West Berliners find their city on security alert in wake of US raid on Libya
The 6,000 American GIs in West Berlin are under curfew from midnight to 5:00 a.m. At Koch Street, the first station for subways out of East Berlin, West Berlin policemen check the ID cards of any obvious Middle Easterners.
Libyan diplomats in East Berlin -- who are suspected of aiding the terrorist bombing of West Berlin's La Belle discothe`que April 4 -- are searched if they enter West Berlin and are advised that if they come back they will be expelled or taken to court.
The security status in West Berlin, ever since the US air strike on Libya last Tuesday, has been ``Threat Con Red,'' the highest alert short of military engagement. The US has said it has electronic intercept proof connecting the Libyan People's Bureau (embassy) in East Berlin with the fatal bombing at La Belle, a hangout of GIs.
``Threat Con Red'' won't continue at this pitch much longer. But for now, the sobered US soldiers are heeding the advice not to go to discos that are popular with Americans. Some 1,200 West Berlin policemen are still making spotchecks of everyone coming from East Berlin, including those on the subways that run every 15 minutes from the northwest of West Berlin to East Berlin's Friedrichstrasse and then on to southeast West Berlin.
Heightened security continues at the US command headquarters in West Berlin; visitors are turned away unless they have appointments registered with guards. Top US diplomats are so closely watched by bodyguards that they have little private life left.
Amerika Haus, the US cultural center, is largely back to normal, though for two years that ``normal'' has included metal detector tests of everyone entering the premises. On the night after the US strike on Libya, there was a demonstration of some 5,000 people in West Berlin, and there was, in the words of one US diplomat, a ``cocoon'' of policemen around the place. A second demonstration by an estimated 6,500 took place on Saturday.
A few of the anti-American protests in West Berlin and other West German cities have ended in violence; outside an American base Bremen Sunday, some 1,200 demonstrators threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police. Two persons were detained.
In their measures the three allied powers responsible for West Berlin's security -- the US, Britain, and France -- have been careful not to compromise West Berlin's status as an open city. It always causes some embarrassment to tighten obvious security checks, since the free movement practiced in West Berlin is a point of pride by contrast to walled-in East Berlin.
As usual, East Germany -- to US indignation -- took the opportunity to welcome what it called Western patrolling of the East-West Berlin border.
The West says Berlin is still legally a single unit under four-power control, since no World War II peace treaty ever resolved its status. For this reason any Libyan diplomats expelled from West Berlin will not be packed off to East Berlin, but rather to East Germany.