Terrorist Incidents against Jewish Communities and Israeli Citizens Abroad, 1968-2003
In this chronology I have attempted to list all the known terrorist attacks against Jewish…
In this chronology I have attempted to list all the known terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions and individuals, outside Israel since 1968, the year when Palestinian terrorists first began their campaigns beyond the Middle East.
In doing so I have also included attacks against Israel-owned, or Israel-associated, targets or prominent individuals. This is because it has become obvious that, despite some statements to the contrary, Palestinian and Islamist terrorists generally make no distinction between the two. Neither do far right terrorists. It could be argued that Israelis were the main targets of the secular Palestinian terrorist groups, from 1968 until the 1980s, but even within this timespan, there were attacks against prominent Jewish leaders who were known to be involved in Zionist activity or fundraising for Israel. The 1973 attempted assassination of Marks & Spencer President Edward J Sieff, and the hijacking of the Air France plane to Entebbe, where Israeli and Jewish passengers were separated from the others, clearly indicates that there is no distinction in the terrorist’s mind.
I have also included some terrorist acts that targeted Israel, but which originated abroad, as they indicate a terrorism capability and intention within the originating country.
Islamist terrorists, particularly those whose organisations trace their ideological descent from the Muslim Brotherhood and the teachings of its post-war leader Sayid Qutb, have at their heart a deep-seated religious antisemitism which sees Jews as the rejecter of the Prophet who are all to be killed on the day of redemption, and also as the instigators and promoters of a worldwide conspiracy to take over the world.
Neo-Nazi terrorists in Latin America and Europe, and white supremacist terrorists influenced by the leaderless resistance ideology of Louis Beam and William Pierce, likewise make no distinction between Jews and Israelis. To their collective mind both represent either a lower species of humanity or the Zionist conspiracy to rule the world. Far left terrorists similarly have made no distinction.
The victims included in the chronology are therefore Jewish and Israeli institutions, Israeli officials, Jewish community leaders and members. Purely criminal attacks, where no antisemitic motive was apparent or discerned, have been excluded.
The chronology also includes aborted attempts, but there may have been others which have not come to public notice. It is possible that interdiction at some midway point in the planning stages may have aborted some terrorist attacks. Statements by the Director General of the British Security Service, Assistant Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police Service, the Director of the Israel General Security Service and others have been made during the past twelve months in which they have stated that attacks may have been aborted as a consequence of interdiction or of defensive operations by law enforcement and other agencies. Statements made following arrests in several countries have also indicated that terrorist plots in advanced stages against Jewish targets have been foiled, eg the al-Tawhid plot in Germany during the spring of 2003, and the May 2002 arrests in Morocco of al-Qaeda-affiliated Saudi nationals, who were planning to attack members of the Casablanca Jewish community.
Costa Rica 1
El Salvador 1
South Africa 3
Aborted attempt/foiled plot 102
Hand grenades 8
Molotov cocktails 10
Parcel/letter bomb 22
Petrol bomb 2
Other bombs 162
19th of April Movement (M-19) 2
Abu Nidal Organisation/Black Lebanon/Black September 26
Action Directe 4
Anti-Zionist Autonomy 1
Arab Commando Group 1
Arab Nationalist Youth for the Liberation of Palestine (ANYLP) 1
Arab Organisation of May 15 (Abu Ibrahim Group) 13
Armed Islamic Group (GIA) (Algeria) 2
Armed People’s Units 1
Armed Propaganda Union Anti-Camp David Front 1
Aryan Nations 1
Autonomous Collective for Intervention Against Zionist Presence in France and Against the Israel-Egyptian Peace Treaty 1
Baader-Meinhof Group 2
Black Star Group 1
Christian anti-Zionist Group 1
Commando Anticommunista Mendoza 1
Commando for a Free Palestine 1
Communist Armed Group 1
Copernic Two 1
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) 1
Deutsche Aktions Gruppen 1
Egyptian Awakening Group 1
Egyptian Revolution Faction 2
Ejercito Revolucionario Del Pueblo (Popular Revolutionary Army) 2
Free Lebanon of Foreigners Organisation 1
French National Liberation 1
Groupe Action Jeunesse 1
Heroes of Palestine 1
International Solidarity 1
International Workers Organisation (Portugal) 1
Islamic Jihad 5
Islamic Revenge Organisation 1
Jama’ah al-Islamiyah 1
January 15 Organisation 1
Kameradenschaft Sud 1
League of French Combatants Against Jewish Conquest 1
Lebanese Armed Revolution Faction (LARF) 3
Lebanese Shiite Group 1
