Av: Jan Willem van der Hoeven
Jerusalem, 7 November 2001
Although respective Presidents of the United States have each said that «they would seek to indict, apprehend and prosecute terrorists» from President Reagan onwards this apparently has not been the case in relation to Yasir Arafat, the known murderer of U.S. diplomats and citizens! This surely for any honest and loyal U.S. citizen must be an intolerable state of affairs, and yet it is shockingly true.
It makes all the pompous public statements by U.S. officials that there will not be a stone left unturned to go after the terrorist and murderers of its citizens hollow and hypocritical.
In spite of forty seven senators addressing on February 12, 1986 a letter of concern based to the then Attorney General Edwin Meese III nothing was done to prosecute and bring to trial Yasir Arafat for his heinous crime against American diplomats but rather a hideous cover up was initiated by «those higher up», which till this day has protected a known murderer from being arrested and tried.
Unless this is put right by the present President of the United States, Georges W. Bush and his Attorney General and staff no amount of statements going after the murderers and terrorists even if it take years, will ring true in the ears of many who far too long have suffered and waited for justice finally to be done. We owe it not just to the widows, Mrs. Cleo Noel, Mrs. C. Moore, Mrs. Kling Croffer and many others – we owe it to our nation and ourselves.
Nothing in the world would prove America’s utter seriousness in wanting to root out terrorism as the arrest and trial of who in many ways is the father of modern terrorism Yasir Arafat. It would cause a healthy shockwave to go all over the world – also the Muslim world – that in order to be reckoned and respected among the nations, the nations have to foreswear terrorism of any kind.
May God give grace and strength to President Bush and his team to lead the nations of this world to that goal.
By Jan Willem van der Hoeven, International Christian Zionist Center
Three documents throw further light on this terrible episode and cover up:
- The confession of James J. Welsh, October 25, 2000 of a signals Intelligence analyst for the National security Agency .
- The letter of the 47 Senators to the Attorney General Edwin Meese III
- Chapter – Operation Cold River – in the book «Inside the PLO» dealing with this issue written by two able and serious journalists Neil Livingston and David HaLevy
I/ The confession of James J. Welsh, October 25, 2000 of a signals Intelligence analyst for the National security Agency.
(Comments: This comes much later than the preceding quoted publications and therefore ads weight to the already published claims and suspicions!
They are quoted hereby in extenso for those who really have the courage not just to know but to start a process as yet that will bring these men to trial and justice.)
Dear Member of Congress,
My name is James J. Welsh. Twenty-seven years ago I was a Signals Intelligence analyst for the National Security Agency. I was, along with another individual, responsible for the analysis of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) communications. On approximately 27 March 1973, a NSA field station informed us that it had intercepted a conversation between Yasser Arafat and Salah Khalaf, the leaders of Fatah, in Beirut and Khalil al-Wazir in Khartoum discussing preparations for an imminent operation in Khartoum. This information was immediately passed through the chain of command at NSA and ultimately was brought to the attention of the Director, NSA (DIRNSA). A decision was made to send this message at Flash (highest) precedence to the US Embassy Khartoum via State Department, as channels required. Within three hours this was done and we all felt relieved that at least our embassy personnel in Khartoum would be safe. How wrong we were.
On the morning of March 1, 1973 I was called at home by NSA to turn on the Television and come in to work. As I saw the news my heart sank. The US Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission were being held hostage at the Saudi Arabian Embassy by members of the Black September Organization, a Palestinian terrorist group whose credits included the Munich Olympic Games Massacre. How could this be? We sent them the warning. They would never Have gone to that reception under these conditions. There was much confusion at the time and I and other analysts began to try to make sense of the chaotic happenings we were following. Finally the terrible news was revealed – the Ambassador and Chief of Mission were dead. We eventually went home.
On Monday morning the subject in our area was obviously nothing but this topic. (Note that all knew of this tragedy but only a few knew of the warning message). Myself and my co-worker began inquiries into how this had happened. We were told that DIRNSA was at that moment on the way to State Department with a copy of the warning with the intention of discovering why it had apparently not been heeded. At State Department, he was shocked to find out that, on the evening of its transmittal to State Department a Watch Officer, in what is now called the Investigations and Review Section, had downgraded this urgent warning message to a routine cable. It arrived two days after the murders.
