Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact

Vojtech Mastny, Project Coordinator

13 NOVEMBER 2001


Today's verdict by the German court that finds Libya responsible for the 1986 terrorist attack on the "La Belle" discotheque in Berlin is supplemented by new evidence made public on the Zurich-based web site of the Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact (PHP)―an international consortium of scholars dedicated to the study of the historical background of European security.

The new evidence of the US retaliatory raid provoked by the attack and of the Libyan response comes from a report made at that time by Soviet General Koldunov after an on-site inspection. It was given at a confidential briefing of Soviet allies during the session of the Military Council of the Warsaw Pact on 23-25 April 1986. The document, recorded by the East German intelligence, has been found in the Berlin files of the State Security Service (Stasi) by PHP associate Bernd Schäfer, a senior research scholar at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C.

General Koldunov's account reveals as false Libyan assertions that at many as 20 US aircraft were lost in the raid; in fact, only one failed to return. The report sheds light on the tense relationship between the Soviet Union, which supplied Libya with advanced air defenses, and the state ranking at that time as a premier sponsor of international terrorism. Soviet-supplied Libyan fighters never took off and missile complexes never fired as their crews fled in panic. 

US retaliatory action fulfilled its short-term purpose of jolting Colonel Muammar Qadaffi's regime, exposing it to the danger of an overthrow from within, but did not succeed in turning the tide of international terrorism. "In the polarized world of that time," Schäfer concludes in his introduction to the document, "there was no room for an international 'coalition against terror'."

The document is the first to be published from the previously unexplored collection of East German intelligence reports that are being examined and evaluated by the Research Group for the Study of Stasi Archives, led by Schäfer, which is part of the PHP network.

For further information, contact Bernd Schäfer at 1-202-387-3355 or, or Project Coordinator Vojtech Mastny,


Sponsored by the Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the National Security Archive at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, the Institute of Military Studies in Vienna, the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies (CIMA) in Florence, and the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies in Oslo

In association with the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC, Institute for Contemporary History, Munich, Federal Military Archives of Germany, Research Group for the Study of Stasi Archives, Cold War Research Group, Sofia, Institute of International Relations, Prague, Cold War History Research Center, Budapest, Institute for Political Studies of Defense and Military History, Bucharest

Affiliated with the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes