NEW YORK (Mar. 18)
Government agencies in Washington and Paris have launched extensive drives to investigate and apprehend members of the Black September movement wanted in connection with a series of terrorist plots against Israeli and Jordanian installations in the United States and France.
An international manhunt is underway for an Iraqi citizen and one or more co-conspirators charged by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General’s office with rigging bombs in three cars in New York planned to detonate at noon March 4 when Israeli Premier Golda Meir arrived in the city.
A federal warrant was issued Thursday night for Khalid Dahham al-Jawari, 27, who reportedly left the U.S. after helping to plant explosive devices in three separate cars parked near the El Al airlines freight terminal at Kennedy Airport, in front of the Israel Discount Bank and near the First Israel Bank and Trust Ce. The finding of explosives in cars at the first two sites was reported earlier. The disclosure of the third bom-laden car was made for the first time Thursday night at a press conference here.
COULD HAVE KILLED ANYONE WITHIN 100 YARDS
John F. Malone, assistant director of the New York office of the FBI, said the car near the El Al terminal had Black September literature but did not indicate whether similar literature was found in the other two cars. He said also that there might have been more than one person involved in planting the bombs because the amount of explosive devices rigged would have been “a pretty tough job for one man.” Malone declined to say in which countries the suspects were being sought or whether the FBI had been in contact with the Iraqi government.
According to Malone, the bombs failed to explode because of “an error in the circuitry system.” He added, however, that when police experts detonated one of the bombs the explosion produced a ball of fire 25 feet in diameter that rose to 50 to 75 feet. “Anyone within 100 yards would have been killed,” he said.
The cars in front of the two Israeli banks were on Fifth Avenue, a busy mid-town commercial and shopping thoroughfare. All three cars had been rented. According to the FBI, al-Jawari arrived in the U.S. from Canada in January. An Arab informer reportedly identified al-Jawari as the key person in the terrorist plot.
FRENCH POLICE QUESTION ARAB SUSPECTS
Meanwhile, French police questioned two Arabs yesterday at Briancon whom they suspected of plotting to blow up the Jordanian Embassy in Paris in protest against the detention of Palestinians. The police arrested the men Friday after they entered France from Italy. Plastic explosive material, detonators and timing devices were found in their cars. One man said he was a Jordanian businessman accompanied by a professional chauffer. But police found that the names the two Arabs gave were false and are trying to determine their nationality.
Italian police, suspecting that the two men might be arms dealers, had alerted French police to the car they were driving with German license plates. The explosive material and devices were concealed under the car’s heating system and chassis. On Thursday, two Arabs were arrested in an explosive-laden car near Gap, France. Informed sources reported that one of them is a top member of El Fatah and has carried out missions in Israeli-administered areas.
Earlier in the week, a 45-year-old French medical technician was charged in Paris with complicity in the attack carried out last Aug. by the Black September against an oil pipeline in Trieste, Italy. Tho woman, Mrs. Therese Lefebvre, has already been indicted for complicity in the murder of the self-styled Syrian journalist, Khodr Kanou, Mrs. Lefebvre is suspected of being one of the European members of the Black September.
An Italian magistrate who questioned her in Paris suspects her, according to the French and Italian press reports of having been present at the time of the attack. A 24-year-old French actress, whose name was not revealed, was also questioned. She is suspected of having helped Mrs. Lefebvre at the time of the pipeline attack.