ROME (Jan. 31)
Italy is seeking the extradition from Greece of a 22-year-old Jordanian, Osama Abdel Al Zumar, believed to be one of the terrorists who attacked the main synagogue in Rome last October 9, killing a two-year-old child and wounding 33 other persons, it was disclosed here today.
Al Zumar was arrested in Athens at the end of last November. On December 23, two Italian magistrates, Luigi Gennaro and Pasquale Lapadura, issued extradition orders after learning of the arrest through Interpol. The Italian government submitted a formal extradition request to the Greek government on January 8 and is awaiting a reply.
COVER VERSION BY GREEK AUTHORITIES
News of these developments was suppressed until now in the hope that Al Zumar’s accomplices–said to number at least four — would be traced in other countries with the cooperation of local police and Interpol.
According to press reports here, the Greek authorities released a deliberately false report of the circumstances of Al Zumar’s arrest so as not to alert other terrorists and to allow police to investigate his activities and those of his accomplices in secret.
The cover version given by the Greek authorities was that Al Zumar and two other Arabs were arrested when their car was stopped at the Greek-Yugoslav border and found to be carrying “a large quantity of explosives.” It is not clear whether Italian authorities furnished their Greek counterparts with information that led to Al Zumar’s arrest or whether the information was transmitted after the arrest was made.
TRACING TERRORIST MOVEMENTS
The main objective of the police investigation in Greece seems to be to trace terrorist movements. Since the Palestine Liberation Organization was expelled from Lebanon, terrorists have been using Cyprus and Greece as way-stations, one Italian newspaper reported. According to the paper, Al Zumar and three accomplices stopped off in Cyprus where the PLO has reportedly established an active center of operations to plan new terrorist acts. They travelled to Greece from Cyprus, the paper said.
Another paper reported that the Italian magistrates were informed by Interpol that fragmentation grenades used in attacks on Jewish institutions in other European capitals in the past few years were identical to those used in the Rome synagogue attack. The terrorists have been linked to an extremist Palestinian terrorist group headed by Abu Nidal which is also purported to be responsible for attacks on PLO representatives in Europe.