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Law Student Arrested in Terrorist Attacks in Israel

January 15, 1986 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ An American law student, wanted in Israel in several terrorist attacks against Arabs, was arrested by federal marshals Wednesday at a suburban university campus.

Craig Arthur Leitner, 24, was arrested in a dormitory at Pace University’s White Plains campus, said U.S. Marshal Victor Oboyski.

Leitner, who Oboyski said was affiliated with the Jewish Defense League, was being held on a warrant issued June 6, charging him with crimes that violate the United States treaty with Israel.

Leitner and four others were accused by the Israeli government of several terrorist acts, including an armed attack March 4, 1984, on a bus carrying Arab passengers to work near the West Bank village of Ramallah. Six Arabs civilians were injured during the incident in which the bus was sprayed with M-16 rifle fire.

He also was accused of pouring kerosene on several cars and a bus owned by Arabs in the West Bank city of Hebron and setting them afire during July and August 1983.

The Israeli government said Leitner also threw Molotov cocktails through the window of the Arab language newspaper Al Fajr in August 1983 and tried to throw two of the homemade bombs through the window of an Arab house in Jerusalem. The latter attack failed when both of the Molotov cocktails missed the window, hitting the wall of a house next door. There were no injuries.

Leitner and four others were arrested by Israeli police shortly after the March 1984 incident and charged with attempted murder, arson, attempted arson and conspiracy to commit a felony. Three of Leitner’s co-defendants pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced.

A fourth defendant, Yekutiel Govovsky, denied the charges and Leitner agreed to testify against his co-defendant, according to a complaint released by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

Leitner was released on bail but when it came time for him to testify, authorities learned he had fled to the United States.

Oboyski said U.S. marshals began looking for Leitner at his parents’ home in Queens. After learning he had not been there since last April, the marshals came upon information that he had enrolled as a first-year law student at Pace.

Oboyski said Leitner was arrested with the help of New York City police and members of the Brooklyn-Queens Fugitive Investigative Strike Team.

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He said Leitner had been arrested several times in the past in New York City on misdemeanor charges involving demonstrations against the Soviet Mission in Manhattan but has no known felony arrests.

Leitner was scheduled for arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Shira Scheindlin later Wednesday and was expected to be held until Israel files a formal extradition request. Israel has 60 days to do so.