There is not much difference between the attacks in Brussels this week and a similar one carried out by Palestinian terrorists in 1979 - except that Israeli security prevented a much larger catastrophe in 1979.
Israeli security agents on hand for the arrival of an El Al flight with 160 passengers opened fire on four Palestinian terrorists here today and prevented what could have been a major bloodbath.JTA added some color that also could have been written this year:
The Israelis shot, then seized one heavily armed terrorist and captured a second. Belgian police joined the shootout but were unable to find another man and woman said to be among the attackers.
The terrorists, armed with fragmentation grenades and Soviet-made submachine gun, hurled two light hand grenades into the crowded terminal from a balcony, wounding what officials said was "about a dozen persons." none seriously. The victims, all Belgians, were taken to hospitals in Brussels, 10 miles from the airport.
Belgian police joined the attack on the terrorists but Defense Minister Paul vanden Boeynants-who rushed to the airport as soon as he heard of the attack-said. "The first shots at the terrorists were fired by El Al security agents who happened to be there."
While police said one or two other terrorists were believed to have escaped, most eyewitnesses mentioned two, one of them a woman.
Authorities said the captured terrorists carried bogus Lebanese passports, and said the El Al plane was their target. They reportedly declared they were from a new group of the Palestine Liberation Organization called "Black March"-for the month when the Egyptian-Israeli treaty was signed.
Belgian state radio said the terrorists belonged to the Marxist radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group that broke away from the PLO in 1974.
In Beirut, the PLO disclaimed any knowledge of the attack.
Last month the PLO spoke of reviving the Black September terrorist group to punish Egypt and Israel for signing the peace treaty. The Black September group carried out the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Airport authorities said the usual El Al security precaution of parking its planes a good distance from the terminal foiled the apparent intent to seize the aircraft. El Al planes are considered a choice target by Palestinian terrorists.
Police closed the roads leading to the airport for three hours, stranding hundreds of persons on Easter Monday, a holiday in Belgium.
Police then raided the Brussels residences of well-known PLO sympathizers, informed sources said.
In Washington, the State Department condemned the terrorist attack but refrained from condemning the PLO.And:
Nathan Perlmutter, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, sent a telegram to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance saying: “It is ironic and instructive that at a time when a State Department visa has been granted to Shafik AI-Hout, PLO representative in Lebanon, to lecture at U.S. universities, and PLO supporters are stressing the ‘moderate’ role of this murderous group, PLO assassins attack innocent passengers in the Brussels airport lounge. We respectfully request reconsideration of your position on AI-Hout.”
The PLO representative in Brussels Naim Khader, said on a Belgian radio interview last night that his organization had nothing to do with the attack. “We had everything to lose and nothing to gain from this senseless attack against Belgian citizens,” Khader said. He charged that the attack was “an Israeli provocation.”
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