Abu Nidal: was he colluding with the Saudis?

August 21, 2002


1. "Iraq: Abu Nidal shot himself in the mouth, died 8 hours later" (AP, August 21, 2002)
2. "Claims that Abu Nidal held talks with Saudis" (AP, August 21, 2002)
3. "Chronology of Abu Nidal's major attacks" (AP, August 20, 2002)
4. "Abu Nidal-Chronologie des Schreckens..." (Baltic News Watch)

[Note by Tom Gross]


I attach three articles, all from AP, and one item in German from Baltic News Watch, relating to the death earlier this week of Abu Nidal in Baghdad, and the claims by a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah that Nidal recently held talks with Saudi and Kuwaiti officials.

Nidal, previously head of the Fatah-Revolutionary Council, killed at least 275 people and wounded around 1000 more in dozens of attacks on mainly Israeli and American targets. These include the massacre of 22 Jewish worshipers during Sabbath services at the Neveh Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul on Sept. 6, 1986; the killing of six people in a grenade attack on the Jo Goldenberg restaurant in Paris's Jewish quarter on Aug. 9, 1982; the killing of 18 people at the El Al ticket desks at Rome and Vienna airports on Dec. 27, 1985; the killing of 88 people on a TWA flight from Israel to Greece Oct. 8, 1974; the killing of 32 passengers on board a Pan Am jet at Rome Airport on Dec. 17, 1973.

He also assassinated a number of Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian moderates. (There are a growing number of Germans and Austrians on my list, and I also attach a chronology of Nidal's attacks in German at the end of this email.)

-- Tom Gross



Iraq: Abu Nidal shot himself in the mouth, died 8 hours later
The Associated Press
August 21, 2002

Abu Nidal, formerly the world's most wanted terrorist, shot himself in the mouth as Iraqi officials waited to take him to court, the head of Iraqi intelligence said Wednesday.

Giving Iraq's first press conference on Abu Nidal, Tahir Jalil Haboush said the feared Palestinian extremist had entered Iraq illegally from Iran on a false Yemeni passport.

Iraq had never admitted hosting Abu Nidal until reports of his death in Baghdad emerged this week. Palestinian officials in the West Bank said Abu Nidal, whose real name was Sabri al-Banna, had been found dead in the Iraqi capital on Friday, his body riddled with bullets.

Haboush told reporters that an unidentified Arab state had informed his government in 1999 that Abu Nidal had entered Iraq. He did not give a more accurate date for Abu Nidal's entry.

He said Iraqi officials investigated Abu Nidal's whereabouts. When they found him, a group of security officers were sent to his apartment with orders to bring him to court.

Haboush did not explain why it took so long for Iraq to find Abu Nidal.

When the security officers arrived at his home, Abu Nidal said he needed to go to his bedroom to change his clothes. A shot was fired, and the officers found that Abu Nidal had shot himself in the mouth, Haboush said.

Abu Nidal was rushed to hospital where he died eight hours later.

Haboush was asked what day Abu Nidal died, but did not reply.



Claims that Abu Nidal held talks with Saudis
The Associated Press
August 21, 2002

Iraq Tuesday confirmed Abu Nidal's death, saying the feared Palestinian terrorist leader had committed suicide.

Baghdad's first official confirmation of his death came amid claims that Abu Nidal recently held talks with Saudi and Kuwaiti agents and that plans for an American attack on Iraq were found in his Baghdad apartment.

The claims, made yesterday by a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah, were quickly rejected by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

But these reports and the murky circumstances surrounding Abu Nidal's death he is said to have suffered several gunshot wounds fueled speculation outside Iraq concerning his final days.

"Yes, I confirm his suicide and an official will give you full details [today]," Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz told reporters yesterday without elaborating.

Abu Nidal who had targeted Israel, Palestinian Liberation Organization figures, and Arab officials for associating with Israelis is widely believed to have been living in Baghdad since sometime in 1999.

On Monday, two senior Palestinian officials in the West Bank said Abu Nidal had been found dead of gunshot wounds last Friday in his Baghdad house.

The officials suggested Abu Nidal had committed suicide, but they did not explain how he could have shot himself several times. Yesterday, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah said Abu Nidal had been in contact with Saudi and Kuwaiti officials before committing suicide.

The Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that Iraqi intelligence agents had been following Abu Nidal to check on his alleged dealings with the Gulf states.

The official did not elaborate on the substance of the contacts, but said Iraqi intelligence arrested three of Abu Nidal's men early last week before raiding his Baghdad house late Wednesday.

The raid sparked clashes between the agents and Abu Nidal's guards, two of whom were wounded, the official said.

