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Cablegate: Greek Press Report of Iranian/Ira Connections

R 111141Z MAY 94
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5905
INFO AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
AMEMBASSY LONDON

UNCLAS ATHENS 004865


DEPT FOR S/CT

E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL IR LY UK EI GR
SUBJECT: GREEK PRESS REPORT OF IRANIAN/IRA CONNECTIONS

REF: (A) DUBLIN 2545; (B) ATHENS 4595

1. AS PER REF A REQUEST, THE FOLLOWING IS EMBASSY
TRANSLATION OF THE "ELEFTHEROS TYPOS" ARTICLE ON
IRA/IRANIAN CONNECTIONS. ALSO SEE PARA 3 FOR AN
ADDITIONAL MEDIA REPORT ON THIS ISSUE.

2. BEGIN TEXT:

GREEK AND BRITISH AUTHORITIES SUSPECT THAT A LARGE
QUANTITY OF HEROIN SMUGGLED TO ENGLAND BY TWO GERMANS
WHO WERE ARRESTED, WAS INTENDED TO HELP FINANCE IRA
ACTIVITIES.

ACCORDING TO RELIABLE INFORMATION FROM "ELEFTHEROS
TYPOS;" A GROUP OF BRITISH INTELLIGENCE AGENTS
SPECIALIZING IN IRA ACTIVITIES WILL BE VISITING ATHENS
AND HAVE REQUESTED A BRIEFING FROM GREEK AUTHORITIES ON
THE EVIDENCE IN THE DRUG SMUGGLING CASE.

THE TWO GERMANS, YURGEN MERX AND HIS WIFE TUNZA-ANNETTE
MERX, ADMITTED TO SMUGGLING LARGE QUANTITIES OF
NARCOTICS TO GREAT BRITAIN ON FOUR OCCASIONS. BRITISH
AUTHORITIES HAVE TRAVELED TO GREECE IN HOPES OF
DETERMINING THE BRITISH RECIPIENTS OF THE NARCOTICS.
THEY HAVE DEDUCED FROM THE GERMANS TESTIMONY THAT THE
NARCOTICS WERE INTENDED TO FINANCE IRA ACTIVITIES.

ACCORDING TO INFORMATION EXCHANGED BETWEEN RELEVANT
AGENCIES, THE SECRET IRANIAN SERVICES ARE BEHIND THE
PREVIOUSLY SMUGGLED A MUCH LARGER AMOUNT.

THE INVESTIGATION FOCUSED ON PATRICK O'BRIAN, A 40 YEAR-
OLD IRISHMAN FROM LIMERICK, WHO FOLLOWED THE SAME ROUTE
AS THE GERMANS AND WAS ALSO ARRESTED IN GREECE. HE HAD
SMUGGLED NARCOTICS WORTH 500 MILLION DRACHMAS (USD 2
MILLION) FROM THE MIDDLE EAST AND TURKEY TO GREAT
BRITAIN. LAST SEPTEMBER O'BRIAN WAS SENTENCED TO SERVE
A NINE YEAR PRISON TERM IN GREECE. BOTH GREEK AND
BRITISH AUTHORITIES HAVE CONNECTED THE O'BRIAN CASE WITH
THE RECENT GERMAN ARREST.

ON JANUARY 14, THE ARAB NEWSPAPER "AL WATAN AL ARABI,"
PUBLISHED IN BEIRUT AND PARIS, CONTAINED A DETAILED
REPORT ON IRA CONTACTS WITH THE IRANIAN SECRET SERVICES.
THE NEWSPAPER NAMED AMIR HOUSEIN TAGAVI AS HEAD OF THE
WESTERN EUROPEAN SECTION OF THE IRANIAN SECRET SERVICES,
AND POSITED THAT TAGAVI COORDINATES CONTACTS BETWEEN THE
IRA AND (THE GREEK TERRORIST GROUP) "17 NOVEMBER" AND
THE "REVOLUTIONARY COUNCIL" OF ABU NIDAL AND THE
HEZBOLLAH.

LAST JANUARY THE ITALIAN NEWSPAPER "CORRIERE DE LA
SERRA" REPORTED THAT 17 NOVEMBER MEMBERS HAD VISITED
TEHRAN AND HAD CONTACTS WITH THE IRANIAN SECRET
SERVICES. IRANIAN OFFICIALS HAVE DENIED ANY
CONNECTIONS, WHILE THE ITALIAN JOURNALIST INSISTS ON THE
ACCURACY OF HIS INFORMATION.

END TEXT.

3. THE FOLLOWING IS EMBASSY TRANSLATION OF A SEPARATE
MAY 4 STORY BY THE GREEK DAILY "ELEFTHEROTYPIA" ON THIS
ISSUE:

FROM LONDON, THE NEWSPAPER "INDEPENDENT" PUBLISHED AN
ARTICLE YESTERDAY REPORTING THAT IRAN OFFERED GUNS AND
MONEY TO THE IRA, ASKING IN RETURN THAT ITS ASSASSINS
MURDER TOP IRANIAN DISSIDENTS. REFERRING TO WELL
INFORMED SOURCES, THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ALSO REPORTED
THAT OFFICIALS OF THE IRANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES
PROPOSED THIS DURING A SECRET MEETING IN TEHRAN, LAST
NOVEMBER. AFTER THREE MONTHS, HOWEVER, THE IRA REJECTED
THE OFFER. REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GREEK TERRORIST
ORGANIZATION 17 NOVEMBER, AS WELL AS THE ETA,
PARTICIPATED IN THE MEETING.

LAST WEEK, THE IRANIAN CHARGE D'AFFAIRS IN LONDON HAS
SUMMONED TO THE MFA AND HAS ASKED THAT THE CONTACTS OF
IRAN WITH THE IRA BE STOPPED. THOSE CONTACTS WERE
DISCLOSED BY THE BRITISH INTELLIGENCE SERVICE.

NILES

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