The State Department has finally admitted what it was determined to conceal for 33 long years – that it knew Arafat personally ordered the killings of two U.S. diplomats in Khartoum in 1973, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Sudan George Curtis Moore, then the highest ranking black man in the Foreign Service, and his replacement as Ambassador, Cleo Noel. They were brutally beaten and machine-gunned. The State Department’s Office of the Historian has released an authoritative summary of the relevant documents prepared by the CIA.
Why the long cover-up? Seven successive administrations, Republican and Democrat, denied the government had any evidence Arafat was involved. As recently as 2002 the State Department once again officially denied it had any proof Arafat was responsible. For the last seven years James J. Welsh, the National Security Agency’s Palestinian communications analyst from 1970-1974 and the man who heard the tapes and first intercepted Arafat’s murder plans, had vainly tried to mobilize Congressional interest in exposing the story.
In a 2002 letter to columnist/lawyer Debbie Schlussel, Welsh writes about Arafat’s double game. Arafat pretended to the West and the international press that he was making every effort to get the hostages released (Noel and Moore, along with Belgian Charge d’Affaires Guy Eid, who was also murdered, had been captured by Black September operatives while attending a farewell party for Moore at the Saudi embassy in Khartoum). Arafat would then return to Fatah headquarters in Beirut to instruct the hostage takers on the next step in the demand process (they were demanding the release of terrorists held by a number of countries, among them Sirhan Sirhan, the murderer of Robert F. Kennedy). And then he ordered that the murders be carried out. The CIA and NSA had tapped into Fatah’s phones and bugged its headquarters – everything was on tape.
Welsh explains the initial reasons for the cover up in a letter he sent to members of Congress in October 2000 (which Schlussel has reprinted on her website). He and another analyst responsible for monitoring PLO communications had learned from an NSA field station of a conversation between Arafat and other Fatah leaders about preparations for an imminent operation in Khartoum. The information was sent at Flash (highest) precedence to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum via the State Department, as channels required. Welsh was amazed and horrified when he heard of the capture of the diplomats – they would never have gone to that reception, given the warning. He learned that a Watch officer in the State Department had downgraded the urgent warning message to a routine cable – it arrived two days after the men had been assassinated.
The cover-up went into high gear. The field intercept tapes and transcriptions were buried – when Welsh asked to see them he was told they’d been looked at and there wasn’t much there. His folders and that of his fellow analyst, with all the materials on the hostage crisis, were never returned from the higher levels to which they had gone. Welsh is convinced that the President’s office (Nixon was President at the time) and the State Department were fearful of the scandal that would erupt if the bungled delivery of the warning message became public knowledge. And so, he charges, they covered up the existence of the warning message, removed from the normal analytical departments all evidence of the message, destroyed copies of the cable sent too late to the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, and shielded Arafat from paying any penalty due to “the need to keep this warning hidden from any scrutiny.”
Subsequent administrations, Welsh believes, chose for political reasons to turn a blind eye to Arafat’s guilt, seeing him as useful in advancing Arab-Israel negotiations and after Oslo, wanting at all costs to avoid “derailing the Middle East peace process.”
Thus it came to be that the man directly responsible for the brutal murders of U.S. diplomats and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid, and known by each administration to be their murderer, was transformed with American connivance into a fawned-over “partner for peace,” a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and eventually became the most courted and frequent foreign visitor to the Clinton White House. In sum, successive U.S. administrations knowingly betrayed their bedrock responsibility to seek justice for the assassination of their own diplomatic representatives.
Mind you, it isn’t as if the story, even prior to Welsh going public with his testimony, had not leaked. In the immediate aftermath of the murders, Sudan's s President Jaafar Numeiry reported that one of the terrorists (they had been promptly captured) confessed the entire operation had been orchestrated by Fatah headquarters in Beirut. In 1986 47 U.S. Senators (including Al Gore, then senator from Tennessee) sent a letter to Ed Meese, head of the Justice Department, saying they knew the Justice Department had State Department cables confirming Arafat’s role in the murder, and a tape of the intercepted message in which Arafat ordered the assassinations. They urged a warrant be issued for Arafat’s arrest and a criminal indictment be filed. The Reagan Justice Department stonewalled, denying any knowledge of such tape recordings, the sine qua non for taking legal action.
In April 2002 we republished in Outpost an article by Joseph Farah, editor of WorldNetDaily, “New Evidence Arafat Killed U.S. Diplomats.” Russ Braley, a retired long-time foreign correspondent for the New York Daily News, had explored boxes of papers in the National Archives’ Nixon Project (created when Congress took control of Nixon’s papers) and come upon several boxes of documents related to the 1973 kidnap-murders in Khartoum. The following is from Farah’s article:
“Though the files had been, according to Braley, thoroughly purged of information regarding intercepts of Arafat giving the explicit orders for the machine-gun murders of the diplomats, one surviving CIA report, found in NSA box 666 and enclosed in a message from [Secretary of State] Rogers to some 40 U.S. embassies, shows Arafat’s complicity in the terrorist crimes.