Within the G7 group where we worked there was a great deal of outrage. I was particularly outraged as I had spent four years following these individuals and, at the moment of our greatest intelligence coup against them, a uninformed GS level had pooh-poohed our work and cost the lives of two US diplomats. I demanded to confront this person (a rather naive desire I must admit) and find out why she had done this. After some effort by my supervisor, a Navy Officer, I was told that the choice was mine: Shut up or lose my clearance and get ready for Fleet Oiler duty within 48 hours. I gave in.
Over the next week, we awaited the arrival of the field intercept tapes and transcriptions. At least we would be able to gain valuable insight into this terrible affair and maybe even someday help punish those responsible. We waited. Finally I remember asking when would the tapes arrive? I was puzzled by the answer: Oh, they’ve been looked at and there isn’t much there. !!!!!????? Wait a minute. Then, how could the field guys have given us all this detailed information that we based the warning message on and which in fact occurred two days later? Something was not right. In addition, our folders with all our materials of the hostage crisis were never returned to us from the higher levels to which they had gone during the crisis. We in effect had nothing now of this affair.
The cover-up had started. And it would last 27 years. I should have gone to Congress 27 years ago and I do so belatedly now. I was a supporter of the Nixon Administration and to this day do believe that Mr. Nixon’s foreign policy skills were far superior to any other potential political rival at that time. However, we must all face the fact that he and his advisers were fearful of scandal. And this would have been a major one if it were to see the light of day. One could only imagine the headline in the Washington Post: State Dept Fails to Warn Embassy, Ambassador, Assistant Dead!. No, that could not happen.
I now make the following charges:
That the existence of the Warning message was covered up in order to prevent embarrassment to the State Department and the White House.
That all evidence that the warning message was based upon was collected at NSA and removed from the normal analytical departments were it would normally have been analyzed.
That all existing copies of cable sent belatedly to US Embassy Khartoum were collected and destroyed at US Embassy Khartoum per instructions at high level of Department of State or the White House. There would be no embarrassment due to discovery of the delayed warning.
That for thirteen years no prosecution or political penalty could be extracted of Yasser Arafat and his subordinates due to the need to keep this warning hidden from any scrutiny. Any public acknowledgement of the existence of the tapes made before, during and after the murders would have inevitably led back to the delayed warning message. That when, in 1985 and 1986, Congress requested then Attorney General Meese to investigate the matter of Yasser Arafat’s direct complicity in these murders, the cover-up was continued to protect those who had initiated it thirteen years before.
That subsequent administrations have, in fact, been appraised of the authenticity of Arafat’s voice on the tapes and have chosen, for political reasons, to turn a blind eye to the direct guilt of Yasser Arafat in the Cold-blooded murders of Cleo Noel and George Moore.
That not only did more than one United States intercept site copy conversations between the terrorists in Khartoum and the Fatah office in Beirut but that at least two foreign intelligence agencies did in fact copy said communications and turn them over to the United States government at the time of the affair.
After twenty-seven years I can come to no other conclusion for the lack of interest by the government of the United States in holding Yasser Arafat at least politically liable, if not legally, than that there was a cover-up due to the delayed, bungled delivery of the warning message.
In over two months of talking to actual principals in the affair, to those who have written the definitive books on the incident, to those in Congress who took testimony on this tragic event, not one, not one solitary person has acknowledged any knowledge of a warning message.
But we have a source. Those who participated with me in the writing Of this message still live. You will be able to finally find the truth if you will subpoena them to come before your committee. I will give you their names in secret.
Next I believe I know the name of the State Department Watch Officer who downgraded the message. I will supply that name to you also.
Members of Congress, it is now up to you. I have given you what I believe are the keys to unlock the puzzle of why Yasser Arafat walks the halls of the White House with impunity in spite of everyone’s belief in his personal guilt. Follow this trail and you will find the true answer.
