U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) announced today that she has spearheaded a bipartisan letter calling on the French government to not release a convicted terrorist who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of an American and an Israeli diplomat.
The letter, which was sent to France's Ambassador to the United States, urges French officials to stop the release of George Ibrahim Abdallah, the former head of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Brigade who was convicted in 1987 for killing an Israeli diplomat and a U.S. military attaché. He was also found guilty for the attempted murder of a U.S. Consul General.
A French appeals court recently granted conditional release to Abdallah contingent on his being deported to Lebanon. But the decision of deportation rests with the French Foreign Ministry. Therefore, the French government has the power to ensure that Abdallah is neither released nor returned to Lebanon.
"As we continue to grieve the loss of Ambassador Stevens, we cannot stand idly by while an ally frees the murderer of another American in diplomatic service," said Meng, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "Abdallah's life sentence was necessary when given in 1987, and recent events have reaffirmed the appropriateness of this sentence. If released to Lebanon, Abdallah could very well resume his acts of terror, and target citizens of France, the United States, and other allied nations. We must stand firm and united against the threat of terrorism. Abdullah must remain locked-up for the rest of his life."
Meng, who took office 3 1/2 weeks ago, amassed a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress for the letter. She secured a total of 21 signatures (including her own). It is the second time since being sworn-in that she has reached across the aisle to lead an important bipartisan initiative (the first being her legislation to make houses of worship eligible for Hurricane Sandy aid from FEMA).
The letter's signatories include: Meng, Frank Wolf (R-VA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Steve Israel (D-NY), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Randy Weber (R-TX), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Lois Frankel (D-FL).
The U.S. State Department opposes Abdallah's release as well.