The doubters are most troubled by [Jacques Chirac]'s use of Msgr. Hilarion Capucci as an intermediary last week. Capucci, a Syrian who was imprisoned in 1974 by the Israelis on charges of arms smuggling when he was Greek Orthodox archbishop of Jerusalem, conferred with the French minister of security, the Syrian foreign minister and, in the most controversial contact of all, prisoner Georges Ibrahim Abdallah.
Nevertheless, the government is obviously focusing on Syria in the campaign to head off a resumption of bombing. That would indicate that, at the least, the Chirac government believes the Syrians have a way of influencing the bombers. Among other things, Syria controls the part of northern Lebanon that is home to the Abdallah clan.
Both the Chirac government and the previous Socialist government evidently came close to releasing Abdallah after past negotiations with his clan. Capucci has said he took part in one of these series of negotiations. At first glance, putting Abdallah on trial would seem to reflect a new resolve by the government not to release him.