PARIS (Dec. 26)
French police said today that they have broken up a Palestinian terrorist ring headquartered in France that was preparing a major operation in Europe using Turkish militants for the first time. Thirteen men, 10 of them Turks, were arrested within the last week for stockpiling arms and explosives. Three of the men, one of whom has been identified as Palestinian, were arrested on Dec. 19 at the French-Italian border town, Mondane, in a car which police sources said was used to transport arms to a villa in a southern suburb of Paris.
A day later, 10 Turks who said they were working in cooperation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) were arrested in the villa where the police discovered 44 pounds of plastic explosives, detonators, grenades, machine guns, small arms, book bombs and numerous false identity papers.
According to many observers, the PFLP was responsible for the recent terrorist attack at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport which claimed 32 lives. The investigation here was carried out by the “Direction de la Securite du Territorie,” the French equivalent of the FBI. According to Israeli sources, the DST was put on the alert by the Israeli secret service which is said to have warned French police of the possible presence in France of a car carrying Palestinian terrorists.
Police sources said the villa served as an arsenal for weapons to be used in a future Palestinian operation somewhere in Europe, but most likely not in France. These sources pointed out that it is the first time Turkish militants have participated in Palestinian actions outside their own borders. They recalled that Japanese militants have already aided Palestinian terrorists as witnessed by the May 30, 1972 attack on Lod Airport.
Meanwhile, in Rome, heavily armed security forces were deployed in and around Ciampino Airport today in a sudden alert following warnings of a possible terrorist attack. Police would not reveal the source of the warning which came little more than a week after five Palestinian terrorists fire-bombed a Pan American jet at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport, killed 32 persons and hijacked a Lufthansa jet to Kuwait.
Ciampino is Rome’s second airport. It was surrounded this morning by armored cars as police armed with machine guns spread out through the terminal buildings. People and cars entering the airport were carefully searched. A West German charter flight was delayed in departing for Strasbourg while its luggage was searched. Police said nothing was found.