Salameh linked to Olympic terrorist

March 05, 1993|By Newsday

NEW YORK -- Mohammed A. Salameh, the first suspect arrested in the bombing that shook New York City, emerged from the obscurity of a quiet Jersey City, N.J., neighborhood trailing links to one of the world's most-hated terrorist organizations.

Before his arraignment last night the 25-year-old, curly-haired Mr. Salameh acted more like the scion of a powerful family than like the humble resident of a Jersey City apartment building filled with Egyptian taxi drivers.

Mr. Salameh, who bears the same Palestinian name as Ali Hassan Salameh, the late Arab terrorist blamed for masterminding the 1972 Olympics massacre in Munich, insisted that his attorney try to get him out on bail. Mr. Salameh said that financial guarantors would put up $5 million for his release.

The claim contrasted with the shabby third-floor mosque on Jersey City's main shopping strip where Mr. Salameh, a wiry, bearded young man described by federal officials as a Jordanian native, prayed and listened to the preaching of Omar Abdel-Rahman, an extremist Muslim leader.

Investigators are checking whether Mr. Salameh is related to Ali Hassan Salameh, the so-called "Red Prince" who was the late chief of operations for the Arab terrorist group Black September. He was assassinated by the Mossad, the Israeli secret service unit, in a January 1979 car bombing in Beirut, Lebanon.

"With that name, there should be little doubt that he [the bombing suspect] is a relative of Ali Hassan Salameh," said David Halevy, co-author of "Inside the PLO: Covert Units, Secret Funds, and the War Against Israel and the United States."

"All of the Salamehs come from the same area and are inter-related," he said.

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