NEW YORK (Sep. 18)
In the wake of a threat of an impending terrorist attack against the German Jewish community, the World Jewish Congress has issued an alert to its offices around the world to be on guard against potential terrorist acts.
The threat that the Abu Nidal terrorist organization would attack in Germany included a specific day — Sept. 25 — and a specific target — Ignatz Bubis, the head of the German Jewish community, according to Elan Steinberg, WJC executive director.
Steinberg said WJC was alerted last Friday by both Israeli and German authorities about the threat in Germany.
“The German Jewish leadership from Bubis on down was made aware of what the German government officials described as concrete threats,” Steinberg said.
“The nature of the threat is such that there was even an indication of a specific date Sept. 25,” Steinberg said.
“While the specific information related to Germany, it did not necessarily mean that other targets in other places were exempt,” he added.
As result, he said, “we sent an urgent fax to all WJC regional offices around the world alerting them to the information, and providing whatever details we had to take whatever precautions they could.”
Steinberg said the attacks in Germany were being traced to the so-called Abu Nidal group.
Abu Nidal is the nomme de guerre of Sabri al-Banna, a rejectionist Palestinian whose group has been accused of masterminding various murderous attacks, such as those on the Vienna and Rome airports in 1985 and on an Istanbul synagogue in 1986.
ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIERS POSTED
The warning in Germany was extended to Jewish leaders, businesses and community centers, and has prompted stepped up security at Jewish sites around the country.
German authorities posted armored personnel carriers at Jewish and Israeli institutions in Bonn and Berlin. For over a week, police in bulletproof vests carrying automatic weapons have been posted along the Kurfurstendamm, Berlin’s main shopping boulevard, where Jewish-owned businesses are located.
Police are also guarding Berlin’s Oranienstrasse synagogue, which was recently re-opened after extensive renovations. The synagogue was heavily damaged on Kristallnacht, Nov. 9-10, 1938, when the Nazis went on a rampage against Jewish institutions.
In Bonn, police closed off the streets on which the Israeli Embassy and Jewish community center are located.
Steinberg said there were no known threats to Jewish communities elsewhere but that precautions are being taken.
“Even in our discussions with various officials in various countries, including the United States, we were not made aware of any specific Abu Nidal threats to any institutions throughout the world, but it could not be discounted,” Steinberg said.
Maram Stern, a former German Jew who now heads the WJC office in Brussels, said that German officials had publicized the threat from the Abu Nidal group about three weeks ago.
Stern, who is regularly in touch with Bubis, said that the threat to Bubis and the German Jewish community was “a major headline” in the German media on Saturday.
In a telephone interview Sunday from Brussels, Stern said that Bubis had been aware of the general threat but was surprised by its personal element.
Bubis, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, is a well-known figure in Germany and has been outspoken against the neo-Nazi danger to the Jews in Germany.
He was even touted as a possible presidential candidate, but said he was not interested in the position.
The latest threats come just months after reports that Abu Nidal had smuggled four activists into Germany to carry out attacks against Israeli targets there.
Last week, German officials arrested seven men in Berlin said to be of Arab origin, but released them the following day because of insufficient evidence against them.