Israeli police today announced the arrest of Palestinians believed responsible for the slaying of a British visitor Sunday as well as another murder and the wounding of two foreign tourists in Arab East Jerusalem.
Because of a court-ordered blackout of the number of suspects, their names and other details, police said only that they belonged to a pro-Syrian dissident Palestinian faction headed by Col. Saeed Musa, also known as Abu Musa.
In Beirut yesterday, however, a communique purportedly from Abu Nidal, like Abu Musa a bitter foe of Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said his group killed Briton Paul Appleby on Sunday to avenge British cooperation in the recent U.S. raid against Libya.
Earlier, police officials said the same .22-caliber revolver was used in the murders of an Israeli businesswoman on April 14 and of Appleby, outside the Garden Tomb, an East Jerusalem shrine revered by some Protestants as the site of Christ's burial.
Police said the arrested Palestinians were also believed responsible for shooting and wounding an American tourist, David Blumenfeld, and a West German woman within the walled Old City in separate incidents during the past six weeks.
Atef Abu Bakr, identified as a spokesman for the Abu Nidal terrorist group, warned on CBS News Monday evening that his group will attack Americans to avenge the U.S. bombing of Libya. He said that "America's military and intelligence institutions are our direct enemies."
Abu Bakr, speaking from Lebanon, named as targets John Singlaub, a retired U.S. general active in rightist causes; Dr. Edward Luttwak of Georgetown University, a former consultant to the Defense and State departments, and Oliver North, an adviser to President Reagan. He also named the Heritage Foundation.
Singlaub, contacted by United Press International, said he would not alter his lifestyle, except that "I probably will keep weapons closer at hand than I have previously."
With American tourism down an estimated 40 percent since the beginning of the year because of fears of terrorism, Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek said today that he would ask well-known foreign movie stars, artists and politicians to fly to Israel for short visits to Jerusalem aimed at reassuring hesitant would-be visitors.
Especially hard-hit are luxury hotels catering principally to American visitors. Travel agents and hotels reported that Christian and Jewish tour group operators in the United States have canceled planned visits en masse in recent weeks.
Travel specialists said the number of European visitors also had decreased, but less so than tourists from the United States.
In an interview in the local press, Kollek criticized "alarmist reports" on American television for setting off a "panic which is simply unreasonable."
"If people stop traveling," he said, "they are handing [Libyan leader Muammar] Qaddafi and other terrorists their victory on a silver platter."
The Associated Press reported from Beirut:
Unusually heavy Israeli air and sea patrols were reported today and the Shiite Moslem militia Amal went on alert in case of an Israeli raid on its bases.
Amal sources said their leadership believed Israel might attack Beirut's southern suburbs, where radical Shiite groups are said to be based. Shiites have kidnaped foreigners and attacked Israeli military units in southern Lebanon.
A Lebanese military source said Israeli warplanes flew repeated high-altitude reconnaissance missions for three hours over southern Lebanon and the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley.
He said the Syrians sent up two MiG21 interceptors as the last Israeli jets were returning home, but there was no confrontation.
Israeli air patrols monitor guerrilla groups that may be preparing attacks on its territory.