what you didn't know - bunch of animals

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    This web site draws some interesting e-mail and comment from knowledgeable people who read it. On February 10, 2002, I received a call from Jim Welsh in Oregon (James J. Welsh), who had noticed that I covered the PLO uprising in Jordan in 1970 (from which came Black September, Yasser Arafat's terrorist arm) and the October War in Egypt in 1973, and I did not believe Arafat's denial that his men had killed Major Robert Perry in Amman in 1970.

    Did I have any direct information on Arafat's 1973 murders in Khartoum, Sudan, of U.S. Ambassador Cleo A. Noel Jr., Charge George Curtis Moore, and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid?

    I had no direct knowledge. All I remembered off-hand was that Israeli intelligence had intercepted a radio-telephone call in which PLO boss Arafat ordered the murders.

    Not exactly, Welsh said. It was the National Security Agency that intercepted the calls, a series of them, but that had been suppressed.

    Welsh had recently left a NSA listening post on Cyprus where the calls were recorded and was at NSA headquarters. He was a Navy technician and NSA analyst, an Arabic speaker and expert on the PLO. A colleague on Cyprus called him to tell him of the first call on February 28, 1973, from a transmitter at Shatila refugee camp near Beirut.

    Shatila was for a time PLO headquarters, and in 1970 West German Communist terrorists had trained there -- the East Berlin-backed Baader-Meinhof gang, or Red Army Faction. Their key members committed suicide in a West German prison when repeated hostage-taking vemtures failed to free them. A dozen years later, in September 1982, then-General Ariel Sharon invaded Lebanon in response to PLO attacks and drove to Beirut, forcing Arafat to flee to Tunisia, under protection of the Ronald Reagan administration. In three days in 1982, Sept. 16-18, 2,700 Palestinians by Red Cross estimate were killed in two camps, Sabra and Shatila, by Christian Phalange troops who were losing the civil war that the PLO arrival from Jordan had triggered in Lebanon. Sharon was blamed although Israeli troops stayed out of the camps.

    That intercepted February 28 message was from Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad), assistant to Arafat and head of Black September in Lebanon, to Khalil al-Wazir in Khartoum. Khalaf was No. 2 in Arafat's Fatah, a close friend since the two Egyptians were classmates in Cairo, where Arafat was head of the Palestinian Student League. The name Abu Iyad was notorious in 1973 as the overall leader of Black September when it sent a group to kidnap and murder 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games. Mohammed Oudeh (Abu Daoud) was the off-scene mastermind of the Olympics hostage taking, as he claimed in an autobiography published in France, and he lived on the run between countries for years before settling in Jordan, but Salah Khalaf was his superior. Khalaf was assassinated in Tunis in 1991 by bodyguards of the PLO's Abu al-Hawl, who also was killed that night. The gunman was believed to belong to Abu Nidal's organization, which was challenging Fatah for leadership of the Palestinians. Through the 70s, the PLO was an unruly coalition of competing gangs, and the revolt against King Hussein in 1970 was not so much directed at the king as it was Arafat's effort to shut out of an Irbid-based Palestinian nation the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine of Dr. George Habash and Waddia Haddad, which had upstaged Fatah with its multiple aircraft hijackings and was doing better than Fatah recruiting in the refugee camps. Waddia Haddad, the father of PLO terrorism who assigned the hijack teams, died of cancer in East Berlin's Charite Hospital.

    In the 1973 phone call, Abu Iyad was instructing Wazir in Khartoum to raid with eight Black September guerrillas the Saudi Embassy party for departing U.S. Charge George Curtis Moore, an Arabist popular with most Arabs, who was being replaced by Ambassador Noel, and to seize the Americans.

    Welsh belives that Wazir supplied the weapons, brought into Sudan in a Libyan diplomatic pouch -- more wheels within wheels == but was not one of the eight murderers.

    Welsh said the NSA director, the late Air Force General Sam Phillips, was notified by Frank Raven, and a FLASH warning was sent to the State Department for relay to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. It may have been delayed at State (or at NSA) when someone in the bureaucracy downgraded its urgency.

    The next day, March 1, the eight guerrillas armed with pistols and what were described in a State Department cable as submachineguns (probably Kalashnikovs) took more than a half dozen hostages at the Saudi reception. News reports said they demanded the release of Sirhan Sirhan, convicted assassin of Robert Kennedy, and others jailed in Israel and Egypt. President Nixon refused to negotiate with the guerrillas.

    Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeiri, who had led an Arab League mediation team in Amman in 1970, was absent from Khartoum, held in Juma by bad flying weather. Nimeiri, a military dictator and strong PLO supporter, had been seeking good relations with the United States, and had proposed in 1972 to Secretary Rogers and Special Envoy Joe Sisco getting friendly Arabs, like the Saudis, Kuwsitis, and Libyans (!) to talk Answar Sadat into negotiations with the Israelis. State was responding to his gestures, and Nimeiri doubled the Sudanese interest section in Washington, so he was being treated with kid gloves.

    Abu Iyad telephoned the order to murder three of the hostages and release the others, saying "Remember Nahr al-Bard (translation: Cold River). The people's blood in Nahr al-Bard cries out for vengeance." The reference was to a terrorist camp raided by Israel 11 days earlier that killed the terrorists of the Munich massacre who had escaped the Munich shootout.

    Another recorded message on March 2 was from Arafat himself to Salim Rizak (Abu Ghassan), operational commander of the killers, to confirm that he understood that the code "Cold River" meant executing the hostages. Rizak reported that the executions already had been carried out. The murders were sadistic, 40 bullets fired into the three diplomats from near the floor level upward to ensure agonizing deaths, according to Inside the PLO, by Neil Livingstone and David Halevy (Quill/Morrow, New York, 1990). First the victims were told to write wills and farewell messages to their families, according to Holger Jensen, who was in Khartoum for AP.

    Another message from Arafat said "your mission is over," and instructed Rizak to surrender to Sudanese officials, which was done at six a.m. March 4. Two were immediately released "for lack of evidence," and six others were tried in June, convicted of murder, but later released to PLO custody and flown out of the country.

    Welsh said that the State Department had sealed or purged records at the National Archives, perhaps for reasons of state, but since he returned home and left NSA in 1974, he has felt increasing urgency to break his oath of secrecy. He felt he could not remain silent about the NSA evidence, especially after President Clinton invited Arafat to the White House, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright held hands with Arafat, and Hillary kissed Arafat's wife. He is certain that the tape recordings of the radio-telephone calls still exist, but no one will officially acknowledge them.

    In 1989 Senator Jesse Helms learned that the State Department was negotiating with the PLO, and in fact with Salah Khalaf, who had become a diplomat. Helms tried to get the Senate to adopt an amendment to prevent the United States from negotiating with the terrorist PLO. Welsh informed Joseph Farah, who published an extensive report on WorldNetDaily.com on April 17, 2001. Welsh also filled in the New York Post in December 2001 on the story that had been suppressed by the State Department and every President since Nixon.

    * * *
    In Spring 1973 the dominant news story in the United States was Watergate, as Gordon Liddy, Howard Hunt and the burglars on March 23 were sentenced to long prison terms and the focus of investigation narrowed to Nixon. Biographer Richard Reeves said on TV that by April 1973, Nixon knew he was finished. The Middle East story that year was the October War, launched by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and the OPEC oil boycott of the United States and The Netherlands (Europe's refinery center) by Saudi Arabia, whose King Faisal secretly had promised Sadat such support if his war went awry, according to Arnaud de Borchgrave, then of Newsweek. Sadat lost his war, then won anyway, when Menachem Begin gave him back the Sinai -- "every grain of sand" -- as Sadat demanded, but Sadat then was murdered, not by Israelis, but by the Muslim Brotherhood, his own people.

    Arafat, in Lebanon, played no role in the 1973 war and was a sideshow, all but ignored by a media concentrated on Watergate, while the Soviet Union, wounded by Nixon's opening to China, was a major player, first building Egypt's SAM missile sites that almost won the war, then being ordered out of Egypt by Sadat, then coming back in -- if they ever left. The Nixon administration received little support from NATO allies when Nixon went to Israel's aid. Willy Brandt, West Germany's first Socialist chancellor, who had released the three surviving Black September killers of the Israeli Olympics athletes the year before, denied refueling rights for replacement aircraft Nixon was sending to Israel, so Phantom jets were refueled in the air over the Azores on their way to the Sinai.

