VIENNA (Aug. 12)
A series of bombings aimed at Jewish personalities, one of them the visiting Satmar Rebbe, and shops owned by Austrian Jews has been planned and implemented by neo-Nazis, Austrian authorities indicated today.
Two men, one a wanted West German rightwing terrorist, have been apprehended but neither has made any confession so far. Police say the evidence against them seems firm.
The bombings started last winter, when an explosive device was deposited in front of the Vienna apartment of Chief Rabbi Akiba Eisenberg. He and his wife were not home when the device detonated. Only the apartment door was damaged.
In mid-June, a similar bomb attack was made on the home of Simon Wiesenthal, head of the Nazi Documentation Center in Vienna. Wiesenthal and his wife were home at the time but neither was hurt in the blast.
Two weeks later, a bomb detonated at the apartment of Alexander Giese, a television journalist, but no one was hurt. Two weeks ago, a bomb exploded in Salzburg in front of a clothing shop owned by an Austrian Jew. A few days later, another bomb went off in front of another shop in Vienna of the same company. In Salzburg, the bombers left leaflets at the store which said, “Do not buy in Jewish stores.”
Last week a memorial for victims of the Holocaust in Vienna was desecrated with swastikas. A Jewish-owned bank in Vienna was hit by a Molotov cocktail. Last Friday, a bomb which failed to go off when its trigger mechanism malfunctioned was found in a Vienna park.
An explosives expert in the Viennese police department said the failed bomb was by far the most powerful in the series. He said all of the bombs were either pressure devices or Iron tubes filled with gunpowder and alarm clock triggers. Police suspect all the bombs were made by the same individual or group.
‘A COMEDY OF CRIME’
What police called a “comedy of crime” got considerable attention in Austrian media. Norbert Burger, leader of the rightwing National Democratic Party (NDP), called a press conference to announce he would make known the identity of one of the wanted terrorists. The police immediately took Burger into custody for interrogation. A few hours later, Ekkehard Weil, 33, wanted in West Germany as a neo-Nazi, was arrested.
Interior Minister Erwin Lane said he believed Burger had made his public gesture out of fear that police would have found Weil at the home of on NDP functionary. Lane said Austrian police had proof that Weil, who is wanted internationally for terror acts in West Germany, has been in Austria for more than a year, housed and supported by NDP members. Weil is also suspected of a bank robbery in Austria two years ago.
Police said that Weil and another arrested suspect, Attila Bajetec, 23, a Hungarian apprehended last Sunday, have denied any connection with the bombings. But police officials said they have ample evidence against both Weil and Bajetec.
The threat against the Satmar Rebbe, Moshe Teitelbaum, was made known to Austrian authorities last week. Teitelbaum had been vacationing in the Austrian mountains. Police responded by tightening security measures at Semmering, Teitelbaum’s vacation place. Last Sunday, the Satmar Rebbe left for his home in Brooklyn.
With one exception, which was not disclosed, the names of the intended victims of the bomb plantings were contained in a hit list circulated in West German neo-Nazi circles. The list was leaked to an Austrian newspaper earlier this year.
Initially, the police had pursued the theory that the bombing efforts were the work of Palestinian terrorists. But after the arrests of Weil and Bajetec, the police indicated they were fairly certain that West German and Austrian rightwingers were responsible.