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Abu Nidal: Chameleon of Change, a.k.a. Terrorism's Free Agent
By GlobalSecurityStudies.com
Winter 2013
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  • Palestinian politician and terrorist leader
  • Founded the Fatah Revolutionary Council
  • Lived in Iraq as a guest of Saddam Hussein

 

Born in 1937, Abu Nidal was a Palestinian politician and terrorist leader whose real name was Sabri al Banna. During the last quarter of the Twentieth Century, he was active in various terrorist attacks in the Middle East, not only against American and Israeli interests, but also against fellow Palestinians and other Arab leaders as well.

Originally Nidal was part of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization. Under the name "Black September," Nidal and a group of accomplices were responsible for the infamous "Munich massacre during the September 1972 Olympic games in Germany, when they kidnapped and murdered eleven Israeli athletes and officials as well as a German police officer.

When the Palestine Liberation Organization softened its tone and began negotiating with Israel (though it continued perpetrating terrorist attacks), Nidal broke away and started his own terrorist group, the Fatah Revolutionary Council. Condemned to death by Arafat, Nidal and his organization arranged attacks against Fatah members as well as Western targets; one such attack killed one of Arafat’s closest lieutenants in Tunisia. By that time, Nidal was operating out of Syria. But Syria eventually came under international pressure to clamp down on Nidal’s group after it had committed airplane hijackings and other terror attacks, many against synagogues. Nidal then moved to Libya.

He later took his organization to Iraq, where he was the guest of Saddam Hussein. Nidal was alleged to have committed suicide there in 2002, but there is speculation that he was killed on orders of Saddam Hussein – either because he refused to train al Qaeda fighters who had joined Ansar al-Islam in Northern Iraq, or because he was involved in a plot to overthrow Hussein.

 

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