WASHINGTON (Dec. 26)
State Department officials reported they had been informed by the United States Embassy in Athens that no Americans were injured in the Arab terrorist attack today on an El Al airliner at the Athens airport. The Department, concerned about the extension of Arab terrorist activities to Greece, was understood to have the situation under careful observation.
Greek diplomats here predicted that the two Arab terrorists captured at the airport shortly after they blasted the El Al Boeing jet with machine gun fire and hand grenades would be prosecuted to the full extent of Greek law. They expressed concern that the incident might diminish tourism to Greece by inhibiting the many American Jewish and Israeli travelers who transit Athens in El Al airliners.
Greek diplomats were reported to be sensitive to the airport assault because Greece has consistently refused to accord normal diplomatic recognition to Israel, Greek representatives are posted to Israel and an Israeli representation is permitted in Athens but de jure recognition of Israel has been withheld, apparently out of fear of offending the Arab states. Greek officials say many Greeks live in Egypt and other Arab states and add that Greece maintains important trade, shipping and airline ties with the Arab countries.