    I had covered the 1972 Munich massacre for the New York Daily News in September 1972, when five Bavarian Police sharpshooters took on the eight terrorists with their 11 hostages at Fuerstenfeldbruck airport, and I also covered the release in October of three Black September guerrillas when Black September promptly hijacked a Lifthansa plane over Turkey with 23 aboard. The hijackers ordered the plane to Munich to demand the three killers' release, then on to Zagreb, Yugoslavia, wary of Bavarian police on the ground. Brandt's government flew the three killers to Zagreb by executive jet, where they joined the captive Lufthansa people and were flown to Mohammar Khadafi's Libya. The three freed killers were Ibrahim Masud Dudran, 20, Samer Mohammed Abdullah, 22, and Abdel Kadir Dnawy, 21.

    In February-March 1973, when the Khartoum atrocity occurred, William Rogers was Secretary of State, his authority somewhat undermined when he was cut out from the Nixon-Kissinger negotiations to open China. In September 1973, Kissinger became Secretary of State just in time to be faced by the October War and the surprise that Sadat and Syria's Hafez Assad had been able to keep secrecy in coordinating their attacks on Israel. Jim Welsh suspects that Kissinger suppressed the tapes, transcripts and documents relating to the Khartoum murders, although the information was withheld for months before he took over the State Department.

    In February 2002 I spent several days at the National Archives searching State Department and then NSC documents on the murder of Ambassador Noel, and concluded that Welsh was correct in saying the records have been purged. I was directed to four file-boxes in which Noel's material was archived, along with unrelated matters of that time frame. In two boxes there were file folders on Noel, each about one-inch thick, almost entirely messages of condolences and thank-you letters from Secretary of State Rogers acknowledging them. Deputy Undersecretary William Macomber Jr. headed a task force on Khartoum, but I found no task force reports in the Sudan boxes. (But there were Macomber documents in National Security Council box 666, labled Black September Organization, not pointed out by NARA.)

    I found only about a dozen telegrams on the Khartoum developments themselves, not the stack of paper I expected for an event of this magnitude, which was Page One on newspapers all over the world for a few days. The scanty documents of interest including one FLASH message reporting the hostage taking, and one SECRET State Department chronology of the event written on March 1, before the hostages were murdered, but no follow-up. One telegram outlined State policy as avoiding the use of force in any rescue attempt and stalling to wear down the terrorists.

    The few sheets of paper on the seizure of Noel, Moore, Eid, plus Saudi, Jordanian and Spanish diplomats, who were released, contained scraps of information, some contradictory. The chronology, for example, reports that the Spanish diplomat said the terrorists demanded that the United States turn over to them King Hussein of Jordan, which I do not remember seeing in news reports. It also said among terrorists demands was the release of German terrorists. (I covered the Baader-Meinhof gang, although my newspaper did not use much of my material, and Andreas Baader, Jan Carl Raspe, and Gudrun Ensslin did in fact kill themselves in prison after another aircraft hijacking in 1977 failed to release them, after Ulrike Meinhof killed herself a year earlier.) The archive also revealed that Noel and Moore were put on the telephone to the State Department, where they repeated the terrorists's demands, Moore giving a long list of Jordanian prisoners to be released, but two notes on these phone messages are one page each, appear incomplete, and did not mention either King Hussein or the Germans.

    I received good cooperation from Milton Gustafson at the State Department archives, who went out of his way to telephone me at home to say he had found Noel material in boxes classified under the heading PER as well as POL.

    I received little help from the National Archives' Nixon Project, where Dmitri Reavis, the Project member available, refused any cooperation. The Project director, Karl Weissenbach, whom I reached days later, said that the Nixon tapes I requested, March 1-3, 1973, by court order will not be released until 2004, but he would try to find other documents referring to Arafat's taped telephone orders.

    The Nixon Project, an archive within the National Archives created when Congress confiscated Nixon's papers, eventually produced three boxes containing Sudan folders, but they had been thoroughly purged. Normally an archivist delivers boxes within 45 minutes, but I waited an hour and a half for two of three requested boxes. The third box took two hours and a second request with the notation for the archivist to call the Nixon Project.

    The delayed National Security Council box had a Sudan folder with no files in it, only a sheaf of pages, each stating "This file has been removed." Missing were files labled 1-11, 22, 25-28, and higher numbers filed in 1974. Also missing were all the files in between these numbers, without removal slips. It looked like monkey business in the National Archives.

