Four former Green Berets, recruited in 1977 by a firm with close ties to the Central Intelligence Agency, are still in Libya training commandos in basic combat tactics, according to the former CIA operative who headed the firm.
Edwin P. Wilson, who has been accused of smuggling weapons to Libya and comspiring to kill a political rival of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, told ABC News yesterday that the former Green Berets are providing "low-level training" to Libyan military officers.
The four apparently are among 10 former Green Berets that Wilson's company, acting on behalf of an unidentified Swiss firm, recruited to run terrorist schools in Libya four years ago. Although acknowledging his part in their recruitment, Wilson denied that the former Army officers engaged in training terrorists.
I don't believe this country [Libya] is training any terrorists, let alone the Green Berets training them," Wilson told ABC correspondent Greg Dobbs in Libya.
Wilson, 52, and amother former CIA operative, Frank E. Terpil, were indicted in April, 1980, for allegedly supplying Qaddafi's government with explosives. Both men are said to have used their CIA connections to set themselves up in the international arms business, specializing in providing explosives and timers for bombs to repressive foreign governments.
The CIA has acknowledged that some of its employes provided support to these activities without the approval or knowledge of the agency and subsequently were fired.
In the ABC interview, Wilson also discussed his role as a middleman in shipping explosives to Libya and setting up "a small school for minefield clearing, for clearing boobytraps." He said he believed that the United States secretly supported Qaddafi until recently.
One of Wilson' recruits, retired Master Sgt. Luke F. Thompson, told United Press International that believed he was part of a CIA operation and that the Army had authorized his participation when he helped set up a training program in Libya.
Thompson, who lives in Honolulu, said his commanding officer in the Green Berets was aware of the mission and granted him leave to undertake it. Whilson organized and financed the oeration, he said.
Wilson told ABC that Thompson is "a loudmouth, a liar, and we are well rid of him."
A Pentagon spokesman said that Thompson retired from the Army in 1978 and that the cases of the other former Green Berets have been turned over to the Justice Department.