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'85 Northridge Blast 1 of 4 Linked by FBI to 'Elements' of JDL

July 06, 1986|DAVE PALERMO | Times Staff Writer

A bomb blast at the Northridge home of Holocaust skeptic George Ashley was one of four terrorist bombings in 1985 that were probably committed by "elements" of the militant Jewish Defense League, according to an FBI report on terrorism released last week.

The FBI Analysis of Terrorist Incidents and Terrorist-Related Activities in the United States also repeated earlier speculation by the bureau that the JDL was involved in a Santa Ana bombing in October that killed Arab rights leader Alex M. Odeh and two East Coast bombings at the homes of accused Nazis Tscherim Soobzokov and Elmars Sprogis.

However, the report hedged on remarks made last November by FBI spokesman Lane Bonner that the bureau was "attributing" the bombings to the JDL. Instead of flatly blaming the militant Jewish organization for the bombings, the report states: "Although certain evidence leads to suspicion of elements of the JDL, final attribution to any one specific group must await further investigation."

Spokesman Declines Comment

FBI spokesman Bill Carter declined to comment on the discrepancy between Bonner's statements and the report. Bonner was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

Ashley escaped injury when a pipe bomb exploded before dawn on May 15, 1985, ripping off the double front doors to his home. The 58-year-old director of the Institute for Historical Review--a group that alleges that the Holocaust never happened--was out of the country Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

Ashley said in an interview earlier this year that he had received telephone threats from people identifying themselves as members of the JDL before the bombing. The letters "JDL" were spray-painted in dark blue on the walkway leading to his house the morning of the blast.

JDL National Chairman Irv Rubin denied that his group was involved in any of the bombings, which killed Odeh and Soobzokov and injured nine others. He also took issue with the FBI making accusations against his group when the bureau has neither made arrests in any of the bombings nor disclosed what evidence it has linking the militant organization to the terrorist acts.

Carter said the bureau uses various criteria in attributing terrorist incidents to a particular group, including the nature of the target and the methods used by various groups in the past. A major factor, he said, are anonymous telephone calls which often follow bombings claiming responsibility for the incident on behalf of an organization.

Rubin said the method used by the bureau is faulty and noted that the report backed off from Bonner's statements.

"They were 100% back in November," Rubin said. "It was the JDL. They made no bones about it.

"What the FBI's doing is simple. Some character calls up a news agency or whatever and uses the phrase 'Never Again,' which is JDL's slogan, and on that assumption they can go and slander a whole group. That's tragic."

Lists 7 Incidents

The FBI's report lists seven terrorist incidents. The three not linked to the JDL were the Jan. 25 rocket attack on the San Juan Puerto Rican Mission attributed to the Organization of Volunteers for the Puerto Rican Revolution; the Feb. 23 bombing of the Police Benevolent Assn. office in New York City attributed to the Red Guerrilla Resistance, and the wounding of a U.S. serviceman last Nov. 6 in Puerto Rico, attributed to the Organization of Volunteers for the Puerto Rican Revolution. The serviceman was the only one injured in the three incidents.

The second of the four bombings blamed on Jewish militants occurred Aug. 15, when accused former Nazi SS officer Soobzokov was mortally injured when he opened the front door to his Paterson, N.J., home after being awakened by a neighbor who discovered a burning car in front of the house.

Paterson Police Lt. John Ragucci said the bomb, which blew off part of Soobzokov's right leg, was connected to the door by a trip wire. Soobzokov, who successfully fought U.S. government attempts to have him deported, died a month later.

Accused War Criminal

The third incident occurred Sept. 6, when former Latvian policeman and accused Nazi war criminal Elmars Sprogis, 70, escaped injury when a bomb blast shattered the front door to his Long Island, N.Y., home, seriously injuring a passer-by who spotted flames along the side of Sprogis' house and pounded on the door to awaken him.

New York FBI spokesman Joseph Valiquette said "the door did appear to have been booby-trapped." In two telephone calls to the Long Island newspaper Newsday an apparently recorded male voice said, "Listen carefully. Jewish Defense League. Nazi war criminal. Never again."

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