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French police vexed by Mideast political violence in Paris

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In the last few days, Paris has been seized by a new wave of Mideast-related political violence that has left French police feeling both angry and frustrated.

On the morning of July 21, an unidentified assassin, carrying a pistol equipped with a silencer, walked into the Paris offices of the Arab political magazine Arab Renaissance, and shot its managing editor, Salah Bitar.

Mr. Bitar was a former prime minister of the United Arab Republic, when it included Egypt and Syria, and had been one of the founders of Syria's Baath Party. He had been living in Paris since being forced into exile in 1966, and was considered a likely candidate to lead a "national front" coalition against Syrian President Hafez Assad.

What has bothered French police even more than Mr. bitar's murder is the information that has now surfaced concerning the assassination attempt July 18 against former Iranian Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar. The incident apparently involved both Iranian revolutionaries and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

A five-man commando group, armed with silencer-equipped pistols, shot three policemen outside the apartment where Mr. Bakhtiar was staying. One policeman was killed, two others were wounded. A neighbor was killed. After the terrorists tried unsuccessfully to shoot their way into Mr. Bakhtiar's apartment they gave up and tried to escape from the building.

A policeman standing guard in the street below, was able to hold three of the gunmen at bay until police reinforcements arrived. The other two were picked up in a police roundup the next day. One had been hiding out in an apartment only one door away from the building where famed terrorist leader "Carlos" hid out in 1975.

Under police questioning, all five of the terrorists said they had been sent by the Al-Fatah branch of the PLO. the leader of the group, Anis Naccache, who was traveling on a Lebanese passport, claimed that he had received orders from Yasser Arafat in person as well as from Aboud Mazen, one of the members of the Al-Fatah central committee.


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