The Honorable Edwin Meese III
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
We understand that the Department of Justice has received information linking PLO leader Yasser Arafat to the brutal 1973 slaying of Ambassador Cleo Noel and Charge d’Affaires C.Curtis Moore in Khartoum, Sudan. The material is reported to include various State Department cables that may confirm Arafat’s role in the murders. It is also reported to include an assertion that the U.S. government has a tape recording of an intercepted message in which Arafat allegedly ordered the assassination of Ambassador Noel and Charge d’Affaires Moore, who were taken hostage when Palestinian terrorists seized the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum on March 2, 1973. As you know, press reports indicate that the eight terrorists involved in the incident identified themselves as members of Black September. They demanded the release from prison of Sirhan Sirhan, the Baader-Meinhof gang, and a group of Fatah members being held In Jordan.
Press reports indicate that when their demands were not met, the terrorists selected the three Westerners among the hostages–U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel, Charge d’Affaires C.Curtis Moore, and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid–and machine-gunned them after first allowing them to write farewell notes to their families and then beating them. A day later, the terrorists surrendered to Sudanese authorities after a lengthy round of transoceanic communications involving, among others, Arafat and the Vice President of Sudan.
Press reports indicate that Sudanese President Gaafar Mohammed Nimeiri went public at once with evidence showing that the operation had been run out of the Khartoum office of Fatah. One month after the slayings, the Washington Post reported that according to Western intelligence sources, Arafat was in the Black September radio command center in Beirut when the message to execute three Western diplomats was sent out. The Post also reported that Arafat’s voice was monitored and recorded. Although according to the Post’s sources, it was unclear if Arafat himself or his deputy gave the order to carry out the executions, Arafat reportedly was present in the Operations center when the message was sent and personally congratulated the guerrillas after the execution.
These allegations, if substantiated, leave little doubt that a warrant for Arafat’s arrest should be issued, and a criminal indictment filed against him. To allow other factors to enter into this decision is to make a mockery of our laws and our stated commitment to eradicate terrorism. As President Reagan told an American Bar Association convention this July, «we will seek to indict, apprehend, and prosecute» terrorists.
We understand that this matter is presently under review at the Justice Department. We urge the Justice Department to assign the highest priority To completing this review, and to issue an indictment of Yasser Arafat if the evidence so warrants. We would also ask that you keep us advised of the progress of your investigation.
(Signed by 47 U.S. Senators, including Albert Gore, Democrat of Tennessee.)
III/ Chapter – Operation Cold River – in the book «Inside the PLO» dealing with this issue written by two able and serious journalists Neil Livingston and David HaLevy:
The United States, however, hesitated to directly retaliate against Black September and the PLO. Instead, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dispatched Lieutenant General Walters to a still-secret meeting with two top PLO figures, Khaled al-Hassan and Majid Abu Sharar, in Rabat, Morocco.
Khartoum wasn’t much different on the night of March 1, 1973, when eight Palestinian terrorists, all members of Black September, burst into the Embassy of Saudi Arabia during an all-male farewell party being thrown by the Saudi ambassador, Sheikh Abdullah al-Malhouk, in honor of the departing U.S. chargé d’affaires George Curtis Moore. Some guests escaped during the takeover, and others were released a short time later, including all the diplomats from the Eastern bloc and «sympathetic» Arab and Third World countries. Moore, recently arrived U.S. Ambassador Cleo A. Noel, the Belgian chargé d’affaires, Guy Eid, the Saudi ambassador, and Jordanian Chargé d’Affaires Adli al-Nasser were among those taken hostage. Both Noel and Eid sustained leg wounds in the takeover. The West German ambassador also had been a prime target, but he had left the party before the terrorists arrived.
In exchange for their hostages the terrorists demanded the release of a grab bag of international outlaws, including Black September leader Abu Daroud, then imprisoned in Jordan; Sirhan Sirhan, the murderer of Robert Kennedy; and several members of the notorious Baader-Meinhoff Gang, serving long prison sentences in West Germany.
