1986 Berlin discotheque bombing
The 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing was a terrorist
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 attack on the La Belle discothèque in West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, an entertainment venue that was commonly frequented by United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 soldiers. A bomb placed under a table near the disk jockey's booth exploded at 1:45 am CET
Central European Time
Central European Time , used in most parts of the European Union, is a standard time that is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time . The time offset from UTC can be written as +01:00...

 on April 5, 1986, killing three people and injuring around 230 people, including 79 American servicemen.

Nermin Hannay, a Turkish
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 woman, and U.S. sergeant Kenneth T. Ford were killed instantly; a second American sergeant, James E. Goins, died from his injuries two months later. Some of the victims were left permanently disabled.

Blame and retribution

Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 was blamed for the bombing after telex
Telex may refer to:* Telex , , a communications network** Teleprinter, the device used on the above network* Telex , a Belgian pop group...

 messages had been intercepted from Libya to the Libyan East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

 embassy congratulating them on a job well done. U.S. President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 retaliated by ordering airstrikes against the Libyan capital of Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

 and city of Benghazi
Benghazi is the second largest city in Libya, the main city of the Cyrenaica region , and the former provisional capital of the National Transitional Council. The wider metropolitan area is also a district of Libya...

 (see Operation El Dorado Canyon
Operation El Dorado Canyon
The 1986 United States bombing of Libya, code-named Operation El Dorado Canyon, comprised the joint United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps air-strikes against Libya on April 15, 1986. The attack was carried out in response to the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing.-Origins:Shortly after his...

). At least 15 civillians were killed in the U.S. airstrikes on Libya, including a child described as leader Colonel Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

's adopted 15-month old daughter, and more than 2000 were injured, including the then-3 year old Khamis Gaddafi.

Trial and conviction

In spite of reports blaming Libya for the attack on the nightclub, no individual was officially accused of the bombing until the 1990 reunification of Germany and the subsequent opening up of the Stasi
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

 archives. Stasi files led German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis to Musbah Abdulghasem Eter, a Libyan who had worked at the Libyan embassy in East Berlin. Stasi files listed him as an agent, and Mehlis said he was the Libyan spy agency's main contact at the embassy.

Eter and four other suspects were arrested in 1996 in Lebanon, Italy, Greece and Berlin, and put on trial a year later. In 2001 Musbah Abdulghasem Eter, and two Palestinians, Yasser Mohammed Chreidi (or Yassar Al-Shuraidi or Yassir Chraidi) and Ali Chanaa were convicted in Berlin's Landgericht of aiding in murder, and Chanaa's former German wife, Mrs Verena Chanaa, was convicted of murder. They were given sentences of 12 to 14 years in prison.

Prosecutor Mehlis proved beyond reasonable doubt that the three men had assembled the bomb in the Chanaas' flat. The explosive was said to have been brought into West Berlin in a Libyan diplomatic bag. Verena Chanaa and her sister, Andrea Haeusler, carried it into the La Belle in a travel bag and left five minutes before it exploded. Ms Haeusler was acquitted because it could not be proved that she knew a bomb was in the bag.

Background to the bombing

The judge Peter Marhofer said it was not clear whether Gaddafi or Libyan intelligence had actually ordered the attack, though there were indications that they had. Two weeks before the La Belle discotheque blast, Gaddafi called for Arab assaults on American interests worldwide after a U.S.-Libyan naval clash
Action in the Gulf of Sidra (1986)
In the Action in the Gulf of Sidra, the United States Navy deployed aircraft carrier groups in the disputed Gulf of Sidra in the Mediterranean Sea. Libya claimed that the entire Gulf was their territory, at 32° 30' N, with an exclusive fishing zone. Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi asserted this...

 in the Mediterranean, in which 35 seamen on a Libyan patrol boat in the Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya; it is also known as Gulf of Sirte or the Great Sirte or Greater Syrtis .- Geography :The Gulf of Sidra has been a major centre for tuna fishing in the Mediterranean for centuries...

 were killed in international waters claimed by Libya.

Chreidi was eventually extradited from Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 to Germany in connection with the bombing. He had been working for the Libyan Peoples' Bureau in East Berlin at the time of the bombing. Chreidi was said to have connections with Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal
Abu Nidal
Abu Nidal , born Sabri Khalil al-Banna , was the founder of Fatah–The Revolutionary Council , a militant Palestinian group more commonly known as the Abu Nidal Organization...

, who used to live in Tripoli and was financed by Libya in the 1980s. Eter was reported to be the Libyan spy agency's point man at the embassy in East Berlin.


On August 17, 2003, newspapers reported that Libya had signaled to the German government that it was ready to negotiate compensation for the bombing with lawyers for non-U.S. victims. A year later, on August 10, 2004, Libya concluded an agreement to pay a total of $35 million compensation.

In October 2008, Libya paid $1.5 billion into a fund which will be used to compensate relatives of the following:
  1. Lockerbie bombing victims with the remaining 20% of the sum agreed in 2003;
  2. American victims of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing;
  3. American victims of the 1989 UTA Flight 772
    UTA Flight 772
    UTA Flight 772 of the French airline Union des Transports Aériens was a scheduled flight operating from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, via N'Djamena in Chad, to Paris CDG airport in France....

     bombing; and,
  4. Libyan victims of the 1986 US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi.

See also

  • Crypto AG
    Crypto AG
    Crypto AG is a Swiss company specialising in communications and information security. With headquarters in steinhausen, the company is a long-established manufacturer of encryption machines and a wide variety of cipher devices...

  • Gulf of Sidra incident (1989)
    Gulf of Sidra incident (1989)
    The second Gulf of Sidra incident occurred on 4 January 1989 when two US F-14 Tomcats shot down two Libyan MiG-23 Flogger-Es that gave all appearances of attempting to engage them, as had happened seven years prior in the first Gulf of Sidra incident ....

  • Gulf of Sidra incident (1981)
    Gulf of Sidra incident (1981)
    In the first Gulf of Sidra incident, 19 August 1981, two Libyan Su-22 Fitter attack aircraft were shot down by two American F-14 Tomcats off of the Libyan coast.-Background:...

  • Pan Am Flight 73
    Pan Am Flight 73
    Pan Am Flight 73, a Pan American World Airways Boeing 747-121, was hijacked on September 5, 1986, while on the ground at Karachi, Pakistan, by four armed men of the Abu Nidal Organization...

  • Pan Am Flight 103
    Pan Am Flight 103
    Pan Am Flight 103 was Pan American World Airways' third daily scheduled transatlantic flight from London Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport...

  • UTA Flight 772
    UTA Flight 772
    UTA Flight 772 of the French airline Union des Transports Aériens was a scheduled flight operating from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, via N'Djamena in Chad, to Paris CDG airport in France....

External links

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