed by Anat Kurz.

The Persian Gulf crisis will be covered in greater depth in the center’s annual “Military Balance in the Middle East,” to be published in December.

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