US Discussed Pan Am Bombing With Syria
Nov. 04, 1989
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department says it is ''not satisfied'' with Syria's response to discussions of possible terrorist connection to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
Spokesman Richard Boucher disclosed the talks Friday, saying the United States urged Syria to ''take action'' against the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, General Command and other ''terrorist groups.''
Boucher said the talks with Syria about links to terrorist groups began before the Pan Am bombing on Dec. 21, 1988 that killed 270 people.
The PFL-GC has been named in news reports as a prime suspect in the bombing, but Boucher did not confirm whether any specific group was suspected of the bombing.
Several terrorist groups operate with Syria's support in the country as well as in areas of neighboring Lebanon under Syrian control, Boucher said.
''The United States is not satisfied with the Syrian response to date,'' the spokesman said. ''We will continue to press our concerns.''
A seven-member presidential commission decided on Thursday to look into Pan Am's allegation that 36 hours before the explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, the Israeli intelligence agency warned U.S. authorities of a possible terrorist attack.
The commission also agreed to investigate Pan Am's contention that West German authorities had reported ''suspicious activities'' at the Frankfurt airport within 90 minutes of the flight.
Besides Syria, Boucher said discussions were held with ''other countries which may have information about terrorist groups.'' He did not name the countries.
He said the United States ''has repeatedly expressed concern, both publicly and privately, about terrorist groups supported by Syria, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. On numerous occasions we have asked Syria to take action against these groups, both inside Syria and in Syria-controlled areas of Lebanon.''
Meanwhile, the spokesman for a Lebanese-American organization said nearly 15,000 acres of the Bekaa Valley, which is under Syrian control, are being used to produce heroin.
''They are doing this with the full knowledge of the U.S. government,'' said Joseph L. Boohaker, spokesman for the National Alliance of Lebanese Americans.
He said Syria and Colombia were cooperating in drug trafficking. He showed television film of what he said was a meeting between a Syrian representative and Pablo Escobar, an alleged Colombian drug smuggler wanted by the United States, outside a hotel in Larnaca, Cyprus.
The State Department said Friday night: ''We have no knowledge of links between Syria and the Colombian 'Medellin Cartel.'''
Also Friday, Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, said an insurance investigator's report convinced him the CIA had been tipped in advance that terrorists might attempt to blow up Pan Am's plane, but remained silent. He asserted the report, which he did not release, concludes the CIA was ''covering up a drug run,'' protecting the terrorists' Frankfurt-to-New York heroin route in exchange for contacts that might lead to the release of American hostages.
The CIA immediately denied Traficant's charges and labeled the report ''nonsense.''