PARIS (Sep. 8)
A prominent Lebanese Jewish leader, Albert Atallah, was kidnapped Monday in Beirut by armed men, it was learned here today. In spite of intensive police investigation his fate remains unknown and the kidnappers have not yet been identified. The 67-year-old Jewish leader has served for several years as secretary-general of the Council of Lebanese Jews and is a well-known figure in Lebanese Jewish and non-Jewish affairs. Atallah was reportedly forced into a car while he walked through the predominantly Jewish quarter of Abou Jamil. Police say that in spite of the hour–the kidnapping took place at noon–none of the numerous passersby noticed anything strange.
Police investigators first thought that Atallah might be held for ransom by one of the Palestinian organizations but, the Palestinian Joint Command released an official communique today claiming that “no Palestinian has been directly or indirectly involved in the affair.” None of the more extremist Palestinian organizations has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping as they usually do.
The local authorities do not believe that Atallah has secretly left the country as he never expressed any intention of doing so. Moreover, official circles say that he could have left legally and openly had he so desired. The French newspaper, Le Monde, reported from Beirut that the Lebanese government is taking “a very grave view” of the incident in view of the fact that another Jewish businessman, Edouard Sassoun, was murdered in his office in downtown Beirut more than two years ago and his murderers have not yet been found.