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Alleged hit team leader cashes Libyan check

By WADIE KIROLOS

CAIRO, Egypt -- The leader of a hit team allegedly hired by Libya to kill an exiled dissident was taken under guard Monday to cash a $90,000 check paid by the regime of Col. Moammar Khadafy after it was tricked into believing the target was dead.

The money from the cashed check was immediately confiscated by security men for use as evidence against the suspected members of the assassination squad.

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In Malta, Khadafy refused to comment on charges by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that members of the four-man hit team had implicated the Libyan leader in plots to assassinate West European and moderate Arab leaders.

'I am not in the position to answer the man who is called Hosni Mubarak because he clearly showed himself to be an intelligence officer appointed by the CIA in Cairo,' Khadafy told reporters at the end of a three-day visit. 'I do not commit myself to reply to such people.'

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Mubarak said Sunday that among the targets of hit squads funded by Khadafy were British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, French President Francois Mitterrand and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

He said the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan also were marked and claimed Khadafy was involved in the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The alleged leader of the hit squad, Anthony William Gill, 48, a Briton described by officials as a veteran terrorist, was taken under heavy guard to the Bank of Credit and Commerce in central Cairo after regular business hours.

Pulling up his jacket to hide his face from cameramen, Gill entered the bank with his escort and cashed a $90,000 check that officials said was part of the fee he and three accomplices were promised by Libya for killing former Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Hamid El-Bakoush.

Officials said the check was relayed to Gill through an unidentified Rome bank by Libya after the Tripoli government was duped by Egyptian authorities into believing the team had completed its mission. The squad included two Britons and two Maltese.

Egypt, in disclosing the alleged plot Saturday, said Khadafy's government was fooled by a letter and photographs of El-Bakoush covered with red paint given to the Libyan Embassy in Malta.

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The Libyan ambassador rushed the pictures and letter to the Greek island of Crete, where Khadafy was meeting at the time with Mitterrand.

Khadafy, convinced El-Bakoush has been killed, ordered an announcement over Tripoli Radio and directed that the $90,000 be transferred to Gill in Cairo, Egyptian Interior Minister Ahmed Rushdi said.

El-Bakoush, the Libyan prime minister in 1967-68 before Khadafy took power, is a leader of the Front for the Salvation of Libya and has lived in exile in Egypt since 1977. He held a news conference Saturday to prove he was alive.

Rushdi said the four were promised $250,000 for killing El-Bakoush, but Mubarak has mentioned a lower figure of $106,000.

In interviews Monday in Cairo newspapers, Rushdi said the team had orders to kill another Libyan exile, Mustafa El-Baraky, and explore the possibility of stealing a U.S.-made F-16 jetfighter from the Egyptian air force.

Officials said it was not known when the four men would go on trial. They face up to 25 years imprisonment if convicted.

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