PARIS (Apr. 14)
Jewish organizations in Paris have asked police to increase security measures to protect Jewish installations and facilities in the aftermath of Saturday’s bombing of Bank Leumi, the fourth such attack against the bank since 1977.
The extremist leftwing group, Direct Action, today claimed responsibility for Saturday’s bombing as well as for separate bombings during the day of a French government office dealing with immigrants and the office of an extreme rightwing newspaper, Minute.
A communique by Direct Action said the bombings were carried out by its “Sana Mohaydaleh Commando Unit.” The unit is named after the 16-year-old Shiite suicide bomber who killed two Israeli soldiers and a local civilian and wounded two other Israeli soldiers in south Lebanon last Tuesday.
The bomb at the bank went off at 4:25 a.m., wrecking the building and shattering windows and causing structural damage to the Paris bureau of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, shops, cafes and other office buildings on the street where the bank is located. A police officer on the scene after the bombing said that had the bomb gone off one hour earlier it might have had disastrous consequences as a nightclub and a late night cinema adjacent to the bank were filled with people.
LONG RECORD OF ATTACKS
Direct Action has had a long record of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist attacks. Police authorities investigating this Saturday’s bombings as well as other recent bombing incidents said that several organizations might be involved in the terrorist attacks. They believe that Direct Action might have split into two factions: “hardliners” who recently murdered a French Army General, and “moderates” who carried out Saturday’s attacks.
The distinction between the factions according to the investigators, is that the “hardliners” strike to kill while the “moderates” content themselves with causing material damage. Investigators also believe that there is a connection between the “hardliners” branch of Direct Action and the recently outlawed West European branch of the “Armed Lebanese Revolutionary Factions,” identified as a Marxist group, and German neo-Nazis.
The view of the investigators is based on the arrest a few days ago in Paris of a West German neo-Nazi activist, Godfried Hepp, described as an important member of the illegal Nazi Party. He is suspected of having worked with the Lebanese factions. Police say Hepp was identified and found on the basis of information discovered in a terrorist hideout in Paris last week. The hideout, in an apartment in the northwest of Paris, contained 20 kilograms of explosives, several detonators, submachineguns and pistols.
A gun found in the apartment was believed by police to have been used to kill Israeli diplomat Yaakov Barsimantov and American deputy military attache Col. Charles Ray in 1982. The explosives found were of the same type which had been used to blow up the Rue Copernic Synagogue in Paris in 1980 killing four and injuring 20 people.
Hepp and one of his former accomplices, Walter Kexel, were mentioned as possible suspects in the terrorist squad machinegun attack on Jo Goldenberg’s restaurant on the Rue des Rosiers in Paris’ Jewish quarter on August 9, 1982. Six people were killed and 20 were wounded in that attack. Kexel later committed suicide in a West German prison and Hepp had “vanished” until his arrest last week.