JERUSALEM (May. 6)
A blind terrorist who lost his sight several years ago when a bomb he was making exploded was alleged Tuesday to be the leader of the terrorist gang held responsible for at least two murders in the Old City last month and a series of attempted murders of tourists.
The arrest of 20 suspects was announced last week. The leader was identified as Ala A-Din Babian, who was released from prison 12 months ago in the controversial exchange of 1,150 convicted terrorists for three Israeli soldier held hostage in Lebanon by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a pro-Syrian group headed by Ahmed Jibril.
After he was blinded, Babian was arrested for illegal possession of explosives but subsequently released. He was arrested again for possession of arms and membership in a terrorist organization and released last May in the prisoner exchange.
Two other terrorists apprehended last week were also freed in the prisoner exchange. One of them, Ali Miselmani, is believed to have been involved in the murder last month of Paul Appelby, a British tourist who was gunned down in the Old City. He may also have been the killer of a Jewish businesswoman, Zehavia Ben-Ovadia, who was found shot to death in her office in the Old City on April 13, the authorities said.
Miselmani and another suspect, Mohammad Al-Hatib, are said to be members of the dissident group of the Palestine Liberation Organization headed by Abu Moussa. All of the terrorists live in East Jerusalem and vicinity.