Statement before the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the House Appropriations Committee on April 13, 1988. Mr Bremer is Ambassador at Large for Counter-Terrorism.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear in support of the Administration's appropriation request for the antiterrorism assistance program.
I would like to give the committee an overview of the current worldwide terrorism situation, detail our government's three-part counterterrorism policy, and explain the critical role that the antiterrorism assistance program plays, in our counterterrorism efforts.
Progress in Reducing Terrorism
We have made progress in the last 2 years in our fight against international terrorism. From 1986 to 1987, the number of anti-U.S. attacks worldwide dropped by 25%. The number of Americans killed by terrorists fell from 38 two years ago to 7 in 1987. International terrorism in Latin America decreased by 32%, and in Europe it fell 31% in the past 2 years. There was only one terrorist hijacking last year, the lowest number since we began keeping track 20 years ago. Unfortunately, there has already been one bloody international hijacking this year.
The effort to use the rule of law to punish terrorists also advanced in 1987. In France, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah was sentenced to a life term for his part in the assassinations of an American military attache and an Israeli diplomat and the attempted assassination of the American charge d'affaires. In the Federal Republic of Germany, Abbas Hamadi is currently on trial for kidnapping a German businessman, and his brother Mohammed Hamadi will be tried shortly for air piracy and the murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem committed during the hijacking of TWA #847. Here in Washington, another Lebanese terrorist, Fawaz Younis, awaits trial on charges that he held American citizens hostage when he led the hijacking in 1985 of a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight.
In Italy, Abu Abbas was tried in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in hijacking the Achille Lauro. Abu Abbas directed that terrorist operation, which led to the murder of 69-year old Leon Klinghoffer in his wheelchair. We applaud the vigor with which the Italian Government pursued the case against Abu Abbas after his complicity became clean
Some have said that the United States exonerated Abu Abbas when the Justice Department recently dropped its warrant for his arrest. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Justice Department's decision reflects its analysis that the admissible-and I want to stress admissible evidence currently available was insufficient to prosecute Abu Abbas successfully under U. S . law. The evidence that I have seen-even though some of it is not admissible-is completely convincing.
I have no doubt of his guilt and believe the Italian sentence appropriate. Our government would like to see Abu Abbas brought to justice and is ready to do all it can to make that happen.
Terrorists are also finding it harder to hide. Colonel Hawari, the infamous leader of the special operations group of the Palestine Liberation …