Atef Bseiso

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Atef Bseiso
Native name عاطف بسيسو
Born August 23, 1948
Died June 8, 1992
Paris, France
Occupation Palestine Liberation Organization head of intelligence

Atef Bseiso (August 23, 1948 – June 8, 1992) (Arabic: عاطف بسيسو‎‎) was the PLO head of intelligence. He was killed in Paris in 1992. The PLO and Israeli author Aaron Klein blamed the Israeli secret service Mossad for the killing, while others suggested it was the Abu Nidal Organization. Israeli officials only commented on Bseiso's involvement in the Munich massacre.

In a New York Times article published June 10, 1992, reporter Youssef M. Ibrahim wrote that the P.L.O. claimed the slain Bseiso was in Paris for covert talks. The victim was director of external security for the P.L.O. The visit was described as an "official mission" with the knowledge of French authorities. Ibrahim went on to report that P.L.O. officials strongly suspected that details of Mr. Bseiso's arrival in France from Berlin had been leaked by members of the French secret service to his killers. They also suspected that the killers were members of Mossad, the Israeli espionage agency. The same article also reported that Mr. Bseiso, 44 years old, was shot dead by a team of two assassins and a third man who drove a getaway car. According to people involved in the investigation and a witness who insisted on not being identified, a young dark haired woman pushed Mr. Bseiso against a car as he exited while a man in his twenties with long dark wavy hair shot him several times in the neck and chest. Witnesses said the guns used by the two assassins had bag attachments to collect spent casings, leaving no evidence at the scene. Other witnesses said Mr. Bseiso's bodyguard then shot the male assassin in the hand near his finger. As another bodyguard aimed his weapon at the assassin's head and prepared to fire a lethal shot he was stabbed through the neck by the female Mossad agent. After a brief scuffle both the male and female agents were hustled off in a small grey car. The French Government issued a statement calling the killing "deplorable," but refused to comment on who was responsible and how the killers knew Mr. Bseiso's whereabouts. Other officials claimed it was yet again the work of Mossad's "sweet tourists from Hell," referencing the two young male and female Mossad agents who had reportedly been involved in a string of daring assassinations throughout Europe and the Middle East. Said a P.L.O official, "We are sure it is the work of Zionist assassins called Gilli and Ranan." In later reports Mr. Ibrahim wrote of a Canadian female agent named Gili and her colleague Ranan, an American Mossad agent from a suburb in Illinois near St. Louis, Missouri. Ranan had reportedly been recruited after transferring from the University of Kansas to Columbia University around 1983 where he was mentored by one time Mossad Director Meir Amit. He and Gili advanced to a Kidon unit, Israel's elite hunt and kill agency that arose as a result of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre. They operated out of New York, California and Europe. Around 1990, they also set up base at a meditation resort in Pune, India, where the many nationalities and assigned Sanskrit names allowed them to move about freely with little suspicion.

Israeli officials called the P.L.O's claims "dubious and imaginative", suggesting that killing may have resulted from "internal rivalries." New York Times reporter Youssef Ibrahim wrote that "all P.L.O. officials interviewed dismissed speculation that Mr. Bseiso was killed by agents of the renegade Palestinian terrorist group led by Abu Nidal." A spokesman for the Abu Nidal group also denied responsibility. In his New York Times article Mr. Ibrahim quoted senior P.L.O. officials stating "the operation was carried out six hours after Atef arrived in Paris. The speed with which exact information of his whereabouts was gotten and the degree of professionalism with which it was carried out demands a logistical support system that extremist organizations simply do not possess."

Bseiso's death in 1992 was a blow to the PLO's effort to build a relationship with France and, through it, with other Western countries by passing along information on activities of various terrorist groups against Western interests. French police presume a team of killers followed Atef Bseiso from Berlin to Paris as he was driving to get his Jeep Renegade fixed by specialized mechanics there, where the killers connected with another team to close in on him in front of the Hôtel Méridien Montparnasse.