PARIS (Sep. 5)
Two new Palestinian terrorist actions were reported today. In one action, three terrorists seized the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Paris, taking 11 hostages, including five Arab diplomats. The other incident occurred near the Rome airport where police found and arrested four Arabs in possession of ultra-modern ground-to-air missile launchers capable of hitting El Al airliners on their regular stopovers at Fiumicino Airport.
The three terrorists holed up in the Saudi Arabian Embassy threatened to execute one or more of the hostages or blow up the Embassy if their demands were not met by a certain time. Through the day they kept postponing the deadline. They sought safe passage to Orly Airport, with their weapons and hostages, for a flight to Algiers.
Once there, they said, they would demand the release of Abou Daoud, the terrorist imprisoned in Khartoum after the murders last March of two American and one Belgian diplomat at the Saudi Arabian Embassy there. The initial response of French authorities was to offer the terrorists only safe passage to the airport, but without hostages or weapons.
A Baghdad newsman, allowed to enter the Embassy to talk to the terrorists, reported they had agreed to extend their deadline again because no plane was available to fly them to Algeria. The Embassy seizure took place on the first anniversary of the terrorist slaughter of 11 Israeli athletes in Munich.
Riot police stood ready with tear gas cannisters to rush the Embassy. Members of a French antiterrorist brigade, formed after the Munich killings, rushed to the scene. The son of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was in Paris, negotiating with the terrorists. By late evening, the terrorists were still in the Embassy.
MISSILE LAUNCHERS MADE IN USSR
In Italy, the house in which the four Arabs were arrested and their missile launchers seized was in Ostia, about nine miles from the Fiumicino Airport. Italian counter-espionage agents were on the scene when the Arabs were arrested. The agents began an investigation of the presence of the missile launchers, reportedly made in the Soviet Union and still only in the design stage in Italian weapons manufacture.
According to reports, police officials told a press conference in Rome that the Arab terrorist squad had intended to shoot down an Israeli El Al airliner. They said there were two missile launchers in order to permit the second one to be used if the first one failed to hit the target. The officials noted that three El Al flights used the airport today.
Several months ago Italian authorities released several Arab terrorists and were severely criticized by Israel for doing so. If the Arabs, whose backgrounds were not immediately disclosed, fired the launchers at El Al planes, it would have been the first time they had used such weapons. In hijacking planes and killing passengers and bystanders as they did in Athens and Lod Airports only conventional weapons were used.
The discovery of the launchers was made as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) met in Rome to discuss the threat to air safety from increased hijackings. Last week the ICAO condemned by 87-1, with four abstentions, Israel’s Aug. 10 interception of a Lebanese airliner.