A powerful bomb rocked an elegant shopping gallery on the Champs-Elysees during the morning rush. Eight shoppers were wounded. The following day, an Islamic terrorist group calling itself the "Committee of Solidarity with the Arab and Middle East Political Prisoners (CSAMEPP)" claimed responsibility for the bombing in a letter to Agence France-Presse.
Hours later, a second bomb was found in a public lavatory on the third floor of the Eiffel Tower. It was defused 90 minutes before it had been timed to go off. There were 100 tourists on the tower at the time and many of them would have been killed.
A few hours after the Eiffel Tower bomb was defused, a third bomb was detonated in a crowded bookstore in the popular Latin Quarter tourist area. Four more people were injured by this blast. The Committee of Solidarity with the Arab and Middle East Political Prisoners (CSPPA) claimed responsibility for it as well.
CSAMEPP was initially thought to be a pseudonym for the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction (LARF) because the perpetrators demanded the release of several LARF terrorists who were being held in French jails. Each had attacked pro-Shah Iranian, American, or Jewish targets. Among those whose release was sought was Anis Naccache. He was incarcerated for killing two people while attempting to assassinate the former Iranian Prime Minister, Shahpur Bakhtiar, in Paris in 1980. They sought Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese Shia Muslim who was charged with complicity in the assassination of an American military attaché (U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ray on January 18th, 1982) and an Israeli diplomat (Yacov Barsimantov on April 3rd, 1982). This being the case, insurgent groups in Lebanon were blamed in the French media.
However, in the summer of 1987, evidence was brought forth to implicate the Iranian government itself, demonstrating that the Shia clerics ruling Iran were directly involved in the Paris bombings. Thirty-four members of the Shia fundamentalist group Hizballah (Hezbollah), who had been residing in France, were arrested. At the time, the French Interior Minister accused the Ayatollah Khomeini of having personally directed the bombing campaign in France. If true, the most fundamentalist Islamic regime on earth had once again sponsored the use of terrorism, directly implicating the religion of Islam.
The CSPPA was a group of Paris-based Shiite Muslims who were all member of Allah's Party, known as Hezbollah. They reported directly to the Iranian Islamic theocracy. Their 1985 and 1986 bombings of public places in Paris killed 13 people and injured over 300 more.
The bombings were perpetrated to influence French foreign policy towards the Iranian nuclear program. The Iranian government hoped to accelerate negotiations over a one billion dollar financial claim it had against the French. The Iranians had advanced French firms $1 billion to finish and fuel a nuclear reactor that had been part of the American "Atoms for Peace" program during the Ford administration. But the French had pocketed the money without fulfilling their contractual obligations. Further, the Iranians wanted to induce the French government to stop providing arms to its enemy Iraq, and also to gain the release of jihadists linked to Hezbollah and the Iranian government. In a culture where life is meaningless and power is everything, killing innocent people to influence armament policy seemed moral and just in the eyes of the Islamic religious regime.
Initially, French authorities accused the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction (LARF) of committing these crimes. But then in early 1987, investigators learned from an informer that the attacks had been carried out by a group of Shiite Muslims based in an Islamic school in a Paris suburb. The religious institution was run by Shia imam Fouad Ben Ali Saleh. Subsequent wiretaps led investigators to suspect Wahid Gordji, a translator at Iran's Paris Embassy, of coordinating the attacks. In June, French authorities subpoenaed Gordji. When French police went to his home to arrest him, he had fled to the Iranian Embassy in Paris. This led to a six-month standoff in which French police surrounded the complex.
Although Gordji was not registered as a diplomat and therefore did not have immunity, the Iranian government argued that Gordji was protected as a member of their embassy staff. During the standoff, an Iranian official claimed Gordji was the Deputy Chief of the Embassy.
In response, Iranian police surrounded the French Embassy in Tehran. The two countries severed diplomatic relations in July and Hizballah took several French citizens hostage. The standoff ended in November 1987 when Gordji was briefly interviewed by French authorities before being freed to fly off to Iran. The French hostages in Lebanon were released shortly thereafter and full diplomatic relations were restored in June 1988.
Iran claimed that France expedited the repayment of the one billion dollar advance it had made. The imams also claimed that the French had agreed to crack down on pro-Shah activity in France. The Ayatollah said that the French paid a multi-million dollar ransom to the Lebanese kidnappers of French citizens. However, French Prime Minister Jacque Chirac, not wanting to look like he capitulated, denied that any deal was made and that these things were all unrelated.
In 1992, seven years after the fact, Fouad Ben Ali Saleh, the religious and scholastic leader of the Islamic student network that carried out the bombings, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role. Two accomplices were also jailed for life, and a third received a 20-year sentence. Several Lebanese citizens were tried in absentia because they had fled the country.