A Shiite Moslem faction claimed today to be holding four Jews kidnaped in Beirut and said they would be freed only in exchange for prisoners held by Israeli military authorities and their Lebanese allies in southern Lebanon.
A statement delivered to a foreign news agency here today said that the group, which it identified as the Organization of the Oppressed in the World, was holding Isaac Sasson, Elie Srour, Haim Cohen Halala and Isaac Tarrab. The first three were abducted in Moslem-controlled west Beirut within a four-day period last March, but nothing was known about Tarrab, whose kidnaping had not been reported before.
Sasson is head of the higher council of the Jewish community in Lebanon and Elie Hallak, another Lebanese Jew kidnaped last March, is vice president. Today's message did not mention Hallak.
The same group had claimed responsibility July 1 for a bombing attack against the Madrid offices of British Airways and Trans World Airlines. It was unclear why it chose to claim responsibility for the kidnapings now.
The group accused Israel of keeping more than 300 "strugglers" prisoner at Khiam in southern Lebanon, mistreating them and refusing to permit Red Cross representatives to visit them. Israeli military authorities have set up a detention center there to replace the Atlit Prison near Haifa, Israel, the statement said.