DETECTIVES have made a ”significant breakthrough” in a 30-year-old investigation into terrorist bombings of the Israeli consulate and the Hakoah Club in Sydney. They now believe a woman was involved in the attacks.
And they have identified gas cylinders used in the bombing of the Hakoah Club in Bondi on December 23, 1982, as originating from the State Rail Authority, as it was then known.
”There are positive lines of inquiry,” said Detective Inspector David Gawel, the officer in charge of Operation Forbearance, the ”cold case” investigation which started at the beginning of this year.
”We can confirm we know the cylinders came from the SRA, we know how many the SRA had.We are now trying to find out who had access to those sort of cylinders.”
The breakthrough comes just before the 30th anniversary of the bombings. At 1.55pm on the Thursday before Christmas, the consulate, in Westfield Towers in William Street, was rocked by an explosion. Two people were hurt. About five hours later, an LPG bomb planted in a 1971 Chrysler Valiant sedan left in the car park of the Hakoah Club went off but failed to detonate properly. Police said at the time it was extremely fortunate no one was killed.
It is believed police have already obtained some records from the old SRA and are searching for more. The 20 detectives and analysts attached to Operation Forbearance include officers from the Australian Federal Police, the NSW Crime Commission and ASIO. They now plan to interview people who worked for the SRA at the time.
The officers believe they have established that a woman was involved. Previously, two men had been identified and sketches of them were issued at the time of the bombing, and also when the cold case was publicly revealed earlier his year.
The Herald has been told the woman was involved in purchasing the Valiant parked underneath the Hakoah Club.
The two men had put a deposit on the car on December 14. The woman went to the car yard on December 22 to pick it up.
Significantly, detectives say a short time later the woman was seen with the Valiant parked behind a Mitsubishi Sigma station wagon which may have been previously used by the group. In addition, there is evidence there were a number of phone calls between the suspects and the car yard, as the purchase of the Valiant was negotiated.
Crucial to the investigation is the terrorist turned informer Mohammed Rashed, now in prison in the United States for his role in the 1982 bombing of Pan Am flight 830 from Tokyo to Honolulu. It is believed Rashed, a member of the 15 May terror group, came to Australia to help with the Sydney attacks.
He was sentenced only in 2006. As part of his plea bargain, he started co-operating with authorities, and NSW detectives have been to the US to interview him.
Officers involved in the inquiry believe it was Rashed who provided the timing device for the Hakoah Club bomb while the cylinders were sourced by locals who are still living in Sydney.
Inspector Gawel said there was a long way to go in the inquiry. Arrests were not imminent. He appealed to anyone who worked for the SRA at the time who may have noticed something suspicious to come forward.
He said by making images of vehicles and the woman public, officers were hoping a member of the public might say ”hang on, I know who that might be”.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.