Lone Arabs or Palestinians 25
Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front 1
National European Facists (FNE) 3
National Front of Palestine Students 1
National Liberation Army (ELN) Ernesto Che Guevara Nucleus in Solidarity with the Palestinian People 1
No claim for responsibility/Unknown 171
Organisation for the Defence of Europe 1
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) 1
Palestinian Party in Mexico 1
Partisans of God (Anar al Allah) 1
People’s League for Free Palestine 1
Persevering Workers of Islam 1
PLO/ Fatah/ Force 17/Abu Musa/Fatah Black September 6
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) 9
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) 31
Popular Struggle Front terrorists, (Samir Ghawsha) 2
Red Brigades 1
Revolution of Christians Against the Jewish Enemy 1
Revolutionary Cells 1
Revolutionary Perspective Group 1
Russian National Unity Group 1
Saiqa/Eagles of the Palestinian Revolution 7
Salafiya Jihadiya 1
Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia 1
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) 3
Sons of the Land 1
Spanish Nationalist Socialist Party 1
Tel el-Z’Ater 1
The Call of Jesus Christ 1
The Order 1
Toffah Group 1
Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) 1
Turkish Hizbollah 1
Turkish Liberation Army 1
Wadi Haddad (split from PFLP) 1
World Church of the Creator 2
Young Muslims Organisation 1
No of incidents per year
It might be argued that any analysis of the list of incidents is superfluous given the high state of alert on Jewish premises throughout the world and the fact that law enforcement and security agencies now devote the majority of their efforts to thwarting terrorism. Additionally it could also be argued that the primary focus of the ‘new’ terrorism of the Islamist Jihadis and the far right is against the US and its allies such as the UK and Israel anyway. This is in contradistinction with the Palestinian secular groups’ terrorism which predominantly was anti-Israel. Therefore it would be more profitable to concentrate resources and analysis on prevention of terrorist acts from whatever source.
This however would be to miss the point. There is an apparent evolving modus operandi, which bears careful study in order to spot likely future attacks, pinpoint likely soft targets and most importantly determine the political, religious and cultural milieu from which terrorism develops. There is also abundant evidence that terrorist groups co-operate and that this co-operation cuts across ideological and religious boundaries. Islamists are known to have sought contact with organised crime and with the far right, as have the Iranians and their surrogates in years past, and close analysis of one group’s evolving anti-Jewish ideology shows it to be frequently influenced by that of another group. This might lead to terrorism by proxy or joint operations, as has happened in the past.
Analysis by country, by group or by modus operandi might also be unproductive in that it might be misleading: the groups active in the 1970s are no longer active or have renounced terrorism now, or countries which suffered a high incidence of terrorist acts in the past are those which have now tightened their security and afford a higher degree of protection to Jewish and Israeli targets.
However by eliminating those countries which previously were targeted and which now have better security arrangements provides a clearer perspective on those remaining. If these contain Jewish communities, and their governments provide a low level of protective cover, they might become future targets. Nevertheless, too close a scrutiny of Islamist terrorism post September 11 could easily lead government agencies to overlook growing threats from other areas. Such was nearly the case in Germany this September when the German authorities admitted they had dropped their guard as far as neo-Nazi terrorism was concerned.
What does seem particularly worthwhile however is to note new tendencies and to factor them into security planning. Thus for example the most devastating terrorist acts in recent years have been by means of car bombs or bombs delivered in bags and triggered remotely by suicide bombers. This compares with the use of firearms and letterbombs during the 1960s and 1970s. This has clear indications for security planners. Jewish institutions need to be protected against cars parking outside or ramming entrances. Likewise personnel searching should be carried out before visitors gain entry to the interiors of buildings, preferably when passing through an exterior security cordon. This would not preclude scanning incoming mail for letter or parcel bombs, nor ensuring the security of prominent figures within Jewish communities, but the trend however is clearly towards delivering unsophisticated though lethal bombs made from materials easily purchased in the open market and put together by non-specialists who easily access the know-how from the Internet or from manuals purchased on the open market.
