High-ranking member of Palestinian militant group, who went by name of Amjad Atta, held over lethal raid on Chez Jo Goldenberg in which six died
The suspected chief orchestrator of the attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris in 1982, which left six people dead and 22 injured, has been arrested in Jordan and bailed.
Official sources said Zuhair Mohamad Hassan Khalid al-Abassi, AKA Amjad Atta, was arrested on 1 June under an international arrest warrant.
“A court imposed a travel ban pending a decision on whether he will be extradited,” an official source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another source, in the security services, said the 62-year-old suspect was freed on bail.
“He was released on bail pending the court’s decision,” the security source said, adding: “The case is still before the courts.”
Abassi was one of three men for whom France issued an international arrest warrant earlier this year. Overall, between three and five men are thought to have taken part in the attack, which was blamed on the Abu Nidal Organisation, a Palestinian militant group.
The other two main suspects in the 1982 attack have been named as Mahmoud Khader Abed Adra, AKA Hicham Harb, who lives in Ramallah in the West Bank, and Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed, AKA Souhail Othman, a resident of Norway.
The Abu Nidal Organisation, officially known as the Fatah-Revolutionary Council, was considered one of the most ruthless of the Palestinian militant groups. Amjad Atta is thought to have been the number three in the group’s “special operations committee”.
The attack on the Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant, a busy spot in the Marais district, began around midday on 9 August 1982 when a grenade was thrown into the dining room.
Two men then entered the restaurant, which had around 50 customers inside, and opened fire with WZ-63 Polish-made machine guns. They also shot at passers-by as they escaped down the street. The whole incident lasted only a few minutes.
The investigation has made little progress over the years. One of the few pieces of evidence was one of the guns, found in Bois de Boulogne park on the western edge of Paris shortly after the attack.
Two years prior to the Goldenberg attack, a bomb exploded outside a Paris synagogue, killing four and wounding around 20. More than thirty years later, jihadi gunmen took hostages at a Jewish supermarket and killed four – part of the Charlie Hebdo attacks that left 17 dead in total.