Hisham Harb

Hisham Harb


* Member of the Abu Nidal Organization terrorist group

Born in the early to mid-1950s, Hisham Harb was a senior member of the Special Missions Committee of the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) during the 1980s. He played a major role in a pair of simultaneous December 1985 attacks in which ANO gunmen opened fire on passengers at El Al airport ticket counters in Rome and Vienna, killing 18 and wounding 120.

In the 1980s as well, Harb served as a mentor and guide to a Palestinian member of ANO named Hussein Jorde Abdallah (“Jorde”), a man who was in his late twenties at the time. “Could you kill a man if we asked you to?” Harb inquired of Jorde on one occasion, to which Jorde replied that he would indeed obey whatever orders he was given. Upon hearing this, Harb gave Jorde an expensive Nikon camera equipped with a powerful zoom lens which he could use for all manner of ANO assignments. “You’re a talented man,” Harb told Jorde. “We’re going to use you for ten years. After that, you’ll be free to go your own way.”

During Jorde’s earliest days with ANO, Harb sent him out to perform a variety of tasks such as: (a) photographing potential future target sites like Israeli and American embassies, consulates, and airline offices in a number of European cities; (b) examining whatever defenses may already have been put in place at such sites; and (c) stealing or purchasing passports from people in Europe. But when Jorde on one occasion informed Harb that he (Jorde) had recently shown some stolen passports to a fellow ANO member at a Zurich airport, Harb became enraged at Jorde’s lack of discretion. “You stupid fool!” Harb shouted. “You deserve a good beating! You’ve wasted your whole trip.”

To punish Jorde for his lapse in judgment, Harb ordered him to spend several months at an ANO training camp where, in accord with ANO custom, Jorde was required to write a report of self-criticism and to suggest what punishment he himself should be forced to undergo. As the late British journalist and author Patrick Seale recounted in 1992: “He [Jorde] made it [the punishment] exceptionally harsh: one month’s work on a construction site; an extra four hours of guard duty each night for ten days; two hours of physical exercise each morning instead of one […]; and writing two articles for the organization’s in-house magazine, al-Tariq (The Path), one on selfishness and the other on bad temper.” Impressed by Jorde’s spirit of obvious, deeply felt contrition, Harb soon waived the sanctions and sent the young man for training in the use of an array of powerful weapons.

Soon thereafter, Harb issued Jorde a Tunisian passport in the name of Sha’ban Abd al-Majid Belqassim. He then dispatched Jorde on an assignment where the latter was to pose as a Tunisian Jew and travel to Istanbul to photograph and report on Jewish synagogues in that city. Harb instructed Jorde to focus especially on whatever measures those synagogues may have put in place – e.g., weapons searches or the use of armed guards — to protect themselves from would-be attackers. To help prepare Jorde for this assignment, Harb taught him how to say a handful of Hebrew words, and how to behave during a prayer service without arousing any suspicion.

In September 1988, Harb sent Jorde on what he described as a very important mission — a year-long stay in Thailand, during which Jorde was expected to learn the native language, marry a Thai woman, initiate the process of becoming a Thai citizen, and establish an arms cache that would be readily accessible from Bangkok. Moreover, Harb instructed Jorde to compile a detailed report and photographic record of diplomatic staffers at the Saudi Embassy in Thailand – most likely with the aim of eventually mounting an attack or assassination attempt against one or more of them.

Additional Resources:

Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire — The Secret Life of the World’s Most Notorious Terrorist
By Patrick Seale

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