Analysis by perpetrating groups too soon after attacks may provide a less than satisfactory analysis. Firstly, claims have sometimes been made by groups to gain publicity or to hide their real identities or affiliations. Second, it is known that groups co-operate even across ideological and religious barriers. Thirdly a claim for responsibility might hide the commissioning agency, which in some cases have been states such as Syria (eg in the case of the Nezar Hindawi plot) or Iran (eg the 1992 and 1994 attacks in Argentina). Lastly, as noted above, the groups which were the most serious threat are often no longer in existence, such as the Abu Nidal Organisation, or have foresworn terrorism, at least beyond the Israel/Gaza/West Bank theatre of operations, such as the PLO and PFLP.
What the above data does unequivocally indicate is that Jewish communities have faced an extensive terrorism threat, and that it is a continuing one.
The year by year breakdown suggests that although the mid 1980s were the period with the highest number of incidents terrorism continues to pose a problem. The figures for the past five years clearly indicate no diminution in the threat, and indeed the body count has grown as the modus operandi has changed.
It might have been suggested that the Madrid and Oslo peace accords would have resulted in the decline of Middle East-originating terrorism, but while that from Palestinian secular groups diminished, that from Islamist groups has taken its place. The renunciation of terrorism by the so-called Alliance of Palestinian Forces beyond the immediate Israel/West Bank/Gaza theatre of operations clearly led to a stop from this, the hitherto most active sector. Likewise terrorism from leftist groups declined as they themselves were destroyed by states’ forces or renounced the use of violence. Parallel to all this has been the threat which Islamist groups have come to represent. There have been no attacks by Palestinian secular groups nor leftist groups since Madrid, apart from those in London in 1994 which were by Palestinian students only loosely connected to a terrorist organisation, as they came to realise the futility of such attacks which did great harm to their cause. Islamist groups however have no such compunction. They regard themselves as being at war with the west, the USA, Israel and the Jews.
New areas of threat are also emerging. Militant environmentalists and animal rights activists have turned increasingly to terrorism in the US and the UK. Although they have not yet attacked Jewish targets there is emerging evidence that the so-called left has adopted anti-Jewish ideologies. They too may come to represent a physical rather than an ideological threat once again, as they did during the 1980s.
26 December 1968, Athens
An El Al plane about to depart for Paris was attacked by Mather Suleiman and Mahmoud Mohammed, both members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). They threw grenades and sprayed the plane with machine guns killing one and injuring two others. They were caught, tried and subsequently convicted.
23 July 1968, Rome
Members of the PFLP hijacked an El Al plane en route from Rome to Israel, only releasing the passengers after three weeks.
8 February 1969, Zurich
An El Al plane was machine-gunned by members of the PFLP as it stood on the tarmac at Kloten airport prior to departure for Tel Aviv. The pilot was killed. The El Al security guard jumped from the plane and killed one of the attackers, and the police caught the other three who were subsequently tried and convicted.
22 May 1969, Copenhagen
Three members of the PFLP were arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate former Israel Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.
18 August 1969, London
The PFLP claimed responsibility for explosions at Marks and Spencer stores in London.
18 July 1969, Copenhagen
PFLP claimed responsibility for bombs, found and dismantled, in the Israeli government tourist office.
23 August 1969, London
A hand grenade was thrown into the office of Zim Shipping, injuring one person and extensively damaging property. Responsibility was claimed by the PFLP.
23 August 1969, Izmir
Two DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) terrorists were wounded, one fatally, when bombs they intended to use against the Israel commercial pavilion at a trade fair in Izmir, Turkey exploded prematurely.
23 August 1969, Tehran
An explosion in the Jewish school in Tehran caused damage but no casualties. No claim for responsibility was made.
