The terrorists, in fact, insist that their current fury is founded on the French government's failure to keep its word after secret negotiations. If the French had not reneged, according to the terrorists, 35-year-old Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, accused of complicity in the murder of a U.S. military attache, Lt. Col. Charles Ray, and an Israeli diplomat, Yacov Barsimantov, would now be free. The terrorists claim that they will continue bombing until Abdallah and two other prisoners are set free.
Denis Baudouin, [Jacques Chirac]'s spokesman, told reporters Thursday that the terrorists' claim "seems completely absurd and false." But when Abdallah came to trial in July on charges of false papers and illegal possession of weapons, the French prosecutor, to the consternation of the U.S. government, asked for no more than a four-year sentence. Finding Abdallah guilty, the judge imposed this relatively light sentence, making Abdallah eligible for parole almost immediately.
The United States, however, protested and demanded that Abdallah be tried on charges of complicity in the 1982 murder of Lt. Col. Ray. France, facing an angry row with the United States if it released Abdallah, did not do so. Apparently in retaliation, the new and more murderous wave of bombings began on Sept. 8.