More suspects being sought in N.Y.C. bombing Salameh has links to other terrorists

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 a man often viewed as the Ayatollah Khomeini of Egypt.

He is Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, an extremist Muslim religious leader now facing deportation back to Egypt as a suspected terrorist.

nvestigators 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.

Gloria Manderville, a teacher who is co-chairwoman of the block association on Kensington Avenue where Mr. Salameh has lived for the past year, remembered the young man only for his thick accent and ordinary demeanor and echoed the shock of others in the neighborhood.

"He didn't look like a maniac," she said. "He looked like a very ordinary person, and he certainly didn't look like somebody who would blow up the World Trade Center."

Mr. Salameh used a second address on the New York driver's license he used to rent a yellow van suspected of carrying the bomb. It is the same address that was "borrowed" three years ago by El Sayyid Nosair, who was accused of killing Rabbi Meir Kahane.

Nosair was acquitted of the Kahane murder but is in prison after conviction on lesser, related charges.

A man identified in news reports as a relative of Nosair was arrested at his apartment in Brooklyn yesterday after he allegedly hit an FBI agent conducting a search related to Mr. Salameh's arrest. He faced arraignment today on a charge of obstructing justice.

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