1 September 1969, Athens
A TWA plane bound for Tel Aviv was hijacked by two PFLP terrorists. The plane was intercepted en route by Israel airforce planes but eventually landed in Damascus where the Israel-bound passengers were released.
8 September 1969, Hague, Bonn & Brussels
The Israel embassies in the Hague and Bonn, and the Brussels office of Israel’s El Al airline were attacked within minutes of each other, with bombs and grenades. Three El Al employees and a customer were injured in the Brussels attack, while none were hurt in the other two bombings. There was no claim for responsibility.
9 November 1969, Berlin
A bomb was discovered in the Jewish community centre in west Berlin and was defused before it could explode. Responsibility was claimed by the PFLP.
27 November 1969, Athens
Two PSF (Popular Struggle Front) terrorists threw grenades into the El Al office in Athens wounding fourteen persons. Both were arrested but subsequently released in the wake of the hijacking of an Olympic Airways plane (22 July 1970, Jordan).
12 December 1969, Berlin
A bomb discovered at the El Al office was dismantled before exploding. Other bombs were found near the America House and the American Officers Club. Responsibility was claimed by the Baader Meinhoff and PFLP.
21 December 1969, Athens
Three PFLP terrorists were arrested shortly before they planned to attack a TWA plane en route from Israel. They were later released following the hijack of the Olympic Airways plane (22 July 1970).
25 December 1969, Bracknell
Trefor Owen Williams, a former British army officer and subsequently a neo-Nazi activist, and Ronald Gorman Hamman, stood trial in Bracknell, Berkshire charged with attempting to blow up an Israeli plane on behalf of al-Fatah. A large amount of explosives were found in Williams’ home and he was subsequently convicted and imprisoned. The charges against Hamman were dropped when he agreed to give evidence against Williams.
18 January 1970, Beirut
A bomb outside the Khaddouri-Louise-Zilkha Jewish school in Beirut caused extensive damage but no injuries. No claim for responsibility was made.
28 January 1970, London
Fadl Muhssen Saleh was arrested at London airport as he was about to board an Israel-bound plane. A machine-gun and ammunition were found in his luggage and grenades were subsequently also found at Victoria railway station in a holdall in the left luggage office.
10 February 1970, Munich
Eight people were wounded following a machine-gun attack by PFLP terrorists on the Tel Aviv-bound El Al aircraft at Munich airport. Three Arabs were subsequently expelled from Germany.
21 February 1970, Zurich
The PFLP-GC claimed responsibility for blowing up an in-flight Swiss Air plane bound for Tel Aviv which caused the death of all forty-seven passengers and crew.
24 February 1970, Frankfurt
PFLP-GC claimed responsibility for parcel bombs posted to Israel but de-activated before they could explode.
7 March 1970, Guatemala
A hand grenade tossed into the garden of the Israel Honorary Consul’s residence exploded causing damage but not injuries. The police stated that an unidentified local pro-Arab group was responsible.
24 April 1970, Istanbul
An explosion in the El Al office caused damage but no casualties. Responsibility was claimed by the PSF.
4 May 1970, Asuncion
Two armed Palestinians broke into the office of the Israel consulate in Asuncion, Paraguay and started to shoot at the employees. An Israeli secretary was killed and a local worker injured in the attack.
6 September 1970, London
The PFLP attempted to hijack an Israel-bound El Al plane. El Al security officers killed one terrorist and wounded another (Leila Khaled). Khaled was subsequently released by British authorities.
8 September 1970, Athens
A sabotage attempt against the El Al office was thwarted when two terrorists were arrested, but later released in the wake of the Jordan 1970 Olympic Airways hijacking. It is not known to which group the terrorists belonged.
6 October 1970, London
Letter bombs addressed to the El Al office and Israel embassy were discovered and defused before they could explode. No group claimed responsibility.
15 October 1970, Berlin
Letter bombs were posted to the Israel Masada exhibition in west Berlin. No group claimed responsibility.
19 April 1971, New Jersey
A bomb outside a conservative synagogue in New Jersey caused extensive damage but no casualties. No claim for responsibility was made.
28 May 1971, Istanbul
Israel consul Efraim Elrom was assassinated in Istanbul. The Turkish Liberation Army claimed responsibility.
