Qaddafi, Terrorism, and the Origins of the U.S. Attack on Libya

By Brian L. Davis | Go to book overview

5

The La Belle Discotheque Bombing and Its Aftermath

Within days of the battle in the Gulf of Sidra, a senior U.S. official had vowed, “The next act of terrorism will bring the hammer down” on Libya. 1 However, as noted, assignment of responsibility for the TWA bombing proved elusive. The prediction would find its fulfillment after an explosion in the divided city of Berlin.

While leaving it to the local people's bureaus to choose specific terrorist targets, the Qaddafi regime was providing general guidance: one intercepted message from Tripoli to Libyan diplomats suggested attacking social gathering places where U.S. military personnel habitually congregated. East Berlin was one of the destinations of orders to “carry out the plan, ” and Libyan diplomats with known records of terrorist activities were sighted in West Berlin in the first few days of April by U.S. and West Berlin security personnel. American officials had sought and obtained cooperation against local Libyan terrorist plotting from a number of governments, including those of West Germany, France, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia, but they did not find a positive response from Qaddafi's Soviet and East German allies when approaching them about the activities of the Libyan people's bureau in East Berlin. 2

On Friday evening April 4, the East Berlin people's bureau sent Tripoli a cable declaring, “We have something planned that will make you happy. 3 … It will happen soon, the bomb will blow, American soldiers must be hit.” 4 The message was intercepted, decoded, and routed to the operations center of the U.S. Army brigade in Berlin. U.S. officials moved to alert American soldiers on the streets of West Berlin and in its nightspots, including the La Belle discotheque. However, they were fifteen minutes too late: at 1:49 A.M. local

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Qaddafi, Terrorism, and the Origins of the U.S. Attack on Libya
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1 - Muammar Al-Qaddafi, Leader of the Revolution 1
  • 2 - The United States and Libya, 1969-1983 33
  • 3 - The United States and Libya on a Collision Course 57
  • 4 - Operation Prairie Fire 101
  • 5 - The La Belle Discotheque Bombing and Its Aftermath 115
  • 6 - Operation El Dorado Canyon and Its Aftermath 133
  • Appendix 181
  • Bibliographical Essay 191
  • Index 193
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