The head of Italy's military intelligence organization charged in an interview published today that the attackers in the Rome and Vienna international airports Friday were trained in Iran and came to Europe via Damascus, Syria.
Adm. Fulvio Martini, the military intelligence chief, made those charges without elaborating in the influential Rome daily La Repubblica.
In Washington, a State Department official indicated U.S. counter-terrorist officials were not sure about the attackers' alleged Syrian and Iranian connections.
Martini further said there was as yet no hard evidence to identify the extremist organization involved, despite a note found on one attacker asserting they represented the heretofore unheard of "Martyrs of Palestine." But he added that their tactics gave credence to the suspicion that they belonged to the organization of Abu Nidal, a renegade Palestinian opposed to the mainstream Palestine Liberation Organization.
Martini's charges reinforced veiled assertions by Prime Minister Bettino Craxi of foreign governmental support for the terrorists.
Pope John Paul II told worshipers in St. Peter's Square today that "there are no strong enough words to condemn the criminal" attacks at the two airports that left a total of 18 dead and more than 100 wounded.
"Once again violence has struck innocent lives," the pope said, "bringing agony and fear in every part of the world." He said the attacks could only cause "horror" in the "conscience of every civilized person."
The pope's message came as judicial and police authorities intensified their investigations, interviewing again a wounded gunman who survived the Rome attack and searching for a suspected secret "operation base." Police suspect such a base provided the arms and hand grenadring with some of his work. need visas to enter Italy.
Police sources said the serial numbers of the Moroccan passports, as registered in the hotels here, linked the documents with other Moroccan passports used by Arab guerrillas in September in grenade attacks on the Cafe de Paris along the Via Veneto and the nearby offices of British Airways.
These sources said the passports -- in the names of Mohammed Bou Darwish and Yasser Hmida -- were not found on the bodies of the two terrorists and have not been recovered. Apparently they had been handed over before the attack to suspected accomplices, who, police surmise, provided the Kalashnikov assault rifles and grenades that were used in the attack.
These sources said Sica was operating on the assumption that the four Arab terrorists had the help of one or two persons during the three weeks they stayed in Rome before the attack.