Australian police offer $1 million to solve 40-year-old bombing of Jewish targets

The Israeli consulate and Jewish Hakoah Club in Sydney were bombed on the same day in 1982, causing multiple injuries.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Australian Police is offering $1 million to anyone who helps them find and convict the perpetrators of two anti-Jewish terrorist attacks that took place almost exactly 40 years ago, local media reported Monday.

The offer was made in conjunction with the reopening of a coronial inquiry into what the authorities call the country’s first terrorism cold case. The police at the time had quickly described as acts of “international terrorism motivated by Palestinian nationalism.”

On December 23, 1982, the first device detonated outside the tall office towers in Sydney that housed the Israeli consulate, among other businesses. Dozens of people were injured, having being thrown by the force of the blast and struck by flying shards of glass.

Five hours later, a bomb hidden in the trunk of a car partially exploded in an underground parking lot that served the Jewish Hakoah Club in the suburb of Bondi. There were hundreds of sportspeople in the building at the time for a Maccabiah event, and the assumption was that the perpetrators were trying to collapse the structure. Because of mechanical malfunction, no injuries were caused by the detonation.

“It’s been described as a miracle, but certainly great fortune that no one was killed in those events,” Asst. Commissioner Mark Walton said Monday at a press conference on the inquiry.

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The case is not a complete mystery.

Dr. David Kell, one of the lawyers in the inquiry, told the Coroner’s Court that the authorities know the bomb was made by Hussein Mohammed Al-Umari of the ‘Palestinian May 15’ terrorist organization – named in commemoration of May 15, 1948, the first day of the independence of the State of Israel, declared the night before by Israel’s first president, David Ben-Gurion.

Al-Umari is wanted not only  by the Australians, Kell said, but also by the U.S. Department of Justice, “for a number of bombing campaigns.”

Australian news show WA Today showed a 2009 FBI Most Wanted poster of the terrorist that charged him with conspiracy to commit murder and assault, aircraft sabotage and placing bombs on aircraft, among other crimes. It said that he was born in Jaffa during the British Mandate and that the State Department was “offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to [Al-Umary’s] apprehension or conviction, in any country.”

According to “the date of birth used,” he would be 86 today.

The media channel reported that police believe a “sleeper cell” of three locals carried out the attacks, based on the testimony of the man who sold them the car that exploded the very next day.

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A composite sketch of the suspects that was made at the time got no results, and neither did a reward of $100,000 offered a decade ago, when police reopened the case. Deputy Premier and Police Minister Paul Toole said Monday that he hoped that increasing the sum 10-fold will be the “final push” for someone to provide the necessary breakthrough.

The authorities reportedly think that one of them may still be living in the country.

The Jewish community is also very interested in seeing justice done.

“Even though 40 years might have passed,” said Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark, “the pain is just as current as it was on the day that it took place.”

“These bombings were an act of terror on home soil against innocent Australians with an intent to kill,” he added. “The community deserves to know the truth about what took place that day.”