Next Monday, 14 January 2013, at dawn at the latest, the gates of Lannemezan Prison in southwest France will be opened for the release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah. It will mark day 10,309 of his imprisonment and he will finally be set free.
The sun of Kobayat, his hometown in North Lebanon, will be able to caress the face of the leader of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions (LARF), who was subjected to an unfair series of trials.
On Thursday, there were many reasons why Abdallah’s family was still concerned about his release, but the eyes of his eldest brother Joseph had a lot to say. The volatile revolutionary intellectual from Akkar had been looking for indicators about the French judiciary’s performance, ever since the court of conditional release accepted his brother’s eighth appeal – and decided to expel him from France – on 21 November 2012.
The most prominent sign was the speed with which the ruling judge agreed to set a date for the appeal of his latest decision. The appeal was made by the French justice ministry, which objected to Abdallah’s release under the flagrant directions of the US.
This was in addition to setting yesterday, 10 January 2013, as the date for announcing the final decision, four days prior to the date set by the courts for the foreign ministry to prepare for his expulsion from French territories.
Joseph, a sociology professor, called those who carried the banner of his brother’s release “brigands.” They are outcasts from their sects and parties who were the only ones to stand up to France while everyone else scrambled to attend the receptions at the French Ambassador’s residence on Bastille Day.
French authorities have always believed Georges’ brothers to be part of the “armed revolutionary groups in Lebanon.” They accused the Abdallah family of being behind the operation on Rennes street in Paris on 17 July 1986 when an Israeli diplomat and US military attaché were assassinated.
The accusation was a blatant lie, especially after the counter-terrorism investigations office at the Public Prosecution in Paris found that neither Abdallah nor his family members were implicated in the attack.
In his memoirs published in 2003, Avant de Tout Oublier, former counter-terrorism judge Alain Marsaud wrote: “Abdallah was originally indicted for something he did not do. After a short period, we got a hold of the evidence which put us on the right track and allowed us to identify those responsible for the 1986 attacks.”
“Blaming Fouad Saleh for the 1986 attacks led to an immediate lifting of pressure, and returned the situation of Georges Abdallah to its right position,” he wrote. “A few hours after the Rennes street attack, our investigations had led us to the Abdallah brothers and several witnesses who identified Abdallah’s brothers. But this confusion was immediately clarified: one of the bombers, called Habib Haidar, who was directly implicated in the Rennes street attack, had an uncanny resemblance to Emile Abdallah.”
On the heels of allegations that the Abdallah family was behind the attack and the announcement of a financial reward for information about their whereabouts, the family held a press conference in Kobayat.
According to Joseph, this put the French intelligence services in an awkward position. For the previous several hours, they had been promoting silly police tales about the family arriving in Paris, carrying out the operation, and then fleeing.
At the conference, the Abdallahs demanded that the financial reward be paid to the families of the victims of the attacks that Georges Abdallah was accused of being behind.
However, the family, which was involved in the resistance against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, does not deny that they did kidnap two Frenchmen in the mid 1980s to exchange them for Georges. But Lebanese and Syrian pressure prompted them to release the hostages.
Today, the family has many concerns about the future. Georges Abdallah is under threat of being assassinated in his French cell. He also needs to be provided with protection in his home country, which is wide open to all the planet’s intelligence services.
The assassination threats are not merely a theory. When William Casey was head of the CIA, he went to France to pressure the French government through its then-security minister Robert Pandraud.
In the 1991 book Les Masques du Terrorisme, Patrice de Méritens and Charles Villeneuve described a meeting over lunch between Casey and Pandraud: “William threatens Robert with a fork. The message is clear: if Abdallah does not receive a life sentence, the US will consider that France did not respect the basic rule of justice and failed to honor its commitments thereof, which will lead to a diplomatic boycott.
“A few seconds later came the typical reply: I have something better to propose to you, Pandraud coldly explained. Abdallah gets released. Then we send him to the Middle East and provide you with all the information about him.
“You, the US, this great country with all its networks in the region, will not find it difficult to eliminate him. And the matter will be put to rest forever.”
When Georges returns to his village, sheep will be slaughtered and the church bells will ring. There, he will be able to decide calmly how he will spend his days, which are bound to begin frantically and slowly quiet down. But he will not be too excited about going back to his job as a public school teacher and striking for a salary raise.