Syrian Connection Tightens in Terrorism Trial
BERLIN (AP) _ Testimony read Tuesday at the trial of two Palestinians charged in a West Berlin bombing said the explosives came from the Syrian Embassy in East Berlin and indicated part of the plan may have been made in Damascus.
Ahmed Nawaf Hasi, 35, said in a pre-trial statement read by the presiding judge that hewas handed the explosives in the kitchen of the embassy by a man later identified as a Syrian intelligence officer.
Hasi admitted under questioning by judges that he and co-defendant Farouk Salameh, 39, smuggled the explosives into West Berlin and used them to bomb the German-Arab Friendship Society on March 29. Nine people were wounded.
Western governments are monitoring the trial for further signs of official Syrian complicity in international terrorism.
Nezar Hindawi, Hasi’s 32-year-old brother, was convicted last month of trying to smuggle a bomb onto an Israeli jetliner last April at Heathrow airport in London. Evidence of Syrian involvement caused Britain to break diplomatic relations with the government of President Hafez Assad.
The United States and the European Common Market countries imposed sanctions on Syria, the Soviet Union’s main Middle East ally.
West Germany says the Berlin trial will determine whether it replaces its ambassador in Damascus, who is scheduled to leave by Jan. 1 at the end of his tour.
Syria denies involvement in terrorism.
Salameh said in a pre-trial statement also read in court that part of the plans for the attack were made in what appeared to be a Syrian secret service building in Damascus with the help of a man identified as Abu Ahmed.
He said Abu Ahmed also used the name Haitam Saed and was a ranking officer of Syrian intelligence. Saed was implicated in the Heathrow bombing attempt.
Presiding Judge Hans-Joachim Heinze read the pre-trial statements into the record after Hasi and Salameh refused to answer questions about the testimony they gave police after their arrests last spring.
They are charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to carry out a bombing and violating weapons laws.
Under questioning after his arrest, Salameh said he visited Damascus in January or February with Hindawi, who is identified in the pre-trial testimony as leader of the Berlin bombing plot.
Salameh said he and Hindawi met Saed in an office of Syrian intelligence that he described as a comfortably appointed room with a portrait of President Assad on the wall.
He said Hindawi sought financing from Syria for a Palestinian cell in Europe. Hindawi went to Damascus because he failed to get money from Libya during a visit to Tripoli in 1985, Salameh said.
Hasi’s pre-trial testimony said he was told to use the cover name Fahdi when picking up the explosives in East Berlin.
″At the Syrian Embassy I introduced myself as Fahdi and was brought to Abu Ahmed,″ it said.
According to the statement, Hasi left the embassy with Saed, drove to East Berlin’s main railroad station in an embassy car and left the explosives in a luggage locker.
Police officer Norbert Boer told the court Tuesday that authorities found papers with Hindawi’s handwriting on them during a search in April of Hasi’s West Berlin apartment.
They contained plans for a Palestinian group based in Europe to be called the Jordanian Revolutionary Movement that would coordinate military action against ″the Zionist enemy in occupied Palestine,″ he quoted the papers as saying.
″Occupied Palestine″ is a term Palestinian Arabs use for Israel.
Boer also said police unsuccessfully sought to link Hasi to the April 5 bombing of the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin.
He said the investigation of that attack has not been completed. The bomb killed two American servicemen and a Turkish woman and wounded scores of people.