30 July 1971, Buenos Aires
A bomb exploded outside the office of a Jewish-owned firm causing considerable damage but no casualties. The Trotskyite Ejercito Revolucionario Del Pueblo – Popular Revolutionary Army – claimed responsibility.
30 August 1971, Rosario
A bomb exploded outside the Hebraica club in Rosario, Argentina. The police allege that it was the work of the ERP (Ejercito Revolucionario Del Pueblo – Popular Revolutionary Army) but they subsequently denied responsibility.
20 September 1971, New York
A bomb was discovered and dismantled in the Great Neck synagogue on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. No claim for responsibility was made.
28 December 1971, Austria
The PFLP-GC claimed responsibility for letter bombs sent to recipients in Israel which were defused before causing casualties.
16 August 1972, Rome
The PFLP-GC claimed responsibility for the attempt to blow up an Israel-bound El Al plane by means of a booby-trap record player brought aboard unwittingly by two British women tourists.
5 September 1972, Munich
Fatah Black September terrorists seized eleven Israeli athletes in the Olympic village in Munich, Germany. A bungled rescue attempt by West German authorities resulted in the deaths of nine of the hostages and five terrorists.
10 September 1972, Brussels
An employee of the Israel embassy was assaulted and wounded in Brussels. Fatah Black September claimed responsibility.
11 September 1972, Geneva
Israeli and Jewish organisations received five letter bombs which exploded but caused no injuries. No claim for responsibility was made.
18 September 1972, Amsterdam
Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for letter bombs posted from Amsterdam to Israel and Israeli missions around the world. The bombs were defused before they could cause damage.
19 September 1972, London
The Agricultural Counsellor at the Israel embassy was murdered by letter bomb. No claim for responsibility was made.
4 October 1972, Malaysia
Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for a wave of letter bombs posted from Malaysia to Israel and Jewish organisations in Rhodesia and New York. Several of the bombs exploded in a New York post office wounding an employee.
13 October 1972, Paris
A bomb was dismantled in the El Al office before it could explode. No claim for responsibility was made.
17 October 1972, Rotterdam
A bomb was discovered in the Zim line office in Rotterdam and dismantled before it could explode. No claim for responsibility was made.
23 October 1972, Amsterdam
The PLO representative in Holland was arrested with letter bombs in his possession. He was subsequently released by the police.
30 October 1972, Singapore
Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for a letter bomb sent to Israel from Singapore, which exploded but caused no damage.
4 November 1972, Frankfurt
A letter bomb was received by a Zionist youth organisation which exploded but caused little damage. No claim for responsibility was made.
11 November 1972, London
Letter bombs were received by Jewish organisations which exploded causing one injury. No claim for responsibility was made.
21 November 1972, Toronto
Letter bombs were received by prominent Jews which exploded but caused no injuries. No claim for responsibility was made.
7 December 1972, Singapore
Letter bombs were sent to public institutions in Israel from Singapore, for which the PFLP-GC claimed responsibility.
24 December 1972, London
A Fatah-Black September terrorist was arrested in London carrying weapons and explosives which the police later stated were to be used against Israel embassies in Scandinavia.
28 December 1972, Bangkok
Fatah-Black September terrorists stormed the Israel embassy holding six employees hostage. They were later released and allowed to leave Thailand.
1 January 1973, Paris
Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for a bomb found outside the Jewish Agency building which exploded but caused little damage and no casualties.
9 January 1973, Cyprus
Four PFLP terrorists were taken off a Haifa-bound ship. Cypriot police later announced that they planned a terrorist attack in Israel.
9 January 1973, Schoenau
Three Fatah-Black September terrorists were arrested following a foiled attack against the Schoenau castle in Austria which acted as a transit centre for Soviet Jewish immigrants.
24 January 1973, Athens
Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for a wave of letter bombs sent from Greece to Israeli consulates in Chile and Australia, and a Rabbi in Canada.
26 January 1973, Madrid
Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for the murder of an Israeli national.
26 January 1973, Vienna
Three Fatah-Black September terrorists were arrested while crossing the Italian border en route to an attack on a transit hostel for Soviet Jewish immigrants in Vienna.
