This Week in EUCOM History: April 2-8, 1986

April 5, 1986 -- Berlin disco bombed in terrorist attack

On April 5, 1986 the Berlin discotheque La Belle was bombed in a terrorist attack.  This was an entertainment venue that was commonly frequented by United States soldiers attached to EUCOM and its component commands. A bomb placed under a table near the disk jockey's booth exploded at 1:45 am killing three people and injuring around 230 people, including 79 American servicemen.

Libya was blamed for the bombing after telex messages had been intercepted from Libya to the Libyan East Berlin embassy congratulating them on a job well done. U.S. President Ronald Reagan retaliated by ordering airstrikes against the Libyan capital of Tripoli and city of Benghazi. At least 15 civilians were killed in the U.S. airstrikes on Libya, including a child described as leader Colonel Gaddafi's adopted 15-month old daughter, and more than 2,000 were injured, including the then-3-year-old Khamis Gaddafi.

In spite of reports blaming Libya for the attack on the nightclub, no individual was officially accused of the bombing until the 1990 reunification of Germany and the subsequent opening up of the Stasi archives. Stasi files led German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis to Musbah Abdulghasem Eter, a Libyan who had worked at the Libyan embassy in East Berlin. Stasi files listed him as an agent, and Mehlis said he was the Libyan spy agency's main contact at the embassy.

Eter and four other suspects were arrested in 1996 in Lebanon, Italy, Greece and Berlin, and put on trial a year later. In 2001 Musbah Abdulghasem Eter, and two Palestinians, Yasser Mohammed Chreidi (or Yassar Al-Shuraidi or Yassir Chraidi) and Ali Chanaa were convicted in Berlin's Landgericht of aiding in murder, and Chanaa's former German wife, Verena Chanaa, was convicted of murder. They were given sentences of 12 to 14 years in prison.

Prosecutor Mehlis proved beyond reasonable doubt that the three men had assembled the bomb in the Chanaas' flat. The explosive was said to have been brought into West Berlin in a Libyan diplomatic bag. Verena Chanaa and her sister, Andrea Haeusler, carried it into the La Belle in a travel bag and left five minutes before it exploded. Haeusler was acquitted because it could not be proved that she knew a bomb was in the bag.

The judge Peter Marhofer said it was not clear whether Gaddafi or Libyan intelligence had actually ordered the attack, though there were indications that they had. Two weeks before the La Belle discotheque blast, Gaddafi called for Arab assaults on American interests worldwide after a U.S.-Libyan naval clash in the Mediterranean, in which 35 seamen on a Libyan patrol boat in the western Gulf of Sidra were killed in international waters claimed by Libyan government .

Chreidi was eventually extradited from Lebanon to Germany in connection with the bombing. He had been working for the Libyan Peoples' Bureau in East Berlin at the time of the bombing. Chreidi was said to have connections with Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, who used to live in Tripoli and was financed by Libya in the 1980s. Eter was reported to be the Libyan spy agency's point man at the embassy in East Berlin.

Find more articles tagged with:

Comments: 0

Your comment:

Related Topics

Flag of Germany

Germany

History of EUCOM

History Office

Related Articles

  • Hagel, Sweden’s Defense Minister Meet at Pentagon

    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with Sweden’s Minister of Defense Karin Enström at the Pentagon today, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
  • Solving violent extremism takes many paths at DOD seminar

    GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – In the course of exploring a definition and framework for “Countering Violent Extremism,” the 97 participants in a week-long seminar on the topic here have traveled down many paths.
  • This Week in EUCOM History: June 24, 1948

    On this day in 1948, U.S. and British pilots begin delivering food and supplies by airplane to Berlin after the city is isolated by a Soviet Union blockade.
  • This Week in EUCOM History: June 11, 1944

    In one of his most famous Cold War speeches, President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down" the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany.
  • This Week in EUCOM History: May 7-13, 1972

    Sabena Flight 571 was a scheduled passenger flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv operated by the Belgian national airline, Sabena. On May 8, 1972 a Boeing 707 passenger aircraft operating that service was hijacked by four terrorists from the Black September organization and landed at Lod Airport (later Ben Gurion International Airport) near Lod.
  • USAFE releases AIB report on F-15E crash in Libya

    United States Air Forces in Europe officials released the results of their investigation into the March 21 crash in Libya of an F-15E Strike Eagle as it performed combat operations enforcing the United Nations mandated no-fly zone established for Operation Odyssey Dawn.
  • This Week in EUCOM History: November 5-11, 1989

    In a press conference on Nov. 9, 1989 GDR central committee spokesman Guenter Schabowski unintentionally announced that citizens could travel to West Germany immediately. Schabowski was asked just before 7 p.m. about when a new law permitting GDR citizens more freedom of travel would go into effect. Schabowski famously told the journalist: "As far as I know, that goes into effect now, immediately."
  • Navy Firsts During Odyssey Dawn

    There’s a first time for everything, and during Operation Odyssey Dawn the U.S. Navy made several first-time accomplishments as a military service and in partnering with joint forces March 31.
  • Sea Breeze 2010 participant hold anti-piracy raid rehearsal

    TENDRA, Ukraine—Service members aboard Ukrainian ship LST Konstantn Olsnanskly (U 042) participated in an anti-piracy raid rehearsal on Tendra island July 15, as part of exercise Sea Breeze 2010.
  • U.S. military shows air power in Berlin

    BERLIN, Germany - More than 200,000 people caught a glimpse of the United States military’s airpower during the ILA 2010 Berlin International Aerospace Exhibition and Conferences June 8 to 13.
U