A French town has bestowed honorary citizenship on a man sentenced to life in prison for the 1982 murders of an American and an Israeli diplomat and for attempting to kill another U.S. diplomat in 1984.
The city council of Bagnolet, which sits east of Paris, voted on Wednesday to name Georges Ibrahim Abdallah - a founder of the terrorist group the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction - as an honorary resident. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency which quoted French media reports, the city council called him a “communist activist” and “political prisoner” who “belongs to the resistance movement of Lebanon, his country.”
Abdallah was handed a life sentence in 1984 in France for planning and ordering the killings of U.S. diplomat Lieut. Col. Charles R. Ray and Israeli diplomat Yacov Barsimantov. Ray was serving as the American military attache in Paris when was killed.
The council of Bagnolet has a majority representation by the French Communist party, JTA reported. The motion to grant Abdallah honorary citizenship did not note the crimes for which he was convicted, instead referring to him as “one of Europe’s last remaining political prisoners” and “determined defender of the Palestinian just cause,” JTA reported.
The Israeli diplomat’s murder was particularly shocking at the time, as he was shot in the head three times in front of his wife and children when they were outside their apartment building.
The town’s motion to honor Abdallah accused the U.S. government of preventing his release from French prison. He has been denied parole eight times since 1999. Though the parole board did approve his release in January, the French interior minister would not sign the release order after protests from the U.S. Congress.
“To call for his liberation, the municipal council declares him an honorary citizen of Bagnolet,” the motion said.
This latest honor comes less than a year after the Paris suburb of Bezons granted honorary citizenship to Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist Majdi Rimawi who was convicted of assassinating Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.