New York (Sep. 7)
The director of the Jewish Defense League denied today there are any militant factions in the JDL, after an anonymous group, calling itself "Thunder of Zion," and claiming to be "a militant faction" of the JDL, claimed responsibility for two firebomb incidents in Manhattan yesterday.
Arno Weinstein, the JDL Director, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency there are no "factions" in the JDL. But, he added, in the routine JDL reaction to such reports, that the JDL "applauded" the actions of the group in the hope they would focus attention on Soviet suppression of Jews.
Seven firebombs, including one that detonated, were placed in the area of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, leading police officials to increase security precautions in the area on Manhattan’s upper East Side.
In the other incident, police reported that a small bomb exploded at 1:40 a.m. at the Four Continent Book Store on lower Fifth Avenue, causing minor damage to the front window of the bookstore which sells books published in the Soviet Union. A caller told news agencies that "Thunder of Zion" claimed responsibility. The caller said the group was demanding the release of Soviet Jewish dissident Anatoly Shcharansky and "all Soviet Jews."
Like the JDL, local law enforcement officials said they had never heard of the group. A spokesman identified the group, in telephone calls as the "Thunder of Zion" wing of the JDL.
SERIES OF BOMBING ACTIONS
The bomb that went off in the Soviet Mission area had been placed under an empty car with diplomatic license plates, producing minor damage. The car, however was registered to the Nigerian Mission to the UN.
Two of the six firebombs had been placed under unoccupied Soviet Mission cars parked near the mission building. They had failed to go off because their lighted fuses went out, police said. The four other bombs were found in a litter basket near the mission building and were removed without incident by the police bomb squad.
Patrick Murphy, police department chief of operations, said after the bombs were found that the regular around-the-clock four-man security detail for the Soviet Mission was being expanded by three more officers on each shift. He also said unspecified anti-crime measures were being increased.
He said the bombings indicated "a step up from the usual harassment" of abusive telephone calls, including bomb threats, to the Soviet Mission. Joseph Valiquette, a special agent of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said his agency was conducting "a very active" investigation of the bomb incidents.