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Defense Secretary Links Karachi Hijack Incident To Abu Nidal

September 10, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said Tuesday there are ″strong indications″ the Abu Nidal terrorist organization was responsible for the attempted hijacking of a Pan Am jumbo jet last week in Pakistan, a published report said.

However, the defense secretary indicated that the Reagan administration is not planning immediate retaliation for the incident, which left 19 people dead, including two Americans. A 20th person has been declared brain-dead, and more than 100 people were injured.

″There are recent strong indications that it was an Abu Nidal activity,″ The Washington Post quoted Weinberger as telling a group of editors and columnists. ″That doesn’t necessarily mean only Abu Nidal was involved, but seems to have been involved as far as we know.″

Evidence of the group’s involvement comes from ″basic intelligence sources,″ Weinberger said. He gave no details.

The defense secretary also cited the hijackers’ ″willingness to shoot those who had absolutely nothing to do with anything, innocent men, women and children″ as being consistent with Abu Nidal’s method of operations.

The four Arab hijackers, who took over the plane Friday and held about 400 passengers hostage for 17 hours, were captured alive and are in Pakistani custody. The siege ended after the terrorists open fire inside the plane with automatic weapons and hurled grenades at passengers.

Administration officials have said the group is based in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, and has offices in Syria and Libya. Weinberger indicated that the group’s shadowy nature complicated any effort to strike back.

″I think you have to know more about a situation of that kind. ... It’s elementary to know against whom you’re going to retaliate,″ he said. ″I just don’t think there is anything very clearly established about it.″

Abu Nidal is the nom de guerre of the organization’s founder, Sabri Banna.

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