Abu Nidal Organization
The Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) is the most common name for the Palestinian group Fatah–The Revolutionary Council (Fatah al-Majles al-Thawry), also known as Black June, the Arab Revolutionary Brigades, the Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims, and sometimes operating as Black September (not to be confused with the Black September Organization).
The ANO is named after its founder Abu Nidal. It was created by a split from Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO in 1974. It is regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, and the European Union.
Formation and background
The ANO was originally formed as a result of the 1974 Rejectionist Front split in the PLO, after Arafat's Fatah had pushed through amendments of the PLO's goals, which were seen as a step towards compromise with Israel. Abu Nidal then moved to Ba'th-ruled Iraq where he set up the ANO, which soon began a vicious string of terrorist attacks.
It has not clearly defined its ideological position, but was clearly opposed to any form of compromise or negotiation with Israel. It is known as one of the most uncompromisingly militant Palestinian groups ever. It had an estimated membership of several hundred, but its strength today is not known.
The ANO carried out attacks in 20 countries, killing or injuring almost 900 persons. Targets include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, moderate Palestinians, the PLO, and various Arab and European countries. The group has not attacked Western targets since the late 1980s.
Major attacks included the Rome and Vienna Airport Attacks in December 1985, the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul and the Pan Am Flight 73 hijacking in Karachi in September 1986, and the City of Poros day-excursion ship attack in Greece in July 1988.
The ANO has been especially noted for its uncompromising stance on negotiation with Israel, treating anything less than all-out military struggle against Israel as treachery. This led the group to perform numerous attacks against the PLO, which had made clear it accepted a negotiated solution to the conflict. Fatah-RC is believed to have assassinated PLO deputy chief Abu Iyad and PLO security chief Abu Hul in Tunis in January 1991. It assassinated a Jordanian diplomat in Lebanon in January 1994 and has been linked to the killing of the PLO representative there. Noted PLO moderate Issam Sartawi was killed by the Fatah-RC in 1983. In the late 1970s, the group also made failed assassination attempt on the present Palestinian president and PLO chairman, Mahmoud Abbas. These attacks, and numerous others, led to the PLO issuing a death sentence in absentia against Abu Nidal. In the early 1990s, it made an attempt to gain control of a refugee camp in Lebanon, but this was thwarted by PLO organizations.
The group has at various stages received funding from Iraq, Libya, and (until 1987) Syria. Initially, it was closest to the Iraqi regime, but near the end of the 1970s, it moved closer to Libya. From the early 1980s, some viewed it as a Libyan proxy. As Gadaffi came under increasing pressure from Western governments for his involvement in international terrorism, Libyan backing dwindled, and the group seems to have been forced by the authorities to remain quiet from the late 1980s.
The ANO's operations in Libya were finally stopped by local authorities in 1999, but by then most of the organization had already left for, or fled to, Sudan and other Arab countries. The choking of funding from Middle Eastern governments caused the organization to slip away in obscurity. Abu Nidal's failing health also seems to have contributed to this. Abu Nidal lived in Baghdad from the 1990s. He was found dead in 2002 by agents of the Iraqi regime. According to the Iraqi government he shot himself in the mouth when security services came to arrest him, but the ANO issued a statement from Beirut, stating their belief that Abu Nidal had been murdered.
The group has repeatedly been accused, not least by other Palestinians, of acting as a mercenary terrorist force rather than as part of a national liberation movement. Many of its attacks are seemingly unrelated to the Palestinian struggle, and international terrorism experts point out that it tended to attack Libya's enemies during periods of Libyan support, Iraqi enemies during periods of backing from Saddam Hussein, etc.
- U.S. State Department report "Patterns of Global Terrorism - 2003" .