Abu Nidal ran into another room where he committed suicide, the Palestinian official said.

The Iraqi agents later found classified documents concerning an American attack on Iraq in Abu Nidal's house, the official said without elaborating on the documents.

Agents arrested three more of Abu Nidal's men, since releasing two.

"Kuwait has never had anything to do with him [Abu Nidal]," Khaled al-Jarrah, the undersecretary of the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry, told the AP in Kuwait. "We find such reports surprising. They are absolutely baseless."

A Saudi official in Riyadh, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AP that Saudi Arabia had never contacted Abu Nidal, whose real name was Sabri al-Bana.

A senior Iraqi official reportedly told CNN earlier yesterday that Abu Nidal killed himself after Iraqi agents accused him of conspiring with anti-Iraqi forces.

Iraqi officials have not commented on Abu Nidal's alleged links to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

In London, the Iraqi National Accord released a statement saying it had learned Saddam had ordered his intelligence apparatus to "finish... Abu Nidal because he holds vital information." The accord, which was involved in an unsuccessful 1996 coup attempt against the Iraqi president, did not elaborate.

The radical faction that Abu Nidal formed which went by the name Fatah-Revolutionary Council killed at least 275 people and wounded hundreds more in dozens of attacks on American airliners, airports, sidewalk cafes, and synagogues. He was also regarded as a gun for hire, offering his violent services during the past 30 years to various governments.



Chronology of Abu Nidal's major attacks
The Associated Press
August 20, 2002

Abu Nidal's radical Palestinian faction has been blamed for killing or wounding about 1,000 people in 20 countries since 1973. The following are some of the best known.

• Jan. 29, 1994 Abu Nidal followers shoot dead Jordanian diplomat Naeb Imran Maaytah outside his embassy in Beirut. Abu Nidal and two other men are sentenced to death in absentia by a Jordanian court; two other defendants are captured and also face the death penalty.

• Jan. 16, 1991 Two days before the Gulf War begins, Abu Nidal's terrorists kill two of PLO leader Yasser Arafat's top aides: Salah Khalaf, Arafat's long-time deputy, and Hayel Abdel-Hamid, the PLO's security chief. Khalaf's chief bodyguard also dies in the raid on Khalaf's home in Tunis, the PLO's headquarters-in-exile.

• July 11, 1988 Five gunmen attack the Greek cruise ship City of Poros, killing nine people and wounding 98. French authorities later issue arrest warrants for four Abu Nidal operatives.

• Sept. 6, 1986 Two gunmen posing as photographers machine-gun the Neveh Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul during the morning Shabbat service, killing 22 Jewish worshipers and wounding six.

• Sept. 5, 1986 A Pan Am jumbo jet carrying 358 people is hijacked at Karachi Airport. Twenty people are killed when security forces storm the Boeing 747.

• April 2, 1986 A bomb explodes aboard a TWA Boeing 727 as the plane approaches Athens airport. Four passengers are sucked out through a hole in fuselage and plummet to their deaths.

• Dec. 27, 1985 Eighteen people are killed and 120 wounded in simultaneous attacks on El Al ticket desks at Rome and Vienna airports by seven Abu Nidal gunmen.

• Nov. 23, 1985 An Egyptian airliner with 97 passengers is hijacked to Malta by four gunmen. Six passengers are slain before Egyptian commandos storm the plane the next day. Sixty passengers die in the shootout.

• July 11, 1985 Two bombs kill eight people and wound 89 in Kuwait. The attack is seen as part of Abu Nidal's campaign to blackmail the Gulf Arab states into paying him not to attack them.

• April 10, 1983 Issam Sartawi, a leading PLO moderate and Yasser Arafat's main link to Israeli left-wingers, is shot dead during a Socialist International conference in Lisbon. Abu Nidal claims responsibility.

• Aug. 9, 1982 Two gunmen kill six people and wound 22 in a grenade and automatic weapons attack on the Goldenburg restaurant in Paris's Jewish quarter.

• June 18, 1982 Kamel Hussein, head of the PLO's Rome office and a close associate of Arafat, is killed when his booby-trapped car explodes in the Italian capital.

• June 2, 1982 Israel's ambassador in London, Shlomo Argov, is critically wounded by gunmen. The three-man hit team is captured. Israel uses the assassination attempt as the pretext to invade Lebanon to crush the PLO three days later.

• Feb. 18, 1978 Three months after Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's historic peace visit to Jerusalem, his old friend Yusuf al-Sibai is shot dead by two gunmen while attending a conference in Nicosia, Cyprus. The killers seize hostages and try to hijack a plane at Larnaca airport. Fifteen Egyptian commandos, sent to help end the siege, are gunned down at the airport by Cypriot national guardsmen because of botched communications.

