NEW YORK (May. 24)
City police and agents of the FBI left the office of the Jewish Defense League here in a shambles yesterday after a fruitless three-hour search for what they claimed were “two concealed explosive devices.” Sheldon Davis, a JDL spokesman, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the search for the alleged devices was just a ploy to get into the office. “The extent of the damage and the frenzy displayed by the mercenaries of the Soviet. Union in ransacking our office indicates that they were warning us not to make waves during Brezhnev’s visit to Washington.”
He said that 20 men with anti-bomb equipment and a dog trained to sniff out explosives broke the door to the JDL office, used a sledgehammer to break open a safe that contained membership and financial files, pulled out desk drawers and scattered their contents over the floor, destroyed and seized office equipment and seized membership and financial files. He added that the agents harassed JDL’ers and refused to identify themselves.
Ellen Garfinkle, JDL office manager, said “it does not seem reasonable, even if there was some reason to suspect the presence of devices, and there was no reason to suspect even that, to seize membership and financial files and office equipment. It seems more reasonable to assume that the word has been given to harass the JDL and to keep it under scrutiny-while Brezhnev is in this country.”
STEP UP ANTI-SOVIET HARASSMENT
A spokesman for the FBI told the JTA that no files had been seized but that “things were taken and a receipt was left.” He said the search was conducted on the basis of a search warrant issued yesterday by the U.S. District Court and that the warrant was shown to the JDL’ers. He added that the JDL’ers “refused to cooperate” when they were asked to open the safe themselves or to provide the combination. “If they had cooperated, we would not have had to resort to other means to open the safe,” he said. He declined to say why there was any suspicion that explosive devices might be in the JDL office or whether the search was, in fact, a hint to the JDL not to make waves.
Davis asserted that the JDL will not be intimidated as a result of yesterday’s action. “Because of that, the JDL will intensify its operations when Brezhnev arrives,” he said, “and beginning today we will launch a harassment campaign against Russian diplomats at the Soviet Mission to the United Nations.” Leonid I. Brezhnev, Soviet Communist Party Secretary, is scheduled to arrive in Washington on June 18 to meet with President Nixon.