Clipped From Hope Star
At least 10 countries have skilled commandos LONDON (AP) - Besides the United States, West Germany and Israel, at least 10 other countries have highly skilled commando units trained to rescue hijack hostages, an Associated Press survey shows. They are Britain, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, and Indonesia. The British colony of Hong Kong also has a commando group. Though some governments acknowledge they have commandos whose job is to act against hijackers, authorities disclose few details about them. West Germany's unit flew to Somalia early this week and rescued the 86 surviving hostages of a hijacked Lufthansa airliner in Mogadishu. The rescue raid left three hijackers dead and a fourth wounded, Until that operation, Israel's commandos were considered the world's elite anti-terror strike force because of their dramatic rescue .f hijack passengers at Entebbe•• Uganda, in July 1976. Besides its commandos, Israel has security men aboard flights of Israeli El Al airliners. The United States and some other countries oppose that technique, citing possible danger to passengers in the event of gtinbattles at high altitudes. In one dramatic operation in May 1972, Israeli commandos ended the hijack of a Belgian Sabena plane by disguising themselves as mechanics and bursting into the plane at Israel's Ben-Gurlon airport. Two hijackers and one hostage were killed in the Shootout, and 96 hostages were freed. The British lent some assistance to the West Germans in the Mogadishu operation, sending two officers of the Special Air Services Regiment, usually known as the SAS, and providing especially developed grenades that explode with a flash which stuns anyone within range. They incapacitated the Mogadishu hijackers long enough to give the commando raiders the upper hand. Secrecy shrouds the SAS, Founded in World War II for sabotage operations behind enemy lines. The regiment takes part in anti-terrorist exercises at lx)ndon's Heathrow airport, but so far has not been required to engage in any direct action against hijackers. Typical of the secrecy surrounding the commandos is the sparse detail given by the Pentagon about the American anti- hijacking unit. The Pentagon acknowledged that troops and equipment from each U.S. armed service branch have been assembled as an anti-terrorist group, but would say little more on the grounds that it might compromise the unit's effectiveness. The Denver Post reported Wednesday, however, that commandos formed from the U.S. Army's Green Berets, the Marines, Navy and Air Force after the Israelis' Entebbe operation have been training at Fort Carson, Colo., Fort Greeley, Alaska, and Fort Irwin, Calif. The newspaper said they have been reserved only for overseas roles. Domestic situations — like Thursday's hijacking of a Frontier Airlines plane to Atlanta, Ga. — are left' to the Federal Bureau of InvijS' tigation and local poligf, it said.