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Abu Nidal

Abu  Nidal

Abu Nidal in 1976. His cap did not fit, and he had other imperfections.

In the 1970s Sabri al-Banna, also known as Abu Nidal, was a member of a Palestinian secular organization that rejected proposals for a peaceful settlement with Israel. He led a war of violence against Israel. In 1974 his organization split with Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization. It is claimed that he became a freelance terrorist, a "mastermind" working for a variety of intelligence services, giving his expertise to Soviet intelligence, the North Koreans, Libyans and Iraqis. From the year 2000 he was living in a guarded and exclusive neighborhood in Baghdad. According to Yossef Yodansky, a former director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Nidal in 2002 was "bound to a wheelchair by heart disease and cancer." Nidal was sixty-five that year. He was living in an exclusive area where retired intelligence officers and some other members of Saddam Hussein's elite lived.

On the night of August 16 a few gunmen passed through the guarded gates and assassinated Nidal. For reasons uncertain Saddam Hussein wanted Nidal dead. Perhaps Iraqi intelligence learned that Nidal wanted to supply British intelligence with information in exchange for medical treatment in Britain. Perhaps Nidal's presence in Iraq was an embarrassment at a time when Saddam was trying to avoid war with the United States and Britain. The assassination eliminated Nidal as source of information that might have been available to U.S. intelligence eight months later, after the U.S. military arrived in Baghdad.

Copyright © 2006-2014 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.