    On my own, I found NSC box 666. which contained several folders on Black September. Two folders were empty, except for withdrawal slips indicating at least 70 documents had been removed, including 25 CIA situation reports.

    One CIA report survived the purge, because it was enclosed in a message from Secretary of State Rogers sent March 13, 1973 to selected U.S. embassies, suggesting they circulate its information to foreign governments "orally only," due to its sensitivity. This lone CIA report shows that the CIA, Rogers, Sisco and many at State understood Arafat's connection.

    "Begin text. The Black September Organization (BSO) is a cover term for Fatah's terrorist operations executed by Fatah's intellgence organization, Jihaz al-Rasd. The collapse of Fatah's guerrilla efforts led Fatah to clandestine terrorism against Israel and countries friendly to it. Fatah's funds, facilities and personnel are used in these operations. There is evidence that the "BSO" operation in Khartoum was carried out with substantial help from Fatah's Khartoum office and applauded by Fatah radio stations in Cairo and Beirut. In addition, Fatah Deputy Chief Salah Khalaf, chief of "BSO," gets an independent subsity from the Libyan government.

    "For all intents and purposes no significant distinction now can be made between the BSO and Fatah. Four of Fatah's 10-man command, including Khalaf, the planner and director of the Munich and Khartoum operations, are identified as "BSO" leaders. Fatah leader Yasir Arafat has now been described in recent intelligence reports as having given approval to the Khartoum operation prior to its inception.

    "Arafat continues to disavow publicly any connection between Fatah and terrorist operations. Similarly, Fatah maintains its pretense of moderation vis-a-vis the Arab governments, a pose which most of these governments find convenient for their public position toward the Palestinian cause. It seems certain also that some elements within Fatah are opposed to terrorism, and the chaotic state of the whole fedayeen movement assures factionalism, power struggles, and unclear lines of command. Nontheless, the Fatah leadership including Arafat now seem clearly committed to terrorism. End text."

    State had the right idea in attempting to notify NATO and Arab nations that Arafat was behind the murders, but the method, word of mouth, banning any documentary proof, is weird. For NARA to continue to withhold so many documents and thereby protect Arafat borders on the criminal.

    I found no reference in the National Archives to a NSA telephone intercept, never officially acknowledged to exist, and although Isreal has repeatedly confirmed publicly it intercepted Arafat's orders, there is no reference to that information either. Welsh said his Freedom of Information requests have been denied.

    Welsh suggested that Arafat's ordering the Khartoum killings was suppressed to avoid further exacerbating relations with Saudi Arabia, which is credible because the United States took no action to retaliate against the Saudi oil boycott of the Nixon administration.

    There is no mention of the Khartoum murders nor of Ambassador Noel in the indexes of Nixon's RN or in Kissinger's White House Years.

    Saudi oil appeared decisive in the continued coverup of Arafat's murders, as the effects of the oil boycott contributed to the one-sided votes to impeach Nixon in the House Judiciary Committee. It was a warning to subsequent Presidents not to monkey with the Saudis.

    As a result, Arafat has for 35 years been the PLO's commanding extortionist, kidnaper, and murderer, and the worst calamity ever to befall the Palestinian people.

    President George W. Bush should break off relations with the Palestinian Authority so long as Arafat remains in charge, and the Justice Department should issue the long-suppressed subpoenas for Arafat on specific murder charges.

    Arafat's crew should be ordered out of this country, including his spokesman Hassan Abdel Rahman, who appears often on Fox TV mouthing such absurd charges as "Israel created Hamas," the terrorist group. Years ago I disputed with Rahman on a New York local TV show,

    I don't know what the United States should de about Saudi Arabia, which has financed Arafat for 35 years and other terrorists including Usama bin Laden all these years. Washington has considered the Saudi royal family moderate, and it had shared the Allah-given wealth more or less fairly with its citizens, but that is less clear with each year. It has not been in the interest of the United States to have a revolution in Saudi Arabia, certainly not a Marxist revolution, nor a fundamentalist Islamic revolution, nor a takeover by Iraq. However, the Saudi reaction to President George Bush Senior's rescuing their country when Iraq's Saddam Hussein seized Kuwait and then set its oil fields afire has not been encouraging.

    Gratitude is unknown to the present guardians of Islam.


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