April 19, 1997
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- German prosecutors are investigating another Iranian in the 1992 assassinations of four exiled Iranian dissidents, Der Spiegel news magazine said Saturday.
The report was likely to further anger Iran, where anti-German feelings are running high after a Berlin court convicted an Iranian and four Lebanese men in the killings on April 10.
The court accused Iran's leaders of ordering the assassinations. Since the ruling, crowds have staged sometimes violent protests outside the German Embassy in Tehran.
Spiegel said German prosecutors are also investigating Iranian Abdolrahman Banihashemi. They believe he led the team that sprayed machine-gun fire into the Berlin restaurant where the four Iranian Kurdish leaders were dining, the magazine said.
Banihashemi arrived in Berlin before the September 1992 assassinations and left shortly afterward, Spiegel said. He now lives in Tehran, according to the magazine. A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors refused to comment.
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel reminded the Iranian government Saturday of its promise to safeguard Germans and German property in Iran.
On Friday, a hard-line group staged an enlistment drive in Tehran for volunteers for suicide attacks against German targets. Dozens signed up on the spot, although the group is not believed to have the means to carry out the attacks and acknowledges that the Iranian government has forbidden them.
Kinkel said Germany was taking the threats seriously. ``Since these suicide commandos apparently follow only instructions from the government, we are holding the Iranian government to its word,'' Kinkel said.
The Welt am Sonntag newspaper said the Iranian Embassy in Bonn, the Iranian consulates in Frankfurt and Hamburg and a mosque in Hamburg were being used for preparing attacks against Iranian dissidents.
Tehran and European Union countries have been locked in a diplomatic dispute since the verdict. All 15 EU nations except Greece have recalled their ambassadors from Tehran, as have Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Finland. The Australian and New Zealand ambassadors have since returned to Tehran.
Kinkel's remarks were quoted in a ministry statement a day after the leader of hardline Ansar-e Hizbollah said his followers were ready to die as martyrs against Germany if ordered by Iran's supreme leader.
Iranian officials have said they are committed to protecting foreign residents and Kinkel said he had no reason to doubt the 530 Germans in Iran were safe.
``Of course we are taking the latest threats by the extremist Ansar-e Hizbollah to unleash suicide commandos seriously,'' Kinkel was quoted as saying.
``At the same time, no-one in Germany has anything to fear since these suicide commandos apparently only act on orders from the (Iranian) government,'' he said.
The suicide threats came amid a diplomatic row sparked by a Berlin court verdict that jailed an Iranian and three Lebanese for the murder of Kurdish dissidents and accused Tehran of ordering the killings.
The Berlin verdict not only prompted official protest from Iran's leadership but also unleashed a wave of protests in Tehran where thousands of people took to the streets and fundamentalist students tried to storm the German embassy.
The court said Iranian leaders, including the state president and the religious leader, had ordered the killings. But it only mentioned Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahiyan by name. Iran has repeatedly denied all involvement.
The verdict was the first time a European court had clearly attributed political responsibility for any of the dozens of assassinations of Iranian opposition figures abroad since the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979.
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Italian police reinforced security at a papal audience Saturday following a warning that Islamic terrorists had formed an attack list that could include Pope John Paul II.
About a dozen armed vehicles from Italy's paramilitary police were parked just outside St. Peter's Square while the pope greeted about 5,000 people in the Vatican auditorium. Other officers took part in strengthened patrols and additional metal detector were added outside the auditorium, the ANSA news agency reported.
Italian police collaborate with the Vatican's Swiss Guard for security and crowd control measures. Italy's military intelligence agency issued the warning about a possible terrorist threat Thursday after relations between Western Europe and Iran soured.
All European Union nations expect Greece withdrew their ambassadors from Iran after a Berlin court ruled that Iranian leaders had ordered the killing of an Iranian Kurdish opposition leader and three aides.
The Vatican has not directly commented on the warnings, but made it clear the pope plans to continue his regular schedule.
'American citizens attending the festival are urged to use care,' the statement said. 'Suspicious packages and unattended parcels should be reported to the proper authorities. Persons who behave in a suspicious manner should likewise be brought to the attention of the appropriate security personnel.'
It was not immediately known whether U.S. citizens in the emirate have received threats of any kind. The consulate could not be reached for comment.
Newspapers have not reported suspicious activities of any kind during the month-long festival, which began March 27.
Dubai officials have said that the shopping extravaganza, which ends April 26, is expected to attract 2 million tourists to this tiny emirate of some 650,000 people.
The festival, during which most shops in Dubai are offering discount and raffles, has attracted many visitors from Iran, and some from Iraq. The governments of both countries are hostile to the U.S., but it was not clear if that was the reason for the advisory.
This oil and trade-rich emirate, one of the seven sheikdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates, has a low crime rate. About 75 percent of Dubai's population is made up of expatriates, most of them Asians. The number of U.S. citizens living in Dubai or visiting during the shopping festival was not immediately known.