AMMAN — Extraditing to France the suspected mastermind of a deadly attack on a Paris Jewish restaurant in 1982 may prove difficult, a Jordanian source close to the case said on Thursday.
“Jordan does not usually extradite its citizens to other countries, even in the case of an extradition agreement,” the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“In such a case, they are generally tried in specialized Jordanian courts.”
Zuhair Mohamad Hassan Khalid al-Abassi, alias “Amjad Atta”, was one of three men for whom France issued an international arrest warrant earlier this year over the attack that killed six people and wounded 22.
He was detained in Jordan on June 1 and later released on bail and a travel ban was imposed pending a decision on his extradition.
A French legal source in Paris said on Wednesday that an extradition request was under way.
Between three and five men are thought to have taken part in the attack 32 years ago on the Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant, which was blamed on the Abu Nidal Organisation, a Palestinian militant group.
The 62-year-old suspect, of Palestinian origin, is today “an ageing man who works in the construction sector”, the Jordanian source said.
He appeared — without legal representation — before Judge Talal al-Saghir, who specialises in extradition cases.
The source said that when asked if he was the person being sought by Paris in connection with the attack, the suspect replied in the affirmative.
The judge then ordered his passport to be surrendered and released him on bail, pending resolution of the issue.
Security sources said Abassi was detained in the city of Zarqa some 30 kilometres (18 miles) northeast of Amman which hosts one of the kingdom’s largest camps for Palestinian refugees.
Zarqa was the home town of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the late leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed by a US air strike in 2006.