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Police Say West Berlin Arrest Points to Libyan Complicity

April 22, 1986

BERLIN (AP) _ A spokesman for the West Berlin Justice Ministry said Tuesday ″there is an indication that the trail leads to Libya″ in the April 5 bombing of a discotheque frequented by U.S. servicemen.

Spokesman Volker Kaehne made the comment in a telephone interview with The Associated Press after it was disclosed that a Palestinian arrested in the West Berlin bombing is the brother of a suspected terrorist held in England.

Kaehne stressed, however that the Palestinian held here, Ahmed Nawaf Mansur Hasi, 35, is not the chief suspect in the bombing which killed a U.S. army sergeant and a Turkish woman and injured 230 people, including 63 Americans.

Kaehne said Hasi, arrested Friday, acknowledged under police questioning that he was the brother of Nezar Hindawi, 31, arrested in London on Friday.

Security officials have said the discrepancy in the men’s surnames may involve false documents. Hindawi’s full name, as listed on the documents police took from him in London, is Nezar Narwas Mansour Hindawi, indicating some similarity to the name of the man in custody in Berlin.

Hindawi was arrested the same day as Hasi, and one day after Hindawi’s Irish girlfriend was stopped as she tried to board a Tel Aviv-bound El Al jumbo jet with a time bomb hidden in her bag. Hindawi was charged in London Tuesday with trying to blow up the Israeli airliner with 388 people aboard.

The spokesman refused to say if evidence of a Libyan link came through the search of Hasi’s apartment in the Tempelhof district of West Berlin or in the interrogation, which started over the weekend and continued Tuesday.

President Reagan has said the United States has proof connecting the bombing of the La Belle discotheque with the Libya government, operating through its embassy in communist-ruled East Berlin.

West Germany’s chancellor, Helmut Kohl, also said evidence existed that the Libyan Embassy in East Berlin was involved.

Reagan ordered U.S. air raids on Libya on April 15 following the disco bombing and the April 2 bombing of a TWA airliner over Greece which killed four Americans.

Kaehne said police went to Hasi’s apartment Friday as the result of a tip from London police and found evidence connecting Hasi with the bombing.

He said statements by the Jordanian-born Hasi led police to believe that Hasi was not the person who planted the discotheque bomb.

″The arrest warrant doesn’t say that he was the main culprit either; it says he is suspected of helping with the crime,″ Kaehne said.

He said Hasi has filed a complaint that he was falsely arrested.

Hasi acknowledged having maintained occasional contact with Hindawi, according to Kaehne.

He said police were unsure how long Hasi had been living in West Berlin, but neighbors said they thought he had been there for one or two years.

Hasi was the first suspect to be arrested in the investigation by a special 100-member commission of the West Berlin and U.S. military police.

Meanwhile, a U.S. military spokesman, Rex Gribble, disclosed Tuesday that all unofficial travel to West Berlin by army and air force personnel has been suspended as a precaution against terrorism.

Gribble is a spokesman for the U.S. Army-Europe headquarters in Heidelberg, West Germany. West Berlin is a Western enclave 110 miles inside communist East Germany.