The FBI has reopened an investigation into the assassination of an Israeli diplomat in 1973, after a reporter discovered possible new leads.
Colonel Yosef Alon was serving as a military attache in Maryland when he was shot and killed on July 1, 1973, as he was exiting his car in the driveway of his home.
The case was recently reopened after investigative reporter Adam Goldman made contact with Ilich Ramírez Sánchez — known as Carlos the Jackal — who replaced Mohamed Boudia as head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, The New York Times reported this week.
On the day of the attack, the Cairo-based Voice of Palestine claimed that Alon was targeted in retaliation for Israel’s killing of Boudia two days earlier. The FBI suspected Arab terrorists killed Alon but closed the investigation in 1976.
However, Ramírez’s testimony pointed to American assassins with connections to the Palestinian terror movement.
Based on Goldman’s material and an earlier article of his on the subject, FBI agent Eugene Casey interviewed Ramírez, who is currently serving a life sentence in French prison.
The Jackal claimed that it was not Palestinian terrorists but rather US Vietnam vets who assassinated Alon at the behest of a Syrian member of Black September — the group responsible for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Casey, initially skeptical, came around to believing Ramírez’s version of the events.
Alon’s daughter Rachel Alon-Margalit praised the latest development, but accused Israel of failing to show enough concern about her father’s fate over the years.
“We are happy with the reopening,” Alon-Margalit told the Ynet news site. “It is a mystery that we have lived with for many years, but I was surprised that it is an FBI investigation and not an investigation by Israeli authorities.”
She said she felt the Israeli government had abandoned her father’s case due to the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the constant tragedies Israel deals with.
“Three months after my father was killed the Yom Kippur War broke out, which was a greater national trauma,” she said. “Unfortunately, life here is full of new tragedies and traumas, and the new ones push away the old, so the Alon family are forgotten. When my mother was alive, she tried, as did we, to reopen the investigation and not let matters lie, but the doors were closed to her.”
Asked why she thought Israeli authorities were not interested in investigating, she said, “Maybe it’s not interesting. Maybe it would complicate things with the Americans. Maybe Joe Alon did what he had to do, thank you and goodbye.”
Alon was shot five times as he was getting out of his car, returning home from a dinner party at about 1 a.m.. He had served almost three years in his diplomatic role and was due to return to Israel the following month. As a pilot and founder of the Israel Air Force his remit as naval and air attache was to ensure Israel received the best planes and the latest aircraft technology from the US.
In “Chasing Shadows,” a book about the assassination, Fred Burton wrote that Alon was murdered by a terrorist from the Black September group who was ultimately killed by the Mossad in 2011, though Casey, the FBI agent, said that was never verified.