Scorekeeping in counterterrorism -- US cites successful missions
Washington — American officials said last week the 126 thwarted terrorist missions cited by President Reagan in his Jan. 7 press conference included a plot to assassinate the US Ambassador in Rome, a planned human bomb attack on the US House of Representatives, and a suspected effort to kill Libyan dissidents in the United States. The president said at his news conference last night that ``we have aborted 126 terrorist missions'' in the past year but would give no details.
Robert Oakley, director of the State Department's office of counterterrorism, said today that 23 of the incidents were to take place in the United States and included a suspected Libyan assassination plot.
``Sixteen Libyans were brought in for detention briefly last May because we were confident they were preparing to carry out some assassinations here in this country,'' Oakley said.
He said the Libyans could not be convicted because ``we chose to stop them before they could act. Therefore the evidence of assassination was not present.''
Another official, who did not want to be identified, said the Libyans were detained in several states in what officials believed was a plot to assassinate up to three Libyan dissidents in the United States.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation also foiled what it said was a plot by seven Sikh extremists to assassinate Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Another of the 126 incidents, the official said, involved the arrest by Italian police last fall of two men from Baghdad with sophisticated explosives in their suitcases.
Oakley said the incidents were among the 126 Reagan cited during his news conference. Oakley said in a speech last September that thwarted attacks also included an attempt to bomb the US Embassy in Colombia, unsuccessful attempts to bomb the US Embassy residence in Beirut, and several attempts to kidnap US officials in Lebanon and Europe.