The terrorists had been provided with all the critical intelligence needed to storm the Saudi Embassy – such as the guest list, security arrangements, and a diagram of the building – by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative in the Sudan, Fawaz Yassin Abdel Rahman ( Abu Marwan). Prior to becoming the PLO’s top man in Sudan, Abu Marwan was in charge of the Voice of al-Asifa (The Storm). The Voice of al-Asifa was Fatah’s main propaganda broadcast and was transmitted by Cairo Radio and later rebroadcast by Baghdad Radio. The program had aired every evening for one hour since May 1968, when it first appeared. Abu Marwan oversaw the content of the program, which included a mix of interviews, segments devoted to instructing listeners on the principles of the Revolution, and military announcements, punctuated with Palestinian poems and songs. Among the more famous musical offerings was the «Kalashnikov Song,» a paean to the Communist-manufactured assault rifle pronounced «Klashin» in Arabic:
Klashin makes the blood run out in torrents,
Haifa and Jaffa are calling us.
Commando, go ahead and do not worry.
Open fire and break the silence of the night.
Abu Marwan, who enjoyed full diplomatic immunity, apparently got cold feet and departed the Sudan for Libya on the eve of the attack, leaving behind incriminating documents that left no doubt about his role and that of the PLO high command in the plot. His deputy, Salim Rizak (Abu Ghassan), the PLO’s number two man in the Sudan, who also had full diplomatic immunity, assumed command of the operation and actually led the attack. He was joined by six PLO gunmen, Abdel Latif Abu Hijlah (Abu Tariq) and five others known only by their first names or code names(Khalid, Salah, Gamal, Mahir, and Farouk). They had just arrived from Beirut the previous day. The final member of the operation was the third-ranking PLO operative in the Sudan, known today only as Karam, who was in charge of Palestinian student scholarships. It was Karam who actually drove the terrorists through the gate of the Saudi Embassy in the PLO delegation’s Land-Rover, bearing its official diplomatic plates. The weapons and explosives used in the attack were shipped to Khartoum by Libya in a diplomatic pouch.
As a sandstorm swept toward Khartoum, negotiations for the release of the hostage diplomats got under way, reflecting the gloom hanging over the city. The United States, Jordan, and West Germany all indicated that the terrorist demands were out of the question. In a public statement President Richard Nixon declared that the United States would not pay blackmail. «We cannot do so and we will not do so,» Nixon affirmed.
«Nahr al-Bard» was also the code phrase instructing the terrorists in Khartoum to kill the Western diplomats. Abu Iyad repeated the key phrase twice to underscore his order. At Fatah headquarters in Beirut there was still concern over whether the proper message had been received and understood. To eliminate any possible confusion, according to intelligence sources, Ali Hassan Salameh contacted the Embassy of Sudan in Beirut and requested that the same message («Remember Nahr al-bard») be transmitted to the terrorists at the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum. Sudanese officials were assured by Salameh that the message would bring the hostage crises to a speedy conclusion. Accordingly, they transmitted it to the Sudanese Foreign Ministry in Khartoum, and it was delivered by courier to Abu Ghassan. The second message, however, was unnecessary. Noel, Moore and Eid had already been executed in the basement of the embassy.
The execution had been a particularly brutal affair. Informed that he was about to die, Ambassador Noel, with great dignity, thanked the Saudi ambassador for his hospitality and assured him that he should not feel any guilt over what was about to happen. At 9:06 P.M. the three men were lined up against the wall and forty rounds were pumped into their bodies. At the command of Abu Tariq (Hijlah), who led the assassination squad, the terrorists fired from the floor upward, to prolong the agony of their victims by striking them first in the feet and legs, before administering the coup de grace. When they were finished, Abu Ghassan telephoned the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum and informed it that the two Americans and the Belgian diplomat were dead.
A few minutes later Fatah headquarters once again established contact with its men in Khartoum. But this time it was the «old man», as Yasir Arafat was commonly known, calling. Arafat asked Abu Ghassan if the Nahr al-Bard code word had been understood. Abu Ghassan responded in the affirmative and told Arafat that the order had already been carried out. Arafat then expressed concern over the fate of the two Arab hostages, the Saudi ambassador and the Jordanian chargé d’affaires. He was assured that they were all right. Employing another set of code words, Arafat instructed Abu Ghassan to demand safe passage to Libya or Egypt. If the Sudanese government of Sudan would accede to this demand, he continued, Abu Ghassan and his seven team members were to free the two remaining hostages and surrender to the government of Sudan. In addition, Arafat personally contacted a top Sudanese official by telephone to urge that no precipitious action be taken, such as an effort to storm the embassy. He asked the Sudanese to «be patient» until a senior PLO official arrived on the scene. According to Beirut newspaper reports described in a confidential U.S. State Department cable, the PLO emissary was carrying an order from the PLO Executive Committee informing the terrorists that their «mission» was over and instructing them to surrender to the Sudanese authorities.
