WASHINGTON (Jul. 26)
The FBI and Montgomery County (Maryland) police are continuing the investigation into the bomb explosion which yesterday ripped through the Rockville, Md. home of Morris J. Amitay, executive director of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). According to police, whoever set off the blast must have been “sophisticated” in the use of explosives.
The bomb was detonated by an electrical device not far from the house, according to police reports. About 400 feet of electric cord was found leading from the site of the blast. The explosion caused an estimated $50,000 in damages, punching out the door on the ground floor along with an adjacent window and making a hole 10 feet wide in the side of the house. Neither Amitay, his wife Sybil nor their three children, who were asleep at the time of the explosion around 3 a.m. were hurt but the explosion killed the family dog.
Police theorized that Amitay’s “highly visible” position as a leading advocate for Israel’s cause in Washington made him a likely target. So far no individual or group has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Speculation, however, about who may have been responsible ranged from pro-Palestinian terrorists to members of the Hanafi Moslem sect whose leader along with other members were convicted last Saturday in connection with the armed takeover last March of three buildings in Washington, including the B’nai B’rith headquarters.
PRO-PALESTINIANS DENY INVOLVEMENT
Police so for have discounted a Hanafi role in the bombing. Representatives of some of the major pro-Palestinian groups have denied any involvement. Dr. M. T.Mehdi, president of the American-Arab Relations Committee, said in a statement released today in Chicago where he was visiting that the “terrorist attack…even if it might have been the work of a Palestinian or a pro-Palestinian organization” should be condemned. “Violence to settle political issues has no place here (in the United States).”
Amitay, 41, has long been considered one of the most effective spokesmen for Israel on Capital Hill. A former State Department official, he had been a legislative assistant to Rep. Robert W. Kastenmeir (D, Wis.) and Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D. Conn.) before joining AIPAC in December, 1974.
Yesterday’s incident recalled the assassination of Col. Yosef Alon, the Israeli air and naval attache in Washington, who was shot outside his Bethesda, Md. home in July, 1973. No one has ever been arrested in that case.