Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Federal Agents Studying Similarities Between Explosion in Synagogue and Bombing of Amitay’s Home

August 5, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Federal agents investigating last week’s explosion which demolished a Chattanooga, Tenn. synagogue are studying similarities between that explosion and the previous bombing of the Maryland home of Morris Amitay, executive director of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, to determine if the two explosions are linked.

“We are not discounting the possibility, because of similarities, that there is a connection between the two bombings,” Dick Garner, the resident agent in charge of the investigation by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau of the Treasury Department, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a phone interview today.

Garner stated he “can’t officially say” that the synagogue explosion was caused by a bomb until the laboratory tests being conducted in Washington confirm that suspicion. He affirmed, however, “We’re following up a bunch of leads.”

A key similarity between the two explosions is that 400 feet of electric cord was found leading from the Amitay house, and wires were found leading from the synagogue to a motel 100 yards away. “The wires were apparently used for the energy source for the detonations (of the bomb and, as yet, unconfirmed bomb),” Chattanooga Commissioner of Police Gene Roberts told the JTA in a phone interview today.


While waiting for the lab results, Garner and his agents, the FBI, and local police are pursuing local leads. “We believe people at the motel observed someone,” Garner said adding that there is “evidence of a vehicle” having been in the area for “several days.”

Amitay, a leading Washington advocate for the Israeli point of view, and his family were uninjured in the blast that damaged their home while they were asleep. Congregants at the small Orthodox synagogue in Chattanooga had finished Friday evening Shabat services and had left the building less than an hour before the explosion, which virtually leveled it, occurred.

Recommended from JTA