The State Department later speculated that «Arafat’s last minute move to help avert assassination of Saudi and Jordanian ambassadors may have been designed (to) maintain some slight credit with Arab moderates and those within Fedayeen movement who believe that extremists like Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad) are leading movement to destruction.» Even if we concede such an interpretation to Arafat’s actions, it is clear that he and Abu Iyad were in charge of the operation.
Further evidence of their guilt is provided by the U.S. Embassy in West Beirut, some two miles north of Fatah’s headquarters in the Fakhani section of the city, which subsequently intercepted another radio transmission from Arafat to his men inside the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum. «Your mission has ended,» he told them. «Release Saudi and Jordanian diplomats. Submit in courage to Sudanese authorities to explain your just cause to (the) great Sudanese Arab masses and international opinion. We are with you on the same road. Glory and immortality to (the) martyrs of the Nahr al-Bard and Libyan aircraft. » This is the first time that Libya is referred to, and it suggests that the operation may have been carried out, in part, in retaliation for the Israeli downing of a Libyan passenger jet on February 21, 1973. Former Deputy Chief of Mossad Shlomo Cohen Abarbanel was convinced that the Libyans were intimately involved in the operation. According to Cohen Abarbanel, they «were all over the operation. They offered their assistance once they were approached by Fatah and apparently paid for the operation after it was carried out.»
Although the Sudanese government failed to promise the terrorists safe passage out of the country, at the end of a sixty-hour siege they surrendered without harming their Saudi or Jordanian hostages. After their surrender, speaking from Beirut, Black September issued the following statement: «Now that our youth have given themselves up as instructed, we wish to make following position: (A) Their operation was aimed at liberating Abu Daoud and his companions and Sirhan Beshara Sirhan who are being jailed in violation of all human ethics». The rest of the statement, in fractured English, accused Ambassador Noel of conducting spying operations against Palestinians in the region and claimed that Moore was a CIA operative who assisted the Jordanian government in its «massacre» of civilians in September 1970. No evidence was presented to substantiate either charge.
The United States, however, hesitated to directly retaliate against Black September and the PLO. Instead, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dispatched Lieutenant General Vernon Walters to a still-secret meeting with two top PLO figures Khaled al-Hassan and Majid Abu Sharar, in Rabat, Morocco. According to a published interview, Walters said his meeting was with «a very senior PLO guy, but not Arafat directly. As for what he told the PLO officials, Walters will only say: «Stop killing Americans or there would be serious consequences».
U.S. officials had ample evidence of Arafat’s and the PLO’s direct involvement in the Khartoum murders but chose – for reasons never made clear – to suppress the evidence, including the intercepts of the radiotelephone conversations between Abu Ghassan and Fatah headquarters in Beirut. The National Security Agency (NSA) had monitoring stations throughout the region and obviously would have paid particular attention to communications between Khartoum and Beirut during the period in question. Among these stations were the huge Kagnew «listening post» in Asmara, Ethiopia, and signals intelligence facilities in Turkey, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and Cyprus. The communications may also have been monitored by U.S. naval vessels belonging to the Sixth Fleet and by U.S. RC-135’s based in Greece.
In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum was equipped with a Fairchild Band Hopper, an electronic device able to scan the entire range of radio transmission frequencies searching for signals. Once it locks in on a signal, it can record the transmission. It is hard to imagine, therefore, that the embassy failed to intercept the critical communications (including the coded message to kill the Western diplomats) between Fatah headquarters in Beirut and the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum. Indeed, a March 7, 1973, cable from the U.S, Embassy in Khartoum to the secretary of state actually referred to what are, presumably, taped intercepts. «Embassy …. has obtained……recitation of communications (based on tapes) between Al Fatah Radio in Beirut to terrorists at Saudi Embassy in Khartoum,» reads the heavily censored cable. «Notable that the terrorists were apparently under external control from Beirut and did not murder Ambassdor Noel and Moore nor surrender to GOS(government of Sudan) until receiving specific codeword instructions.»
