1995 Patterns of Global
U.S. Department of State
Europe and Eurasia Overview
The number of lethal terrorist incidents in Europe declined from 46 in 1994 to 11 in 1995, although the total number of incidents rose from 88 to 272. In Eurasia, however, the total number dropped from 11 in 1994 to five in 1995. Most of the terrorist incidents that occurred in Europe and Eurasia were acts of arson or vandalism against Turkish-owned businesses largely in Germany. These acts are widely believed to be the work of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK); several European nations permit the PKK to operate known front companies within their borders.
Islamic extremists upset with French Government policy toward the conflict in Algeria are suspected of being responsible for terrorist bombings in France during 1995 that left eight dead and 160 wounded. The bombers targeted subways, markets, and other public places to achieve a maximum effect. Islamic extremists also probably conducted a car bombing in front of police headquarters in Rijeka, Croatia, which killed the driver of the car. The Egyptian al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group or IG) claimed responsibility.
Radical nationalism and xenophobia provoked a campaign of letter bombs directed at foreigners in Austria and in Germany, where neo-Nazi violence against foreigners continued. The terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) continued its campaign of murder and intimidation in Spain, including an attack on Partido Popular leader Jose Maria Aznar, and Spanish police in August foiled a plot to assassinate King Juan Carlos. In Greece the indigenous leftist Revolutionary Organization 17 November and other domestic terrorist groups continued to threaten US and Turkish diplomats and to target Greek business interests.
In Turkey, the PKK continued to engage in terrorism with the goal of creating a separate state. In addition, Marxist terrorist groups and Islamist radicals conducted terrorist attacks aimed at official Turkish interests and progovernment figures. The Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front, known by the Turkish initials DHKP/Cùthe successor to the group formerly known as Dev Solùapparently continued to target US interests. The PKK also continued to attack sites frequented by US and other tourists but at a level sharply reduced from its height in 1993.
Attacks on foreigners that began in 1993 continued in 1995, killing four and injuring another 11 persons, including two in neighboring Germany. In June a third series of letter bombs linked to neo-Nazi elements included two that were mailed from Austria to an Austrian-born black TV commentator in Munich and to the mayor of Luebeck, injuring colleagues of the intended victims. The letters carried the logo of the Bajuwarian Liberation Front (also known as the Bavarian Liberation Army), an obscure rightwing group that had claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Austria. In December another round of bombings was timed to try to embarrass Austrian authorities. Two of four letter bombs in a public mailbox exploded as the trial of two rightwing suspects in the bombings of December 1993 was wrapping up. (They were acquitted.)
On 20 September a leftwing group called the Red Daughters of Rage firebombed a German pharmaceutical firm in Vienna that was hosting US visitors and flying a US flag. The group claimed the firm was affiliated with a US genetic company that they alleged was involved in forced sterilization in developing countries. A leftwing group calling itself the Cell for Internationalism claimed responsibility for a similar firebombing the next day against the American International School. The same group claimed it was also involved in a firebombing on 20 December against an American Express office in Salzburg.
In February, Austrian officials released suspected Abu Nidal terrorist Bahij Younis from a Vienna prison, where he had served 13 years for complicity in the murder in 1981 of the president of the Austro-Israeli Society Nittel in Vienna. Younis is also believed to have masterminded the attack against a synagogue in Vienna in 1981. In March, Austria extradited to Belgium Rajeh Heshan Mohamed Baghdad, a PLO terrorist sentenced to life in 1982 for his role in a murder and terrorist attack in 1981.
A car bomb detonated outside police headquarters in Rijeka on 20 October, injuring 29 bystanders and killing the driver of the car. The Egyptian organization al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (also known as the Islamic Group or IG) claimed responsibility for the bombing. The car bomb was detonated to press Croatian authorities into releasing IG spokesman Tala'at Fuad Kassem, who had been detained by Croatian police in Zagreb on 12 September. After the bombing, Croatian authorities said Kassem was no longer in the country.
A series of terrorist incidents in France in 1995 appeared to be the work of Algerian extremists. In July a cofounder of the Algerian opposition group Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), Abdelbaki Sahraoui, was murdered in Paris. Suspicion focused on another Algerian opposition group, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which had earlier put Sahraoui on a "death list" for his supposed conciliatory posture toward the Algerian Government.
A blast on 25 July in a Paris metro station kicked off a campaign of eight bombings or attempted bombings in France. Eight people were killed and 160 wounded in the attacks, which were staged in train stations, markets, and other public places to maximize civilian casualties. Although there were various claims of responsibility for the blasts, suspicions centered on the violent Islamic opposition to the Algerian Government. Some commentators argued that the GIA wanted to punish the Government of France for its supposed support for the Algerian Government; others claimed that the bombings were in retribution for the killing of four Algerian hijackers of an Air France Airbus in December 1994.
