University Instructor in Canada Arrested for 1980 Paris Synagouge Bombing
November 14, 2008
Ottawa university instructor arrested in 1980 blast at Paris synagogue
He is to appear in an Ottawa court on Friday. The RCMP would not confirm the identity of the person they arrested, but a justice department official confirmed it to be Mr. Diab. Two French judges reportedly issued an international arrest warrant against Mr. Diab earlier this month, believed to be the first such international warrant for terrorism ever executed in Canada.
The Oct. 3, 1980, bombing of central Paris' Copernic Road synagogue was triggered by high explosives planted in the saddlebags of a parked motorcycle outside the building. The blast killed three Frenchmen and a young Israeli woman. Hundreds of worshippers gathered inside the synagogue for a Sabbath service were to emerge minutes later. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Special Operations was blamed.
As one of the first contemporary terrorist strikes on a synagogue outside the Middle East, the blast trigged the fortification of Jewish community sites across Europe and North America. France's Le Figaro newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, reported last fall that French authorities suspect Mr. Diab was the leader of the small commando team responsible for the attack and had asked Canada for assistance with their investigation.
The French magazine L'Express reported on Thursday that a team of French police, magistrates and intelligence officers had been in Canada working on the case and would try to arrange Mr. Diab's extradition to France. The French arrest warrant executed on Thursday accuses him of making and planting the bomb, according to the Reuters news agency.
Soon after details of the French authorities' interest in him were reported in October of last year, Mr. Diab issued a statement to the Citizen through his lawyer, stating he had no involvement in the bombing, no criminal record and was never a member of the Palestinian group or known anyone associated with the group. Nor, he said, has he been active with any other militant organizations.
Though he visited a cousin in Paris roughly a year or two after the explosion, he only learned of the bombing when a Le Figaro reporter approached him last fall at the University of Ottawa, where he is a part-time sociology and anthropology instructor teaching one bachelor of arts-level class. Married with two grown children from a previous marriage, his lawyer said he also teaches part-time at Carleton University, where the Citizen unsuccessfully attempted to interview him last November following one of his classes.