• Oct. 8, 1974 A TWA airliner flying from Israel to Greece is blown up by a bomb over the Aegean Sea, killing all 88 people aboard.

• Dec. 17, 1973 Five terrorists set a Pan Am jet on fire at Rome Airport with thermite bombs, killing 32 passengers.



Abu Nidal-Chronologie des Schreckens...
Baltic News Watch

Juli 1980 – Abu Nidals Gruppe ermordet israelischen Handelsdelegierten in Brüssel.

Mai 1981 – Ermordung des Präsidenten der österr.-israelischen Gesellschaft Heinz Nittel.

August 1981 – Angriff auf die Synagoge in der Seitenstettengasse in Wien 2 Tote und 17 Verletzte.

Juni 1982 – Versuchter Mord an den israelischen Dipolmaten Shlomo Argov in London. Auslöser des Krieges im Libanon.

Juni 1982 – PLO -Vertreter Husayn Kamal in Rom wird durch eine Autobombe getötet.

August 1982 – 6 Tote und 22 Verletzte nach einem Granatenanschlag auf ein kosheres Restaurant in Paris.

August 1982 – Mordversuch am Konsul der Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate in Bombay.

August 1982 – Schussattentat auf einen Vertreter der VAE in Kuwait.

September 1982 – Dipolmat aus Kuwait wird in Madrid ermordet.

Oktober 1982 – Anschlag auf Synagoge in Rom-1 Toter, 10 Verletzte.

April 1983 – Issam Sartawi, Vertrauter Arafats wird bei Konferenz der Sozialistischen Internationale in Lissabon erschossen.

Oktober 1983 – Mordversuch an jordanischen Botschafter in Rom.

Oktober 1983 – Jordnischer Botschafter in Indien wird schwer verletzt.

November 1983 – Wachen bei jordanischer Botschaft in Athen werden angegriffen, 1 Toter, 1 Verletzter.

Dezember 1983 – Französisches Kulturinstitut in IzTnir in der Türkei angegriffen.

März 1984 – Britischer Diplomat in Athen ermordet.

November 1984 – British High Commissioner in Bombay, Indien ermordet.

Dezember 1984 – Ismail Darwish, ein Berater Arafats wird in Rom ermordet.

Dezember 1984 – Jordanischer Diplomat in Bucharest ermordet.

März 1985 – Britischer Journalist Alec Collett wird entführt und angeblich ein Jahr danach ermordet.

März 1985 – Angriff auf jordanische Fluglinie in Rom, gleichzeitig ähnliche Angriffe in Athen und Nicosia.

Juli 1985 – British Airways Büro in Madrid zerstört, eine Frau wird getötet, 27 verletzt. Fünf Minuten später wird das Büro der jordanischen Fluglinie in Madrid angegriffen, zwei Verletzte sind die Folge.

September 1985 – Angriff auf Cafe de Paris in Rom, es werden 38 Menschen verletzt.

September 1985 – Entführung einer Egyptian Air-Maschine nach Malta,60 Tote bei Befreiungsversuch ägyptischer Einheiten.

Dezember 1985 – Angriff auf Schalter der EL AL in Wien und Rom Insgesamt werden 16 Menschen getötet, darunter ein Kind, 60 Verletzte sind zu beklagen.

September 1986 – PAN AM Flug 73 in Karachi entführt, 17 Tote, über 150 Verletzte.

September 1986 – Bei Angriff auf Synagoge in Istanbul werden 22 Betende getötet.

Juli 1987 – Bombe bei einem Restaurant in Qalqilya in der West Bank, (London) Evening Standard werden 15 Personen verletzt.

März 1988 – Angriff auf Alitalia Maschine in Bombay-Kapitän wird schwer verwundet.

Mai 1988 – Eine Bombe explodiert in Nicosia, Zypern in der Nähe der israelischen Botschaft. 3 Tote und 17 Verletzte sind die Folge. Abu NIdals Leute behaupten damit Abu Jihads Tötung zu rächen.

Mai 1988 – In Khartum, Sudan werden das Hotel Acropole und der Sudan Club angegriffen. 8 Personen werden getötet, 21 durch die Schüsse der Attentäter verletzt.Fünf britische unter den Toten und fünf US-Bürger unter den Verletzten.

Am "Höhepunkt" seines mörderischen Wirkens zählte Abu Nidals Truppe um die 500 Mitglieder. Diese wird für insgesamt 900 Todesopfer verantwortlich gemacht. Nach Angaben der pal. Behörden entzog sich Abu Nidal alias Sabri Al Banna durch Selbstmord einer Verhaftung.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.