French police achieved a breakthrough in September when they traced fingerprints found on an unexploded bombùdiscovered on high-speed train tracks near Lyonùto a French citizen of Algerian descent, Khaled Kelkal. The police killed Kelkal in a shootout later that month. In November fingerprints found on another unexploded device and other information led police to arrest several more people of North African descent, two of whom were formally charged with involvement in the bombings. There were no additional terrorist blasts in 1995 following these arrests. The French judiciary may reveal more about its understanding of the structure behind the crimes when the judicial cases against the accused come to trial.
In August assailants threw a molotov cocktail at a Turkish sporting and cultural association in Paris, injuring six and causing minor damage. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) probably is responsible.
On 29 August unidentified assailants attempted to assassinate President Eduard Schevardnadze by detonating a car bomb near his motorcade as it left the presidential compound in T'bilisi. Schevardnadze suffered minor injuries, but four of his bodyguards were injured, one seriously.
Six armed men detonated a small bomb in front of the residence of the Russian Ambassador to Georgia on 9 April, shattering windows and causing minor damage to nearby houses. The Algeti Wolves claimed responsibility for that attack and for an armed assault two hours later on Russian troops in the city, citing Russian involvement in Chechnya as the reason for both attacks. There were no injuries.
Authorities continued to pursue and prosecute Red Army Faction (RAF) members. In September, a German court sentenced RAF member Sieglinde Hofmann to life imprisonment for assisting in five murders and three attempted murders, including the bomb attack in 1979 in Belgium on then- NATO Commander Alexander Haig. In October, Johannes Weinrich, a former RAF member and alleged deputy to international terrorist Illych Ramirez Sanchez (Carlos), was indicted in Berlin for transporting explosives into Germany that were later used to bomb the French cultural center; Weinrich had been extradited to Germany from Yemen. Germany released several former RAF terrorists who had served from 11 to 20 years of their sentences.
Although German officials say the RAF has largely disintegrated, they worry about successor organizations that have assumed the RAF's ideological mantle. The emerging Anti-Imperialist Cells (AIZ), for example, mounted several bombing attacks against German interests in 1995. Among far-right groups, German authorities noted an increasing tendency to link up with neo-Nazi groups abroad, especially through the use of electronic communication networks.
The number of arson attacks with proven or probable connections to foreign extremist groups were more than five times those carried out in 1994, largely because of two waves of attacks in March-April and July- August by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). In more than 200 attacks on Turkish establishmentsùsome of which may have been "copycat" attacks perpetrated by antiforeigner Germans rather than the PKKùtwo foreigners died and several others were injured. Although Germany banned the PKK and several associated Kurdish organizations in 1993, new PKK front organizations appear frequently in Germany, thus presenting a continuing problem for the government.
Attacks against US interests were rare, although US-owned Chrysler dealerships were targeted to protest the scheduled execution in the United States of convicted murderer Mumia Abu Jamal. In Kassel, vandals smashed car and showroom windows, and, elsewhere, the Anti-Imperialistic Group Liberty for Mumia Abu Jamal claimed responsibility for firebombing a vehicle parked outside a dealership.
In November a group calling itself Anti-Imperialist Freedom Connection for Benjamin claimed responsibility for setting fire to and destroying a vehicle belonging to a German-Spanish automobile joint venture; the claim letter protested the deportation trial of Benjamin Ramos-Vega, a member of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist group.
Greek leftist and anarchist groups in 1995 again conducted numerous terrorist attacks against public and private Greek and foreign targets. The Revolutionary Organization 17 November, for example, fired two rockets at a MEGA TV station facility in March, causing extensive damage but no casualties. Greek terrorist groups also conducted several operations against foreign interests, including the August bombings of the American Express and Citibank offices in Athens.
Greece had some counterterrorist successes in 1995, including the successful conviction of Georgios Balafas, a suspected 17 November terrorist sentenced to 10 years in prison for stockpiling weapons. Greek counterterrorist efforts, however, could benefit from the passage of tougher, more comprehensive counterterrorist regulations. Since 1975 no one has been convicted of any of 17 November's terrorist attacks, including the murder of four US officials and a Greek employee of the US Embassy. While official statements indicate the government's resolve to confront Greece's domesticterrorist problem, frequent turnover of key personnel involved in the fight against terrorismùthree public order ministers in the past yearùhampers these efforts.
Greek authorities continued in 1995 to deny public Turkish charges that the anti-Turkish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) conducts operational terrorist training and receives assistance in Greece. As is the case in certain other European countries, however, Greece permits the PKK to operate a known front organization in Athens. In May it also allowed the successor group to Dev Sol, another anti-Turkish and anti-US terrorist group, to open an office in Athens under its new name, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).
