2 Libyans would lead probable list of U.S. kidnap prospects

June 17, 1992|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- If U.S. authorities decide to exercise their right to kidnap criminal suspects abroad, at the top of their "most wanted" list will probably be the two Libyans accused of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland.

The explosion killed 259 people on board the plane and 11 in the village of Lockerbie. Two former Libyan intelligence officers, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahl and Lamen Khalifa, are under grand jury indictment for the bombing. They are in Libya, where Col. Muammar el Kadafi is resisting U.S. demands for them to be sent here for trial.

The Supreme Court, in a case this week involving a Mexican national, gave U.S. agents legal authority to seize suspects from abroad to put them on trial here without going through extradition.

Federal law enforcement officials have several other terrorist suspects under closed indictment, and officials refused yesterday to reveal their names. But they are likely to include:

* George Ibrahim Abdullah, leader of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction. His group attempted to murder the U.S. charge d'affaires in Paris in 1981, murdered the U.S. military attache in Paris in 1982, and is suspected of being involved in the murders of the U.S. head of the Sinai Multinational Force and Observers in Rome in 1984 and the U.S. consul-general in Strasbourg, France, the same year. The group is based in northern Lebanon.

* Abu Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Front, the group held responsible for the attack on the cruise ship Achille Lauro in October 1985 and the murder of a U.S. citizen, Leon Klinghoffer. Mr. Abbas is also wanted in Italy. He is thought to be in Iraq.

* Abu Nidal, leader of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, which is blamed for 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries since 1974, killing or injuring 900 people. The group has its headquarters in Libya.

* Ahmad Jibril, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command, which launched bombing attacks on U.S. troop trains in Germany in the 1980s. He is under indictment in Germany for terrorism and manslaughter. He is thought to be in Syria or Lebanon.

* Muhammad Rashid, leader of the Hawari group of radical Palestinians. The group has targeted Americans, killing four by bombing TWA Flight 840 over Greece in April 1986. It operates from various countries in Middle East.

The "most wanted" list would certainly include the major officers of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), who stand accused here of racketeering by secretly and illegally acquiring control of U.S. financial institutions. They are the bank's founder, Agha Hasan Abedi, who lives in Pakistan; its president, Swaleh Naqui, reportedly in Abu Dhabi; and Gaith Pharaon, a Saudi financier who has been located in various countries.

The Supreme Court ruling involved the kidnapping of a foreigner, a Mexican doctor accused of taking part in the torture and murder of a U.S. drug enforcement agent in Guadalajara in 1985. But there was nothing in the decision to prevent U.S. authorities from using the same undercover technique to bring U.S. fugitives to justice.

Among U.S. citizens on any "most wanted" list would be:

* Marc Rich and Pincus Green, who face 1983 charges of racketeering, $48 million tax evasion, and illegally importing $203 million of Iranian oil in defiance of the 1979 U.S. economic embargo against Iran. Both now reside in Switzerland, which has rejected U.S. extradition requests.

* Tom J. Billman, a Maryland banker who fled the country in December 1988, after a civil judgment of $112 million was entered against him for his fraudulent operation of the Community Savings and Loan Association in Bethesda.

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