JERUSALEM (Oct. 25)
Israeli sources expressed astonishment today over the speedy release by Dutch authorities of a man picked up in Amsterdam Monday with letter bombs and a suitcase filled with hand grenades, explosive chemicals, firearms and ammunition. Israeli sources said the man was an Algerian diplomat assigned to Brazil. Dutch authorities said he was a Palestinian holding a Jordanian passport and that his destination was Venezuela.
There was no official comment here today but sources said the Foreign Ministry was in contact with the Dutch government to establish exactly what happened and what was learned from the interrogation of the Algerian.
(The Israeli Embassy in The Hague asked the Netherlands government today for “clarification” of the man’s release yesterday, barely 24 hours after his arrest at Amsterdam Airport. The Embassy remarked that the attitude of Dutch authorities in this instance was “exaggeratedly liberal.”)
CANNOT DETAIN PEOPLE ON SUSPICION
According to reports from Amsterdam, the man, whose name was not disclosed, told the Dutch authorities that he did not know the contents of the suitcase and that he was merely doing a favor for a Syrian colleague who had asked him to deliver it to an Algerian Embassy in South America. The suspect was permitted to board a plane for Venezuela yesterday, but his luggage was confiscated.
(Two Dutch Cabinet ministers, Interior Minister Willem Geertsema and Justice Minister An-dries Van Agt said on a television interview last night that a democratic state like Holland “cannot detain people merely on suspicion of terrorism.” They said the suspect was released because the police did not have a watertight case against him.)
Sources in Jerusalem said Israel was in contact with a number of governments, including South American governments. It was assumed that Israel would ask whatever country the bomb carrier was headed for to oust him as persona non grata. Israeli officials stressed that the bomb carrier’s apparent diplomatic status was further proof that some Arab governments are actively collaborating with the terrorist movements and that some Arab embassies serve as bases for terrorist operations. Israelis are convinced that the incident in Amsterdam was not an isolated one but part of a widespread phenomenon.