Two former employes of the Central Intelligence Agency have been indicted for conspiracy, along with the president of a California-based explosive firm, in connection with the operation of a secret training school for terrorists financed by the Libyan government.
The former CIA employes, Edwin P. Wilson, 51, of Upperville, Va., and Frank E. Terpil, 40, of McLean, were also charged by the grand jury with recruiting an American citizen in 1976 to assassinate a former member of the Libyan Revolutionary Council for a $1 million fee.
Federal prosecutors contended at a court hearing yesterday that the alleged murder plot, which was never carried out, was among the services the two men provided to the Libyan government. The target of the alleged assassination plot had been involved in an unsuccessful attempt in 1975 to overthrow the government of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Quaddafi, the prosecutors said.
Law enforcement authorities believe that Wilson, a retired CIA operative who runs a small Washington consulting firm, is now in Libya or Europe. The U.S. Attorney's office here obtained a bench warrant for his arrest shortly after a U.S. District Court grand jury returned the 10-count indictment Wednesday. The indictment was unsealed yesterday.
Terpil was arrested by federal agents yesterday afternoon at the U.S. Secret Service training academy in Beltsville, where he was attending a law enforcement trade show. U.S. Magistrate Lawrence S. Margolis yesterday ordered Terpil held on a $100,000 cash bond.
The third man, Jerome S. Brower, 60, president of J. S. Brower and Associates of Pomona Calif., is scheduled to appear voluntarily in the U.S. District Court here Friday for arraignment on the conspiracy charge.
Brower is also a consultant on explosives to the joint House-Senate Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), which is working on antiterrorism legislation, federal sources said yesterday.
The indictment charges that Wilson, Terpil and Brower conspired to ship a variety of high-powered explosives, explosive boosters, electric blasting caps and other hazardous materials to Libya in connection with the terrorist training project.
As part of the conspiracy in 1976 and 1977, the indictment alleges, the men recruited American citizens, some of whom were former military weapons experts, to construct explosive devices in Libya and teach others the assembly process.
The indictment says the three men claimed they were working on a minefield clearing project in Libya, and used cash or concealed money received and paid out in connection with the terrorist training project in Swiss bank accounts.
According to the indictment, explosive devices were hidden in a variety of commonplace items, from alarm clocks, television sets and attache cases to ashtrays, lamps, flower vases and a gift box of tea.
The grand jury alleged that in July 1977, some of those bombs killed several Libyans and injured three Americans employed by Wilson in an explosion near Tobruk in Northeast Libya.
The indictment charges that Wilson, Terpil and Brower knew when they arranged for the shipments of explosives that they would be used to kill and injure people or set to destroy buildings and vehicles.
Federal laws prohibit transportation overseas of explosives that are intended for illegal use, exportation of certain explosives without a license are charged with conspiring to violate those laws, and with actually violating them.
Wilson and Terpil were each also charged with illegally acting as and transportation of hazardous materials that pose an unreasonable risk to health and safety. All three men agents for the Libyan government, and with conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder in connection with the alleged assassination plot.
Brower was also charged with two counts of making false statements to the grand jury in connection with its investigation of Wilson and Terpil.
The indictment unsealed yesterday followed a two-year investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington along with agents from the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The investigation began in 1976, when the CIA received information that some of its former officers were allegedly involved in selling explosive devices and other materials overseas, according to published reports.
CIA Director Stansfield Turner fired two mid-level agency employes who, the reports said, had introduced Edwin Wilson to firms that supply sensitive equipment to the intelligence agency.
Wilson, once described as a John Wayne look-alike retired from the CIA in 1971. A former Marine, he is reportedly an explosive expert and logistics specialist who once worked as a foreign intelligence expert for the Navy.
Wilson and his wife own a huge farm in Upperville, Va., where they raise horses and cattle.
Various law enforcement sources have described Terpil as a well known dealer in weapons, explosives and other devices, which he allegedly has sold overseas since 1975.
At Terpil's bond hearing yesterday Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Lawrence Barcella Jr. told the federal magistrate that Terpil had signed a $3.2 million contract with Uganda's former head of state, Idi Amin, to provide, among other things, exploding attache cases, guns, electronic equipment and "a variety of other draconian sounding items."
Barcella told the court that Terpil allegedly had boasted to police in New York about his dealings with Uganda, and told them of poisons being used on test-subjects and targets there.
Barcella, who conducted the investigation along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol E. Bruce, FBI agent William Hart and Special Agents Richard Pedersen and Richard Wadsworth of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, alleged that some of Terpil's tales were like Ian Fleming novels. But some of the information was true, Barcella said.
Terpil and another arms dealer, George Gregary Korkala, were arrested in New York on weapons charges in December.
A communications specialist who left the CIA in 1971, Terpil eventually posted a $100,000 bond in New York and was released from custody. Terpil told court officials he has been the head of marketing for a firm called Technology Transfer, located on Connecticut Avenue in Washington.
Terpil and Brower are scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge John Pratt Friday.