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Abu Nidal Considered Prime Suspect in Rome Synagogue Attack

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Abu Nidal, a shadowy figure in the rogues gallery of Palestinian terrorists, has emerged as the prime suspect behind the machinegun and grenade attack on Rome’s main synagogue Saturday which took the life of a two-year-old child and wounded 37 other men, women and children.

Italian police, investigating the latest terrorist assault on Italian Jews, appear to have confirmed that the weapons used were of the same type as those employed in attacks on Jews and others in Paris, Brussels, London and Vienna in the last two years, all of them attributed to the Abu Nidal gang.

Forensic experts have identified fragments from Soviet-made F-1 grenades at the scene of the attack. They say the 9 mm. bullets extracted from the victims were fired from Polish-made Maszynowy PM63 submachine guns, a weapon rarely found in the West but common in the eclectic arsenal of Middle East terrorists.

FRENCH POLICE COOPERATING WITH ITALIANS

French police are cooperating with the Italian authorities in this case, and presumably the police of other countries. Abu Nidal’s terrorists were implicated in a similar attack on the Jewish community center in Vienna in the summer of 1981 and in the murder a few months earlier of a Vienna City Council member known to be friendly to Israel.

Nidal, whose present whereabouts are unknown, is also alleged to have been responsible for the assassination of at least one Palestine Liberation Organization representative in Europe. He was supposedly "condemned to death" by a PLO court in 1974. According to reports here, Nidal’s gang works in tandem with various European terrorist groups on an international scale and probably has bases in most European countries.

Meanwhile, the anger of Italian Jews against Pope John Paul II and top government leaders who received PLO chief Yasir Arafat in Rome last month is subsiding slowly, but not their bitterness and grief. The reception accorded Arafat and the Italian media’s harsh criticism of Israel’s actions in Lebanon is widely believed by Jews to have created the climate for violence against Jews.

But Jewish leaders and intellectuals are now reminding the community that those responsible for the attack on the Rome synagogue were probably the same Palestinian terrorists who perpetrated similar outrages long before the war in Lebanon and long before Arafat’s audience with the Pope.

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