A confidential source has confirmed that the CIA station at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum did monitor the communications between the terrorists and their headquarters in Beirut. According to this source, when the crucial «Cold River» command was intercepted, the CIA operatives at the station did not immediately understand its significance. This was due to the fact that the term «Nahr al-Bard» was translated literally, and no connection was made with the Israeli raid in Lebanon ten days earlier. Thus, it was only in retrospect that the station realized that the Nahr al-Bard message was the command to execute the Western hostages.
At the time of the Khartoum incident, in addition to the elaborate US signals collection net, Israel monitored all communications from Fatah headquarters to its far-flung stations and operatives. The Israelis have never released the actual taped intercepts, but transcripts exist of the communications between the terrorists in Khartoum and their Beirut headquarters.
Although General Walters, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations during the Reagan administration, has been quoted as saying that the existence of the critical tape, wherein Aby Iyad and, subsequently, Arafat gave the order to kill the Western diplomats, was «common knowledge», the tape has never surfaced. Crucial State Department cables from the US Embassy in Khartoum also reportedly were destroyed.
The only answer for the Nixon administration’s reluctance to make public all that was known about the Khartoum incident in 1973 is that top American policy makers feared that to do so would force the government’s hand. The public and the Congress would surely have cried out for some kind of retaliation against Arafat and the PLO if their direct involvement in the murders of Noel and Moore were proved. There may also have been concern that the situation could easily escalate out of control, placing many other Americans in jeopardy, as the United States and the PLO flailed away at each other….
Perhaps the most disturbing reappearance of one of the Khartoum terrorists occurred in December 1988, after the United States opened a direct dialogue with the PLO in Tunis. According to an Agence France-Presse dispatch transmitted to Paris on December 16, 1988, at 4:11 P.M.:
Tunis, Dec. 16 (AFP) – The first official meeting between U.S. and PLO representatives for more than 13 years opened near here on Friday at 4:30 P.M.
US Ambassador to Tunisia Robert Pelletreau and a four-man Palestinian delegation held a brief session for photographers before entering talks in closed session.
The Palestine Liberation Organization delegates were Executive Committee members Yassir Abd Rabbuh and Abdallah Hurani, Foreign Affairs Director Abd al Latif Abu Hilaj, and the PLO representative in Tunisia, Hakim Bal’awi. A single session of talks was envisioned.
Before the session started, U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Robert H. Pelletreau, Jr, a former CIA official named the American representative to the talks, shook hands with Hijlah (Abu Taria) the man who fifteen years earlier had emptied the magazine of his Russian-made assault rifle into Ambassador Cleo Noel, Georges C. Moore and Belgian Charge d’Affaires Guy Eid. There is no direct evidence that Pelletreau knew of Hijlah’s unsavoury past, but it is difficult to believe that US intelligence agencies had not provided the ambassador with full profiles of the four PLO officials he was scheduled to meet with.*
Arafat and the PLO could have chosen anyone t represent them at the first official talks with the US government. Instead, for a variety of reasons, Hijlah was deliberately selected as one of the PLO’s representatives. The chief purpose was to send Washington and the incoming Bush administration a blunt message, not in English but in Arabic. The message was that the past should be forgotten, that no matter what direction the US-PLO dialogue would take, the talks should be predicated on current realities and mutual hopes for the future, notion past animosities. Sending Hijlah to meet with Ambassador Pelletreau was a particularly Arab/Bedouin gesture, which finds its origin in the Sulach, or reconciliation family of the murdered and to put the past behind them.
* If Ambassador Pelletreau knew that opposite him sat the cold murderer of his colleague Ambassador Noel Cleo what were his sentiments and how could he ever have accepted this travesty of any justice and kept quiet ever since?