Americans have a right to be outraged over the softness that Greece keeps displaying toward international terrorism.

That's because such softness is bound to encourage more terrorist attacks in which Americans are often the target. And because three Americans have been killed in nine terrorist attacks since 1975 in Greece, where authorities have yet to make any arrests in the cases.The latest display of flabbiness on Athens' part came the other day when the Greek government released a Palestinian member of the infamous Abu Nidal terrorist gang and let him go to Libya, the main base of such cutthroats.

In thus freeing Abdel Osama el-Zomar, the Greek government broke an extradition agreement with Italy, which wanted to try him for a submachine-gun and grenade attack on a Rome synagogue in 1982 that killed a two-year-old boy and wounded 37 people. The release of el-Zomar also disregarded a ruling by the Greek supreme court that had been confirmed by the previous minister of justice.

Athens is trying to excuse this outrage with the lame excuse that el-Zomar's actions in Italy were not criminal but fell "within the domain of the struggle to regain the independence of his homeland."

This puts Greece in the position of saying that while terrorists may be jailed in Athens for carrying a concealed weapon there, as el-Zomar did, it's all right for them to murder Jews in another country.

It isn't the first time Greek authorities have acted spinelessly toward the Abu Nidal gang. Last June, Athens refused a U.S. request for the extradition of Mohammed Rashid, a suspect in the mid-flight bombing of two American airliners in which five people were killed.

This sorry record lends credence to official suspicions in Washington that Athens reached an understanding with Nidal by which his gang would not attack targets in Greece in return for Greek authorities going easy on his thugs as they passed through that country in pursuit of their murderous business.