Former French Intelligence Chief Alleged to Have Made Secret Pact With Palestinian Terrorists Behind 1982 Kosher Restaurant Massacre
Police and emergency services arriving at the Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant in Paris following the Aug, 1982 terrorist attack. Photo: Reuters/Frederic Fabre.
As Jews in France and around the world on Friday marked the 37th anniversary of a deadly terrorist attack on a kosher restaurant in Paris, one of the country’s news outlets revealed that the former chief of French intelligence entered into a secret pact with the Palestinian group behind the massacre.
Six people were murdered and 22 wounded on Aug. 9, 1982, when terrorists from the radical Abu Nidal Organization armed with machine guns opened fire on diners at “Chez Jo Goldenberg” on the rue des Rosiers during the restaurant’s busy lunchtime service. After exploding a grenade as they made their escape, the terrorists quickly disappeared into the streets of the Marais, the old Jewish quarter of Paris where the restaurant was located.
On Friday, the newspaper Le Parisien reported that the former head of French intelligence, Yves Bonnet, had admitted to making a secret pact with the terrorists, guaranteeing Abu Nidal operatives free movement within France in exchange for a promise of no further attacks on French soil.
According to Le Parisien, Bonnet made his confession in January this year to the magistrate in charge of investigating the Jo Goldenberg attack, for which no person has yet been convicted.
“We made a kind of verbal deal in which I said, ‘I don’t want any more attacks on French soil and in return I’ll let you come to France and I guarantee nothing will happen to you,’” the paper quoted Bonnet as having said.
The pact was allegedly reached during a clandestine meeting shortly after the attack between Bonnet and representatives of the Abu Nidal group — not the terrorists who executed the massacre, he claimed, but individuals he described as their “stooges.”
According to Bonnet, the pact “worked,” insofar as there were no attacks on French soil “from late ’83, ’84 and until the end of 1985,” he said. Among the concessions made during that time by the DST, the French intelligence service, was the permission for two Abu Nidal terrorists to visit one of their comrades in a French prison.
Le Parisien added that it had partially confirmed Bonnet’s claim of a pact with Abu Nidal with two former DST officials, Jean-François Clair and Louis Caprioli. The paper said it had been told by Clair that he did “not deny that there were contacts with Abu Nidal, to do so would be lying.”
Also in the loop, the paper said, was Gilles Menage, the chief of staff to the then President of France, François Mitterrand — although the official position was that the Élysée Palace “did not know anything” about the contacts with Abu Nidal, a renegade Palestinian faction that was armed and funded by Iraq at the time of the rue des Rosiers attack. Abu Nidal’s long list of atrocities also included the Sept. 1986 shooting at the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul, Turkey, that killed 22 worshippers, and the December 1985 simultaneous attacks on US and Israeli airport counters in Rome and Vienna, which killed 18 people and injured 111.
Yohann Taïeb, the president of the support committee representing victims’ families, said that, if confirmed, Bonnet’s admission was “shameful”. He called on French President Emmanuel Macron to “declassify documents and take decisions about eventual legal proceedings”.
Avi Bitton, a lawyer for the families, told Le Parisien: “We need a parliamentary inquiry not just on the rue des Rosiers attack but to establish if such secret pacts were sealed with other terrorist organizations.”
Friday’s revelations about the possible collusion between Abu Nidal and French intelligence came on top of another significant, if frustrating, development in the rue des Rosiers investigation earlier this year. In May, Jordan’s highest court rejected a French appeal for the extradition of one of the suspected terrorists, 57-year-old Nizar Tawfiq Mussa Hamada.
Hamada was not formally identified until 2014, when two anonymous informants associated with Abu Nidal’s group supplied the French authorities with critical information about the terrorists’ identities. In 2015, France’s top magistrate tasked with combating terrorism, Marc Trévidic, issued arrest warrants for several suspects, including Hamada and fellow Jordanian citizen Souhair Mouhamed Hassan Khalid al-Abassi — aka Amjad Atta — reputedly the mastermind behind the attack.