29 January 1973, Turkey
The Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for letter bombs sent to Israel which exploded but caused little damage.
31 January 1973, Rome
Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for letter bombs sent to the Israel embassy in Rwanda from Rome.
5 February 1973, Rome
Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for letter bombs sent to the Israeli embassy in Guatemala.
8 February 1973, West Germany
Fatah-Black September claimed responsibility for letter bombs sent to the Israeli embassy in Bangui, Central African Republic.
6 March 1973, New York
Police announced that they had discovered car bombs outside the El Al terminal at JFK airport and at branches of the Israel Discount Bank and Bank Leumi.
21 March 1973, Singapore
An explosion at the office of Zim Shipping Lines caused extensive damage and wounded one person. Responsibility was claimed by Fatah-Black September.
4 April 1973, Rome
Two PFLP terrorists were caught attempting to attack an El Al plane at Rome airport. They were subsequently released from custody and deported.
9 April 1973, Cyprus
Seven ANYLP terrorists were caught attempting to attack an Israel-bound Arkia plane. They were subsequently released.
27 April 1973, Rome
An El Al employee was killed by a terrorist who was arrested but released two years later. It is not known to which group he belonged.
29 April 1973, Costa Rica
A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a synagogue wall causing damage but no casualties. No claim for responsibility was made.
7 May 1973, Paris
Two armed terrorist attempted to seize a room overlooking the Israel embassy from which they could attack embassy staff. It is not known to which group they belonged.
1 July 1973, Washington
Members of the Fatah-Black September, shot and killed Yosef Ayalon, an Israeli air attach? in Washington DC.
19 July 1973, Athens
An attempt by PFLP terrorists to attack the El Al office was thwarted. They were captured and subsequently deported.
5 September 1973, Rome
Fatah-Black September terrorists were arrested shortly before they attacked an El Al plane at Rome airport with SA7 missiles. They were subsequently released.
12 September 1973, Seoul
Letter bombs were sent to Israel from South Korea by Fatah Black September but were intercepted.
28 September 1973, Marchegg
As-Saiqa terrorists boarded a train transporting Soviet Jewish emigrants at the Austrian border and held three of them hostage until the Austrian government agreed to close the Schoenau Castle transit facilities. The terrorists were subsequently released.
19 November 1973, Paris
Thirteen members of the PFLP, Algerian and Turkish terrorist groups were arrested near Paris shortly before their planned kidnap of an Israeli diplomat’s family and attack on the Israel embassy. They were tried and convicted but subsequently released.
14 December 1973, London
Letter bombs posted from England were discovered in Israel shortly after similar bombs posted in Holland and Switzerland were also discovered.
30 December 1973, London
J Edward Sieff, President of Marks & Spencer, was wounded in an assassination attempt at his St Johns Wood home. Claimed by Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (‘Carlos’) on behalf of the PFLP.
24 January 1974, London
Explosives were thrown at the Bank Hapoalim, Mayfair branch, resulting in extensive damage. Claimed by PFLP.
3 August 1974, Paris
Three car bombs exploded outside the offices of the Fonds Social Juive, the pro-Israel Aurore newspaper and the right-wing Minute newspaper. A fourth car bomb failed to explode outside the office of the Israel Purchasing Mission. The PFLP claimed responsibility.
26 August 1974, Frankfurt
PFLP claimed responsibility for explosions outside the Israel government tourist office which caused damage but no casualties.
13 January 1975, Paris
PFLP terrorists shot rockets at an El Al plane parked at Paris Airport. They missed the Israel plane but hit a nearby Yugoslav plane wounding three people.
16 January 1975, Paris
Molotov cocktails were thrown at a building mistakenly believed to be the headquarters of Jewish organisations in France causing extensive damage. Responsibility was claimed by the previously unknown Arab Commando Group.
19 January 1975, Paris
PFLP terrorists attacked an El Al plane which resulted in a gun battle with the police in which twenty people were wounded. Subsequently the terrorists surrendered and were deported.
2 April 1975, Buenos Aires
A bomb exploded outside the Yeshurun synagogue causing damage but no c