Canadian police arrested the main suspect in the 1980 bombing of a synagogue in Paris that killed four people and injured 20 others, France's interior minister said Thursday.
Michele Alliot-Marie welcomed the arrest. In a statement, she credited the "excellent cooperation" between French police and intelligence services and Canadian authorities, but did not provide further details on the suspect.
A judicial official identified him as Hassan Diab and said he was detained by police in Quebec on Thursday on an international arrest warrant issued by French anti-terrorist judges investigating the attack. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with judicial policy.
Diab, a 55-year-old of Palestinian origin, is a part-time professor at the University of Ottawa.
Provincial and municipal police forces in Canada said they had no information on the arrest. Royal Canadian Mounted Police could not immediately provide any information.
Diab has Lebanese and Canadian passports and lived in the U.S. for several years before moving to Canada, the judicial official said. He was arrested in the city of Gatineau in western Quebec, according to the Web site of French news weekly L'Express.
Victim of mistaken identity?
Diab said in an interview with the French daily Le Figaro last month that he was a victim of mistaken identity and had nothing to do with the attack.
Anti-terrorist judges Marc Trevidic and Yves Jannier traveled to Canada at the beginning of the week to further their inquiry into the bombing, the judicial official said. Investigators were searching Diab's home and office for clues including DNA samples.
On Oct. 3, 1980, a bomb containing pentrite — one of the most powerful high explosives known — and hidden in the saddlebags of a parked motorcycle exploded outside the synagogue of the conservative U.L.I.F. group as hundreds of worshippers were gathered inside for a Sabbath service.
Three French men and one Israeli woman were killed. Around 200,000 people later marched through the streets of Paris to protest the attack.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Special Operations was blamed at the time. Diab's name was on a list of former members of the Palestinian extremist group obtained by German intelligence officials.