Thursday, November 13, 2014

13-Nov-14: 34 years later, the Rue Copernic terrorist-bomber may get his day in court

[Image Source]
Back in May 2014, we received an email from Association française des Victimes du Terrorisme, the French Association of Victims of Terror (website here), an active group with whom we have been in contact over the past decade. This letter concerned their campaign in support of the victims of a terror attack carried out in Paris no less than 34 years ago.

Here's our translation into English:
On October 3, 1980, a bomb concealed in the saddlebags of a motor-cycle exploded outside the synagogue on Rue Copernic in Paris at 6.37 pm, French time. It was a Friday evening, just before the onset of the Jewish Sabbath. The synagogue was packed with some 320 people inside. The explosion killed four people. Forty-six others were injured.
The criminal investigation showed that, fortunately, the bomb had exploded earlier than planned. Had it gone off when it was supposed to, the number of victims would have been much higher.
Although the perpetrators have never been brought to trial to this day, the French criminal investigation never ceased and several well-known French judges have led the case at various times.
Soon after the investigation began, it became evident that the perpetrator had left several clues including his passport number and a hand-written note. The suspect's name, Hassan Diab, appears 2,128 times in 281 documents from the investigation.
On November 5, 2008, a French magistrate Marc Trevidic, authorized the issue of an arrest warrant against a Canadian citizen, Hassan Diab, a professor of sociology at the University of Ottawa. France issued an official request to the Canadian authorities on December 12, 2008, seeking the extradition of Hassan Diab. They received a positive response from the Canadians. However, Hassan Diab has taken advantage of all the available legal means to delay the carrying out of the procedure. On October 2, 2013, the French Association of Victims of Terrorism ( held a press conference inside the synagogue of Rue Copernic synagogue, in order to demonstrate to the authorities and the public that the victims of the act of terror were still pursuing their rights.
The terror attack on the Rue Copernic synagogue took place not only on Sabbath eve, but also at the onset of one of Jewish tradition's most festive days, Simchat Torah. The bomb included 10 kilograms of Semtex explosives. The fact that all the dead victims were passers-by prompted the prime minister of the day, Raymond Barre, to call the bombing “a heinous act against Jews in a synagogue that struck four innocent Frenchmen crossing the street”. Wikipedia says it was
a comment which seemed to imply that the synagogue's members were neither innocent nor truly French. 
His statement fits with what we hear often in connection with terror: that the victims were somehow caught in the crossfire, the wrong place at the wrong time and innocent of any blame.

But the reality is that innocent people are always the target of terror. Anonymous, chance victimhood is a constant at the heart of the terrorists' strategy.

While suspicion initially fell on "neo-Nazis", the French police eventually shifted their suspicions onto a still-functioning, Marxist-Leninist terror group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, founded in 1953 by George Habash. It's still functioning today, though its ideological platform (apart from the nationalistic zeal and the race-based hatred) has become passé and mostly irrelevant; it remains the second-largest (behind Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah) faction in the PLO and a proscribed terrorist organization under the laws of the United States, Canada and the European Union.

French police and the immediate aftermath of the
1980 Rue Copernic assault [Image Source]
Which brings us back to Hassan Diab.

Earlier today, Canada's Supreme Court ruled against a request by Diab to hear his appeal against an order for him to be extradicted to France and to be questioned by the authorities there about his role in the 1980 terrorist attack. According to a Canadian Press report today,
The Canadian government said Diab's request for a Supreme Court hearing raised no issue of public importance and should be dismissed... Diab is now subject to "immediate removal," said Clarissa Lamb, a spokeswoman for Justice Minister Peter MacKay. Under the Extradition Act, Canada has 45 days to send Diab to France... The Justice Department's international assistance group is in discussions with the French to ensure Diab's removal takes place within the deadline, Lamb added. At this point, Diab is presumed to be innocent, the French Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement. In France, he will be heard by an investigating judge in an open judicial inquiry regarding the attack, an embassy spokesman said... Diab has garnered the backing of prominent people including former federal solicitor general Warren Allmand, linguistics professor and activist Noam Chomsky, and Sharry Aiken, associate dean of law at Queen's University... The RCMP arrested Diab, a Canadian of Lebanese descent, in November 2008 in response to a request by France."
The plaque inside the synagogue
recalls the victims' names [Image Source]
The French terror victims group wrote us again. Today they say (our translation) that they
welcome the court's decision and the new impetus that it will give to the still-ongoing French investigation. The AfVT is mobilizing alongside the victim families to help them obtain justice 34 years after the event. On October 3, 1980, the Rue Copernic bombing killed four people: Jean-Michel Barbe, Philippe Bouissou, Hilario Lopez Fernandez and Aliza Shagrir. 46 other people were injured and at least 250 more suffered damage to their property.
It's gratifying to see that those murdered by the person or persons who planted the bomb are remembered, not only in the aggregate but one by one, by name. And whether or not Hassan Diab is eventually convicted, it's encouraging that, though they do so slowly, the wheels of justice do still grind, at least in France and Canada.

There's a powerful lesson in this to those who expect - as Arafat did in his 1974 speech to the UN that we quoted yesterday - that today's terrorist is the following decade's hero. Sometimes, the remembrance of acts of terror continues for decades - and not only by the victims.

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