GOVERNORS DEMAND GREECE ACT AGAINST TERRORISM -- HON. LAWRENCE J. SMITH (Extension of Remarks - May 04, 1989)
HON. LAWRENCE J. SMITH
in the House of Representatives
THURSDAY, MAY 4, 1989
- Mr. SMITH of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I want to commend Governor Neil Goldschmidt of Oregon for his leadership in seeking the support of his fellow governors in a letter to the President to encourage a strong United States policy on the issue of Greece's response to terrorism. Ten other State chief executives joined Governor Goldschmidt in writing to President Bush on this urgent issue.
- Last year, I sponsored a resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 14, joined by many of my colleagues on the Foreign Affairs Committee, demanding that Greece bring to justice alleged terrorists in official custody.
- In recent months, the Government of Greece has failed to meet its responsibilities to help combat terrorism. Last December, Greece released to Libya Abdel Osama el-Zomar, a member of the Abu Nidal Organization, the most dangerous terrorist cell in operation today. El-Zomar is wanted for the attack on a synagogue in Italy in which a 2-year-old boy was killed, and 37 others wounded. The Greek Minister of Justice, Vassilis Rotis, stated that the release of el-Zomar was justified because his actions, and I quote, `Fall within the domain of the struggle to regain the independence of his homeland.' Mr. Speaker, no national liberation movement can be built on the murder of children in a house of worship.
- Last June, the Greek Government arrested Mohammed Rashid, who is suspected of the 1982 bombing of a Pan American airliner in which 5 people were killed. He is also suspected of involvement in a 1986 terror bombing of a TWA aircraft en route from Rome to Athens. Subsequent to his arrest, the United States asked for Rashid's extradition Greece's Supreme Court has decided that the extradition request urgently sought by the United States can be granted by the Government. In an effort to mortally intimidate the Supreme Court, leftwing urban guerrillas assassinated 2 state prosecutors, and murdered a third--frightening the judiciary and causing 2 Supreme Court justices to resign. In the past, the Papandreou government has been extremely tolerant of terrorists operating in and out of Greece so long as Greek interests were immune from terrorist attack. The murderous assault on the Greek judicial system demonstrates the cravenness and moral baselessness of such a policy.
- Last year, the Greek Supreme Court cleared the extradition of el-Zomar. But the el-Zomar precedent--in which the Greek government abdicated its responsibility--suggests that the interests of justice will again be sacrificed, unless we do something about it. This is why, Mr. Speaker, the initiative from Governor Goldschmidt and his colleagues is so timely. Moreover, the language of my concurrent resolution regarding the extradition of Mohammed Rashid has been incorporated by the Foreign Affairs Committee into the fiscal year 1990-91 foreign assistance authorization bill.
- Mr. Speaker, it is imperative that the U.S. Government--particularly the President and the Secretary of State--speak out firmly and unequivocally on this matter. The letter signed by 11 governors could not be more helpful in this regard.
- I am pleased to bring to the attention of my colleagues the letter signed by Governor Goldschmidt and his fellow chief executives, and request that the letter be included in the Record:
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR,
Salem, OR March 31, 1989.
The White House, Washington, DC
Dear Mr. President: As Governors of our respective states, we wish to express our strong support for your commitment to combat terrorism. We respectfully urge your attention to a pending issue involving the extradition from Greece of a person suspected of terrorism against American citizens, and whom our government wishes to bring to justice in this country.
We deplore the Greek government's breaking an agreement with Italy on December 6, 1988, to extradite Abdel Osama el-Zomar, a terrorist wanted for murder for a 1982 machine-gun attack against a synagogue in Italy in which a two year old boy was killed, and 37 others wounded.
We believe that the Greek government, in full conformance with applicable law, the extradition treaty between the United States and Greece, and Greece's ostensible commitments to fight terrorism, should extradite Mohamed Rashid, who is wanted by the United States for the 1982 mid-flight bombing of a Pan-American World Airways jetliner.
Based on these two cases and others, including the June 1988 car bomb assassination of U.S. Navy Captain William Nordeen by the `November 17' terrorism group, we are urgently concerned over the Papandreou government's policies toward terrorists operating in and out of Greece.
We therefore call upon you and the Department of State to:
(1) Express to Greece the grave concern of the United States regarding the necessity of Greece undertaking serious, concrete, and positive steps to significantly improve its anti-terrorism efforts and join the Western allies in combatting world terrorism; and
(2) Advise the government of Greece that the imposition of stringent measures affecting the nature of our bilateral relations is under active consideration.
We have a responsibility to protect the safety and welfare of the citizens of our states who travel to Greece and throughout the world.
The requested extradition of Mohamed Rashid is a test of our ability, and the commitment of an ally, to bring to justice those suspected of terrorism.
It is our hope that our voice will strengthen your hand and the resolve of our government to fight terrorism without hesitation and without exception.
Governor Steve Cowper, Alaska; Governor Joseph Ada, Guam; Governor Rudy Perpich, Minnesota; Governor George A. Sinner, North Dakota; Governor William P. Clements Jr., Texas; Governor Booth Gardner, Washington.
Governor Bill Clinton, Arkansas; Governor Cecil D. Andrus, Idaho; Governor Stan Stephens, Montana; Governor Neil Goldschmidt, Oregon; Governor Norman H. Bangerter, Utah.