NEW YORK (Jul. 30)
Alberto Fujimori, Peru’s new president who was inaugurated Saturday, has inherited a nightmare of terrorism along with an economic crisis.
It is all the more disturbing because at least three members of the notorious Abu Nidal terrorist gang who had been in custody are again at large in the country.
Two years ago, they targeted Jacobo (Yaacov) Hasson, leader of Peru’s Jewish community, and a host of Jewish, Israeli and American institutions.
The terrorists were arrested in July 1988, but a judge freed them earlier this year. Then last Tuesday, Hasson was machine-gunned by unknown assailants, taking seven bullets in his hand. Doctors said he would regain 90 percent of its use.
Apparently the authorities fear he is in danger of a new attack because they have moved him to a military hospital where security is tighter.
The attack on Hasson and a reported attack on a Jewish factory were just two of several assaults and killings that preceded Fujimori’s inauguration.
Though Peruvians in general have been victimized, Jews in Lima and abroad are especially concerned, and are puzzled why a judge released known terrorists from prison.
According to Rabbi Morton Rosenthal, director of the Latin Affairs Department of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, the judge ruled that the three committed no crime in Peru, even though plans and weapons were found in their possession.
FREE ON BAIL
Rosenthal said he was told they are free on bail in Lima, without constraints, while waiting for sanctuary in another country.
One of the terrorists is Hocine, or Hussein, Bouzidi, 38, allegedly a party to the November 1985 hijacking of an Egyptair jet to Malta in which an Israeli woman was killed.
He carries Algerian identification papers and Interpol reportedly has a file on him.
Bouzidi is also linked to the simultaneous attacks on the E1 Al counters at the Rome and Vienna airports in December 1985, in which 16 persons were killed.
But neither Austria nor Italy has requested his extradition, according to spokespersons at their Washington embassies.
B’nai B’rith International President Seymour Reich condemned the attack on Hasson.
“We are especially distressed at the possibility that your attackers may have been in police custody and released prior to the attempt on your life,” he wrote in a message to the Jewish leader.
Another leader of the Lima Jewish community, Eduardo Bigio, said that although the attack on Hasson may have been perpetrated by Peruvian terrorists, the “intellectual origin” of the deed probably comes from farther away.
“We’re shocked and disappointed that the government of Peru or its court system would let these individuals go, would seemingly whitewash these individuals or their actions,” Rosenthal said.
“It seems that the courts and perhaps the government were yielding to pressures,” he said.