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Israel Unhelpful in JDL Terrorist Probe, FBI Says

November 19, 1987|RONALD J. OSTROW | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The FBI has complained that Israel is obstructing its investigation of the 1985 bomb slaying of Arab-American leader Alex Odeh in Santa Ana and several other terrorist acts allegedly linked to the Jewish Defense League, internal FBI memoranda disclosed Wednesday.

The memos, written by the head of the FBI's investigations division last summer, charged that Israel's responses to FBI requests for information about terrorist suspects living in Israel "have been untimely, incomplete and in certain cases no response was rendered. . . .

"Response to these leads is crucial for the solution of the 25 terrorist incidents and other criminal activity perpetrated by the JDL," Floyd I. Clarke, assistant director for investigations, told his boss, Executive Assistant Director Oliver B. Revell, in one memo.

A copy of one of the memos was obtained by the Village Voice in New York, and its contents along with those of a second memo were subsequently confirmed by government sources.

FBI Declines Comment

The FBI, which works closely with Israel's Secret Intelligence Service, refused to comment on grounds that such ties "must be maintained in a confidential matter in order to ensure a free exchange of meaningful intelligence."

Yosef Gal, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy here, did not respond to questions about the memoranda or Israel's alleged failure to cooperate in the investigations, which are being conducted by federal grand juries in Los Angeles and New York.

Any Israeli effort to hamper the FBI's probe of terrorism directed against Arab-Americans would likely strain U.S.-Israeli relations, already bruised by Israel's lack of cooperation in the case of Jonathan Jay Pollard, the Naval intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel.

A government source familiar with the latest impasse contended the situation "has improved somewhat (from when the memos were written), but still is far from resolved." But Charles Rose, an assistant U.S. attorney directing the Brooklyn-based investigation of terrorist acts allegedly tied to the JDL, said he was "surprised" by the FBI's memo and contended that Israel had not hampered his probe.

Score of Terrorist Acts

Rose's wide-ranging investigation is being conducted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as mail fraud and extortion laws related to fund-raising for the JDL. It covers a score of terrorist acts dating back to 1984, including the Odeh slaying.

Another government source said suspects in Rose's inquiry include JDL members who frequently travel to and from Israel and are active there in the anti-Arab party led by JDL's founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane.

The FBI memo said it was seeking from the Israeli government "telephone subscriber information, criminal background information, arrest records, prison contacts, associates, residence status and travel documentations."

The FBI's terrorism section has held numerous meetings with Israeli Secret Intelligence Service representatives here, where its concerns over lack of cooperation were raised, the memo said.

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