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Israeli Authorities Arrest Couple Long Wanted in U.S. for Bombings

March 26, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel may finally comply with a longstanding U.S. request for the extradition of Rochelle and Robert Manning, an American Jewish couple suspected in the mailbomb killing of an employee of a Los Angeles computer firm.

The Mannings, who are active in Kach, the anti-Arab movement founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, were arrested Sunday at their home in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba and will be extradited soon to the United States, Israel Radio reported.

The couple is wanted for the killing of Patricia Wilkerson, a secretary for Prowest Computer Corp. of Los Angeles. Wilkerson was killed in July 1980 when she plugged in a device that had been described as a new invention but was actually a bomb.

No motive was given for the bombing at the time. But it was reported here Monday that the company was in competition with the firm with which Rochelle Manning was then associated.

The couple has also been linked to the unsolved murder case of Arab-American activist Alex Odeh, the regional head of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee who was killed in October 1985 when a bomb exploded in the group’s Santa Ana, Calif., office.

The Mannings have also been tied to the bombings of suspected Nazi war criminals in New Jersey and New York.

One of the men, Tscherim Soobzokov, died of his wounds. The other, Elmars Sprogis, an alleged wartime police chief in Latvia, escaped injury when a bomb exploded outside his house in Brentwood, N.Y. Another person was injured.

In Washington, however, the State Department said Monday that the United States was seeking the Mannings’ extradition in connection with Wilkerson’s death. Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said the United States was working closely with Israel on the case.


Michael Ahern, assistant inspector at the Los Angeles division of the U.S. Postal Service, said the extradition request had been made in July 1980. The request “is for the homicide of Wilkerson,” Ahern said in a telephone interview.

The Israeli Justice Ministry was reported to be examining the extradition request, based on new evidence. The Mannings were due for a court hearing later this week over whether Israel could retain them in custody.

The Kach movement said it would try to block the extradition.

Israel normally resists extraditing Jews for criminal activity abroad. But the Mannings’ alleged offenses occurred before they became citizens of Israel.

Meanwhile, the Kach movement has announced the election of a new chairman to replace Kahane, who was assassinated in New York last Nov. 5.

He is Avraham Toledano, a 33-year-old engineer from Kiryat Arba who says he could never fill Kahane’s shoes but will be an organizer for the movement.

(Contributing to this report were JTA correspondent Howard Rosenberg in Washington and staff writer Susan Birnbaum in New York.)

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