“The embassies were instructed to convey the information to foreign governments ‘orally only,’ due to its sensitivity: ‘Begin text. The Black September Organization (BSO) is a cover term for Fatah’s terrorist operations executed by Fatah’s intelligence organization, Johaz al-Rasd. The collapse of Fatah’s guerilla 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 [Black September Organization] operation in Khartoum was carried out with substantial help from Fatah’s Khartoum office and applauded by Fatah radio stations in Cairo and Beirut...
“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 [Fatah Deputy Chief Salah] Khalaf, the planner and director of the Munich and Khartoum operations, are identified as BSO leaders. Fatah leader Yasser Arafat has now been described in recent intelligence reports as having given approval of the Khartoum operation prior to its inception.”
This smoking gun discovery by Braley never made it past WorldNetDaily. Then as now the media turned its back. (For decades the mainstream media portrayed Black September as a revolt against Arafat’s leadership and said he disapproved of its methods.) Today, as Caroline Glick notes in her Jerusalem Post column (Jan. 1), the media have shown no interest in the newly released State Department material, with a Google search showing none of the major news networks or national newspapers picking up the story.
Media that hype the most minor scandal or hoped-for-scandal (look at the recent feeding frenzy over the supposed leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame’s name) are disinterested in a truly massive decades-long cover-up with huge political consequences. Glick asks: “How many lives would have been saved if the U.S. had not been intent on upholding Arafat’s big lie? How would such a U.S. policy have impacted the subsequent development of sister terror organizations like Hamas, all of which were founded by members of Arafat’s terror industry….Imagine what the world would have looked like if, rather than clinging to Arafat’s big lie that he and his Fatah terror organization were central components of Middle East peace, the U.S. had captured and tried Arafat for murdering its diplomats and worked steadily to destroy Fatah.”
Sadly, the release, finally, of the incriminating material does not signify any change in U.S. policy which continues to be the whitewashing of terror leaders. In the tradition of his mentor Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas continues the same double game while the U.S. – backed by a cooperative media -- plays the same role of willing dupe. One need look no further than Abbas’ most recent major speech in Ramallah on January 11. Yes, as the AP reported, Abbas called for rival factions in the PA to “respect each other” but, as the AP failed to report, he went on to say “let our rifles, all our rifles, all our rifles, be aimed at the Occupation.” Nor did the AP or the hundreds of English-language articles on the speech bother to mention that Abbas went on to use the Koran to claim Jews “are corrupting humanity on earth.”
And what is the U.S. response to the blatant anti-Semitism of the speech and the call to arms against Israel? Why, the most fulsome praise for Abbas. Standing beside him in Ramallah three days after his speech, Condoleezza Rice declared “I want everyone to know, particularly the Palestinian people, how much we admire the leadership of President Abbas as a leader of the Palestinian people.” The effusive panegyrics are accompanied by a policy of arming Abbas’ security forces, notably Force 17, with $86.4 million currently scheduled to be devoted to this effort. There can be no question the arms and training will go to killing Israelis. As Aaron Klein notes on WorldNetDaily, some in Force 17 are openly members of Fatah’s “military wing,” the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (which along with Islamic Jihad has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel over the past two years). Klein quotes Abu Yousuf, an avowed member of both Force 17 and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who says “It’s unnatural to think these American weapons won’t be used against the Israelis.”
Moreover, although the ostensible U.S. purpose in arming Abbas’ forces is to undercut Hamas, in fact the weapons quickly travel to Hamas. The forces of Abbas are riddled with Hamas supporters. Hamas spokesman Abu Oubaida told Klein: “I am sure that like in the past, this $86 million from America will find its way to the Hamas resistance via the honorable persons in the Fatah security organizations, including in Force 17. I can confirm 100 percent that this money and purchased weapons will find its way to Hamas.” The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 12) quotes Bassam Eid of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, who put it succinctly: “What Mr. Bush will do with this money is double the number of thugs.”
Meanwhile in Newspeak worthy of Orwell’s 1984, a U.S. document announces that the $86 million will “assist the Palestinian Authority presidency in fulfilling PA commitments under the Road Map (peace plan) to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza.”
So the surreal “peace processing” goes on. It is as likely to achieve “two states living peacefully side by side” as, in columnist Ralph Peter’s apt analogy, a rabbi is already the king of Saudi Arabia....