In the culmination of what journalists said was a two-year investigation, Milan police arrested 11 persons on 26 June at Milan's Islamic Center and made additional arrests a few days later. Police officials told the press that the group provided support for an international network of Islamic terrorist organizations, including the Egyptian al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group or IG). A police spokesman also said the arrestees maintained contact with the "Blind Shaykh," Umar Abd al-Rahman, who was convicted in October for conspiring to commit terrorism in the United States. Charges against the accused include conspiracy, extortion, armed robbery, falsifying documents, and arms smuggling.
On the basis of a French warrant, Italian police arrested former Red Army Faction member Margo Froehlich in October. A German national, she was wanted for complicity in a Paris attack in 1982 carried out by international terrorist Illych Ramirez Sanchez (Carlos) that killed one person and injured 63.
On the afternoon of 13 September, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the sixth floor of the US Embassy in Moscow. The grenade penetrated the wall and exploded inside, causing some damage to office equipment but no casualties. No group claimed responsibility.
In December 1995, Russia participated in a first-of-its-kind counterterrorism ministerial conference that was called by the heads of the G-7 nations plus Russia at their June summit in Halifax.
In 1995, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorists conducted attacks on Spanish rail lines and stations, banks, police officers, and political figuresùincluding the assassination of the Partido Popular mayoral candidate in San Sebastian and the attempted assassination of the leading contender for the prime ministership. In addition, ETA targeted French interests in Spain in 1995. In February a suspected ETA bomb exploded at a French-owned bank. Following a joint Spanish-French operation that thwarted a plot to assassinate King Juan Carlos while he vacationed in Majorca last August, suspected ETA members or supporters tossed molotov cocktails at a Citroen car dealership in Navarre, destroying five vehicles. In mid-December suspected ETA members detonated a car bomb in Madrid, one of the worst attacks in years that claimed at least six lives and wounded 15others.
Turkey continued its vigorous pursuit of several violent leftist and Islamic extremist groups, especially the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), responsible for terrorism in Turkey.
The PKK launched hundreds of attacks in 1995 in Turkey, including indiscriminate bombings in areas frequented by Turkish and foreign civilians, as part of its campaign to establish a breakaway state in southeastern Turkey. For example, the group set off a bomb outside a cafe/grocery store in Izmir on 17 September, killing five and wounding 29. The PKK also continuedùalbeit with less successùits three-year-old attempt to drive foreign tourists away from Turkey by attacking tourist sites. In August two US citizens were injured by shrapnel in a bombing of Istanbul's popular Taksim Square. Moreover, the PKK continued to expand its activities in Western Europe, especially in Germany, where its members frequently attacked ethnic Turks and Turkish commercial establishments.
A successor to the Marxist/Leninist Devrimci Sol (Dev Sol)ùknown as the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)ùand several Islamic extremist groups were active in 1995. Dev Sol has been responsible for several anti-US attacks since 1990, and the DHKP/C continues to target US citizens. In July the group took over a restaurant in Istanbul, holding several civiliansùincluding three US touristsùhostage. All of the hostages eventually were released unharmed. Loosely organized Islamic extremist groups, such as the Islamic Movement Organization and IBDA-C, continued to launch attacks against targets associated with Turkish official facilities and functions. They may have been responsible for the attempted assassination in June of a prominent Jewish community leader in Ankara.
On 24 May, an explosive device detonated near the Austrian Airlines office in the Odessa airport in southern Ukraine. Austrian Airlines is the only Western airline that flies out of Odessa. Press reports said the device consisted of about six pounds of plastic explosive. There were no injuries. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which may not have been politically motivated.
The cease-fires begun in the autumn of 1994, led by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and followed by other Republican splinter groups and the three major Loyalist paramilitaries, still held at year's end. Nevertheless, sporadic incidents of politically motivated killings, arson, attempted bombings, punishment beatings, and abductions were reported. No progress was made on the decommissioning of weapons, and paramilitaries were combat ready. In November, Irish and British police forces intercepted a van loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives in Ireland near the border with Northern Ireland. Authorities believe a Republican fringe group known as the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) was intending to attack British security forces in Northern Ireland. A subsequent police sweep of the area discovered another cache of explosives and bombmaking equipment at a farm a few miles from the first operation.
In January an unidentified assailant shot and killed a Sikh newspaper editor. The victim may have been killed because of his support for an independent Sikh state in India. No one claimed responsibility.
A British court ruled on 25 July to extradite Kani Yilmaz, European chief of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), to Germany, where he faces charges of conspiracy to commit arson. The ruling sparked a large crowd of PKK supporters to battle London police, pelting them with bottles, bricks, and road signs, injuring more than a dozen police officers and an unknown number of others. The United Kingdom permits the PKK to operate a known front organization within its borders.
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