PARIS(Reuters) - A French magistrate has issued international arrest warrants for three men living in Oslo, Ramallah and Jordan, suspected of carrying out an attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris in 1982 that killed six people, a judicial source said.
The bombing and shooting at the Jo Goldenberg restaurant in an old Jewish neighborhood of Paris was at the time the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in France since World War Two, and was part of a wave of violence from Palestinian militants and other groups during the 1980s.
Investigating magistrate Marc Trevidic issued arrest warrants on Feb 20 against three former members of the Abu Nidal Organization, a splinter group of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the source told Reuters, confirming earlier reports by RTL radio and Paris Match magazine.
The source said the suspects were identified 32 years after the attacks thanks to statements from other former members of the Abu Nidal group using a French judicial process that maintained their anonymity.
One such witness, according to the magazine, said the backer of the operation was late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, who apparently wanted to punish France for helping his enemy, PLO leader Yasser Arafat, to evacuate his Beirut headquarters after being encircled by Israeli forces.
The men targeted by the arrest warrants today live in Oslo, Ramallah, and in Jordan, the magazine said, identifying them as Walid Abdulrahman, 56, Mahmoud Khader Abed, 60, and Mohamed Souhair al-Abassi, 64.
Abassi is suspected of having helped with logistics for the attack, in which gunmen launched a grenade and burst into the restaurant, opening fire with machine guns.
Trevedic has been probing the formerly cold case for seven years with help from members of French intelligence.
Other attacks in France during this period included the bombing of a Paris synagogue in 1980, as well as bombings of transport hubs and on Paris streets in the 1980s and mid-90s.
In recent years, Islamist militants have carried out attacks targeting French Jews. Most recently, four people were killed last month in a kosher supermarket by a French gunman who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group of Syria and Iraq.
Reporting by Nicolas Bertin and Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky