Australia reopens probe of 1982 anti-Israel bombings
1982 bombing of the Israeli consulate in Sydney
SYDNEY — Australian police Sunday reopened inquiries into the 1982 bombing of the Israeli consulate in Sydney and a Jewish club, reportedly after interviewing an extremist jailed over a blast on a Pan Am flight that year.
No one was killed but two people were injured in the attacks on the consulate and the Jewish Hakoah sports club in Bondi on December 23, 1982 -- crimes that have gone unsolved for almost 30 years.
But police reopened the case Sunday, publishing photographs of two male suspects, after a review of the Sydney bombings reportedly led them to convicted extremist Mohammed Rashed, in jail for a blast on Pan Am flight 830.
A Japanese teenager died and 15 others were wounded when a bomb exploded on the flight from Tokyo to Honolulu on August 11, 1982.
"This review, and a range of enquiries here and overseas, were able to establish that there were sufficient grounds to warrant a formal re-investigation into the bombings upon the Israeli consulate and Hakoah Club in 1982," said assistant commissioner Peter Dein, head of the counter-terrorism squad.
"It was luck more than anything else that no one was killed in these bombings, and while it is almost 30 years ago we know there are people out there living with the knowledge or guilt of these crimes."
Dein refused to confirm the link to Rashed but several media reports citing police sources close to the case said the Jordanian-born explosives expert had been interviewed by officers in the US and was key to the case being reopened.
Rashed was part of an Iraq-based pro-Palestinian group, 15 May, that targeted US and Israeli interests in the 1980s, and he received leniency in his Pan Am sentence for cooperating with international authorities as an informant.
Sydney police have long believed 15 May, named for the date of the first Arab-Israeli war, was linked to the Hakoah club and consulate bombings.
Dein said the investigation would apply "new technologies and investigative procedures to an historical crime".
Two people, including a Hungarian holocaust survivor, were wounded when a bomb went off in a stairwell of the Israeli consulate in central Sydney at 2:00 pm on December 23, 1982.
The second bomb, detonated about five hours later in the Hakoah Club's carpark, failed to explode properly and did not injure anyone, but there was extensive damage to the car it was in and two others nearby.
There were a "large number" of athletes inside the building at the time, according to police.