1986 Berlin discotheque bombing

1986 Berlin discotheque bombing

1986 Berlin Disco Bombing
Roxy-Palast, the building in which the discotheque La Belle was located
Location West Berlin
Date April 5, 1986 (1986-04-05)
1:45 am (CET/CEST)
Attack type
Bombing; terrorist attack
Weapons Plastic explosive
Deaths 3 (2 U.S. soldiers, 1 Turkish civilian)
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrators Verena Chanaa, Yasir Shraydi, Musbah Eter, Ali Chanaa
Memorial plaque reading, "On the 5th of April, 1986, young people were killed inside this building by a criminal bombing."

On April 5, 1986 three people were killed and around 230 injured when La Belle discothèque was bombed in West Berlin. The entertainment venue was commonly frequented by United States soldiers, and two of the dead and 79 of the injured were American servicemen.

A bomb placed under a table near the disk jockey's booth exploded at 1:45 am CET instantly killing Nermin Hannay, a Turkish woman, and U.S. sergeant Kenneth T. Ford. A second American sergeant, James E. Goins, died from his injuries two months later. Some of the victims were left permanently disabled due to the injuries caused by the explosion.[1]

Libya was accused of sponsoring the bombing by the US government, and US President Ronald Reagan ordered retaliatory strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya ten days later. The strikes reportedly killed 15-30 people, including Colonel Gaddafi's adopted daughter, and were condemned by the United Nations General Assembly.[1]

A 2001 trial in the US found that the bombing had been "planned by the Libyan secret service and the Libyan Embassy."[1]


  • Blame and retribution 1
  • Trial and conviction 2
  • Background to the bombing 3
  • Compensation 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Blame and retribution

Libya was blamed for the bombing after telex messages had been intercepted from Libya to the Libyan East Berlin embassy congratulating them on a job well done.[2] U.S. President Ronald Reagan retaliated by ordering airstrikes against the Libyan capital of Tripoli and city of Benghazi (see Operation El Dorado Canyon). At least 30 soldiers and 15 civilians were killed.[2][3][4]

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 archives.[2] 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.[2]

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[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] Verena Chanaa and her sister, Andrea Häusler, carried it into the La Belle in a travel bag and left five minutes before it exploded.[2] Ms Häusler 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 in the Mediterranean, in which 35 seamen on a Libyan patrol boat in the western Gulf of Sidra were killed in international waters claimed by Libyan government.[1]

Chreidi was eventually extradited from Lebanon 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, 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.[8][9]


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.[10] A year later, on August 10, 2004, Libya concluded an agreement to pay a total of $35 million compensation.[11]

In October 2008, Libya paid $1.5 billion into a fund 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 bombing; and,
  4. Libyan victims of the 1986 US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d ERLANGER, STEVEN (November 14, 2001). "4 Guilty in Fatal 1986 Berlin Disco Bombing Linked to Libya". New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Malinarich, Nathalie (November 13, 2001). "Flashback: The Berlin disco bombing". BBC News. 
  3. ^ 1986: US launches air strikes on Libya| bbc.co.uk
  4. ^ Apr 14, 1986: U.S. bombs Libya This Day in History
  5. ^ 39. Große Strafkammer des Landgerichts Berlin
  6. ^ The Berlin verdict
  7. ^ hrr-strafrecht.de - BGH 5 StR 306/03 - 24. Juni 2004 (LG Berlin) [ = HRRS 2004 Nr. 727 = NJW 2004, 3051; NStZ 2005, 153; NStZ 2005, 35; StV 2005, 87 (L) ]
  8. ^ Beirut liefert aus : Textarchiv : Berliner Zeitung Archiv
  9. ^ Entschädigung nach 18 Jahren - Politik - Berliner Morgenpost - Berlin
  10. ^ La-Belle-Anschlag: Libyen: Entschädigung für deutsche Opfer vereinbart - Politik - FAZ.NET
  11. ^ $35 million compensation
  12. ^ "Libya compensates terror victims". BBC News. 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 

External links

  • BBC Flashback: The Berlin disco bombing
  • La Belle victims' website
  • Operation El Dorado Canyon
  • 'La Belle' verdict favours Libya