Rome's Great Synagogue

Documents from the 1970s confirm Italy “sold out its Jews” in non-aggression deal with Palestinian terror groups.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

The Italian government announced a probe into newly published documents from 1982 which seemingly confirm that Rome had an agreement with the Palestinian Liberation Organization not to interfere with terror attacks against Jewish targets.

The documents were exposed by the Italian daily La Repubblica on Friday.

The documents relate to a 1982 attack on the Great Synagogue of Rome. On October 9 of that year, during the festive holiday of Simchat Torah, three Palestinian terrorists opened fire and threw grenades at Jewish parents picking up their children from the synagogue’s back entrance.

One toddler was killed and 37 civilians were injured. An eyewitness said the death toll would have been higher but the grenades bounced off the steps back towards the street.

According to the documents, Italy’s internal security agency, Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Democratica (SISDE), warned the government several times that Palestinian students were planning an attack.

Rome’s Great Synagogue topped the list of likely targets. Follow-up warnings specified that the Abu Nidal Organization, an offshoot of the Palestine Liberation Organization, would strike during a holiday period.

Not only the did the warnings go unheeded; the documents show that a police car normally stationed outside the Great Synagogue was not present on that fateful day.

According to the documents, the quid pro quo was reached in 1973 between then-prime minister Aldo Moro, the PLO and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was then led by George Habash. In exchange for politically supporting the Palestinians, the terror groups pledged not to attack Italian interests.

“Thirty-nine years after the terror attack in the synagogue of Rome, the time has come for us to hear the truth,” Enrico Borghi, a member of the Italian Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic (COPASIR), told La Repubblica.

The 1982 attack came Israel’s War in Lebanon, which was sparked by the Abu Nidal Organization’s attempted assassination of Israeli Ambassador to Britain Shlomo Argov. Several weeks before the attack on the Great Synagogue, PLO Yasser Arafat visited Italy, where he held meetings with Italy’s president, foreign minister, and Pope John Paul II.

No terror group ever claimed responsibility for the synagogue attack.

One of the terrorists, Osama Abdel al-Zomar, was arrested in Greece for smuggling explosives, but Greek authorities turned down Italy’s extradition request and deported Zomar to Libya. Zomar, who was said to be a member of the notorious Abu Nidal Organization, was convicted in absentia by an Italian court while in Greek custody. He is believed to still be living in Libya.

The other two terrorists were never identified.

‘Free Hand’ to Attack Jews, Israelis

Suspicions that Italy had cut some kind of deal with the Palestinians, referred to “Lodo Moro” or Moro’s Secret Deal,” have persisted for years.

In 2008, Italy’s former prime minister and president Francesco Cossiga confirmed as much when he told Israel’s Ynet that Italy had “sold out its Jews” by giving Palestinians a “free hand” to attack Jewish and Israeli interests in the country as long as Italian interests were not targeted.

French Jews have demanded a probe of a similar suspected “non-aggression” pact with a Palestinian terror group following the 1982 massacre at Paris kosher restaurant. Members of the Abu Nidal Organization attacked a kosher restaurant, killing six and injuring 22. It wasn’t until 2020 that French authorities charged Palestinian terrorist Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed.

In 1973, presumably before Moro’s secret deal, Palestinian terrorists attacked a terminal at the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino International Airport in Fiumicino, Lazio, Italy. A Pan Am aircraft with passengers waiting to taxi for takeoff was bombed and a separate Lufthansa flight was hijacked. In all, 34 people were killed.

In 1974, the five surviving hijackers were turned over to the custody of the PLO.

Moro’s side of the story will never be known. In 1978, while serving in a senior position in the Christian Democratic party, he was kidnapped by members of the far-Left Red Brigades seeking the release of imprisoned members. Italy refused to negotiate for Moro’s release and nationwide searches yielded nothing. His bullet-riddled body was found in Rome in the trunk of a car.

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