VIENNA (Oct. 20)
Bahii Younis, a 29-year-old Palestinian, went on trial here yesterday accused of masterminding the attack on the Jewish community center in the summer of 1981 in which two people were killed and 18 were wounded. He is also charged with plotting the assassination of Heinz Nittel a Vienna city council member and president of the Austrian-Israel Friendship Society who was gunned down in May, 1981.
Younis, a former aircraft engineer in Baghdad and a student at Salzburg University, pleaded not guilty to the two terrorist acts but admitted to possession of several handguns, hand grenades, and forged passports found in his Salzburg apartment. He claimed they were not his but stored there by a person known as Fuad whose true identity he refused to disclose.
Younis was implicated in the 1981 terror wave here by two comrades who were tried and convicted earlier this year. They identified him as a member of Al Asifa, an extremist Palestinian group led by Abu Nidal. Yesterday, Younis claimed he was a member of Harkat Fatah which he said was part of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He contended that Al Asifa, which operates outside PLO umbrella, was trying to discredit his organization.
Observers believe Younis seeks to profit from the respectability accorded the PLO in Western Europe recently by associating himself with Yasir Arafat’s Al Fatah. The PLO has repeatedly claimed that Al Asifa was trying to undermine the PLO’s diplomatic rapprochement with the West and had in fact assassinated PLO representatives in Europe.
Younis’ trial is being conducted under strict security measures. A verdict is expected by the end of this week.