PARIS (Feb. 21)
The Syrian government has officially denied that the former Beirut Jewish community secretary general, Albert Elias, is being held on Syrian territory. The Syrians also claim that they know “nothing at all” concerning the whereabouts of Elias.
This denial was made on behalf of the Syrian government by its ambassador in Paris, Kamal Hussein, during a meeting with the President of the French Senate, Alain Poher, who is also chairman of the International Conference for Jews In the Arab Lands. The meeting, which took place two weeks ago, only became known here today. Elias was kidnapped in broad daylight on Sept. 6, 1971 while on his way to the Jewish community building in Beirut which is located in the center of the city.
According to highly reliable information, released here on Jan. 26, at the last meeting of the International Conference for the Safeguarding of the Jews in the Middle East, Elias is being detained in a Syrian military prison on the outskirts of Damascus.
Poher’s meeting with the Syrian ambassador was held at the request of the Arab diplomat who apparently wanted to defuse the current campaign launched throughout Western Europe on behalf of Elias’ release. The Syrian diplomat brought no proof to support his claims and, it is understood, his arguments were not found to be “overly convincing” by Poher.