Police welcome Coronial findings on 40th anniversary of Israeli Consulate and Hakoah Club bombings

Friday, 23 December 2022 11:01:55 AM

The NSW Police Force welcomes the NSW State Coroner’s findings and recommendation following an inquiry into terrorist attacks which occurred in Sydney four decades ago.

Just before 2pm on Thursday 23 December 1982, a bomb exploded directly in front of the Israeli Consulate in Westfield Towers on William Street, Sydney.

A number of people were injured by shrapnel and glass, as well as being thrown across the room from impacts of the explosion.

The building sustained significant damage, reducing the internal stairs to rubble and creating a 30cm hole in the concrete steel-reinforced floor.

Later that day, the Hakoah Club was hosting hundreds of competitors for the Maccabi Games when a Valiant, which was parked in the basement of the club, exploded about 6.45pm.

While the device detonated, fortunately, the full potential of the blast did not eventuate. No one was injured, but it is believed the blast was intended to collapse the building

Investigations into the attacks were commenced and were quickly linked together and deemed to be acts of international terrorism motivated by Palestinian nationalism.

Extensive investigations were conducted, and a man was charged in 1983, however, the matter was no billed before the commencement of the trial.

In 2011, investigators from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) established Strike Force Forbearance to re-investigate the bombings.

Strike Force Forbearance detectives subsequently prepared a Coronial brief of evidence, which was heard as an Inquiry before the NSW State Coroner, Teresa O’Sullivan, who handed down her findings today (Friday 23 December 2022).

The Coroner found that both explosions were an act of international terrorism perpetrated by the ‘May 15’ terrorist organisation with the assistance of one or more local supporters. Further, that the two bombs were constructed outside Australia by ‘May 15’ leader and founder, Hussayn Al-Umari (also known as Abu Ibrahim), and that he directed that the attacks take place.

Evidence adduced during the inquiry described Al Umari and ‘May 15’ as the most ‘active, most dangerous and most ruthless of all terrorist organisations in the world’ (at that time). Evidence from international experts indicated that the bombs matched at least twenty other explosive devices either detonated or located around the world.

The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation currently has a $US5 million reward offered for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction in any country of Husayn Al Umari: https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/wanted_terrorists/husayn-muhammad-al-umari/@@download.pdf

Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton, welcomed Her Honour’s findings and supported the recommendation as part of the NSW Police Force’s commitment to finding answers and seeking justice.

“Strike Force Forbearance detectives have dedicated countless hours over more than a decade to prepare the evidence to present to the NSW Coroner and are proud to have brought the investigation this far,” Assistant Commissioner Walton said.

“From a NSW Police Force perspective, after forty years, we have not only identified the international terrorists who directed these acts of terrorism, but also how they made the devices and carried out the attacks and we thank the local and international experts who have assisted us.

“I’d also like to acknowledge the strength and resilience of the community, particularly today on the 40th anniversary of that day of senseless violence,” Assistant Commissioner Walton said.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark said today’s findings bring some comfort to the NSW Jewish community and those who were impacted 40 years ago.

“We thank the NSW Coroner’s Court, the NSW Government and the NSW Police Force for their steadfast and resolute commitment to pursuing justice. Our community remains hopeful that the perpetrators of this heinous attack will be caught,” Mr Bark said.

A $1 million NSW Government reward for information, which was announced earlier this month, can be paid to anyone who has information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the bombings.

The NSW JCTT is comprised of members from the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the NSW Crime Commission.

Anyone with information about extremist activity or possible threats to the community should come forward, no matter how small or insignificant you may think the information may be. The National Security Hotline is 1800 123 400.

Anyone with information which may assist Strike Force Forbearance detectives is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.