Yosef Alon (Hebrew: יוסף (ג'ו) אלון), born Josef Plaček (July 25, 1929 – July 1, 1973), was an Israeli Air Force officer and military attache to the U.S. who was mysteriously shot and killed in the driveway of his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Alon was born Josef Plaček on kibbutz Ein Harod to Czechoslovakian parents. When he was two, his family returned to Czechoslovakia. On the eve of World War II, Alon's father sent his 10-year-old son to the United Kingdom as part of the Kindertransport program. Most of his family was wiped out during the Holocaust. Following the war, he returned to Czechoslovakia and attempted to start a career as a jeweler. In 1947, he volunteered for the first pilots' course in the Sherut Avir, the Haganah's nascent air corps. Soon afterward, he moved back to Mandate Palestine, changed his name to Yosef Alon, and upon Israeli independence in 1948, was among the founding members of the Israeli Air Force.
Alon fought in the Israeli War of Independence as a fighter pilot and early member of the nascent Israeli Air Force, and would go on to complete 75 missions. When Israel formed its first Mirage fighter jet squadron, Alon was assigned its commander. In 1970, then a colonel, Alon was chosen to be the assistant air and naval attache at Israel's Embassy in Washington, DC. Installed in what should have been a three-year assignment, Alon advocated strongly on Israeli arms procurement, especially regarding the F-4 Phantom.
On the night of June 30, 1973, Yosef Alon and his wife Dvora went to a dinner party organized for a departing embassy staffer. After two and a half hours of socializing and drinking, at roughly 12:30 am on July 1, the couple entered their Ford Galaxie and drove home to Chevy Chase, Maryland, arriving about a half-hour later. Dvora exited the vehicle and walked a few dozen feet to their porch while Alon gathered up his sports jacket on the back seat. At this moment, Alon was shot five times by a foreign-made .38-caliber revolver, one shot fatally hitting his heart. Dvora rushed inside and called the police, seeing only a light-colored car drive away, and then returned to the front yard and attempted with her 18-year-old daughter Dahlia to stem his bleeding with towels. Alon was taken to a hospital, where he died at 1:27 am.
Later on July 1, the Cairo-based Voice of Palestine broadcast that "After the assassination of martyr Mohammed Boudia at the hands of the Zionist intelligence elements in Paris, Colonel Yosef Alon...was executed...His is the first execution operation carried out against a Zionist official in the U.S."
The FBI investigation, "Murder of Assistant Air Attache Col. Joseph Alon" (MURDA), quickly focused on a possible link with Arab terrorism, including following leads given by the Shin Bet, but was ultimately closed in March 1976 without discovering the perpetrators, according to the Associated Press. Sometime later CIA was reported to have been told by "Fedayeen senior official" that on the orders of Black September, two students, using Lebanese or Cypriot passports, had passed through the Canada–US border and come to Washington, where with the help of a local professor, had rented a car and got the weapons for the assassination. Afterwards, the students were reported to have abandoned the rental for another, which they used to get to Dulles International Airport; from there they flew on to the West Coast, East Asia, and finally the Middle East. This information was passed to the FBI in February 1977, but they could make no new progress, and the investigation was closed. The following year, the collected evidence for the case was destroyed by the Baltimore office of the FBI.
Dvora Alon died in 1995 without knowing the identity of her husband's killer.
In his book Chasing Shadows (Palgrave Macmillan), Fred Burton, former deputy chief of the counterterrorism division of the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service and Vice-President of the private intelligence and consulting firm Stratfor, concluded after a lengthy investigation that Alon's killer was an agent from Black September who was killed by Mossad in 2011.
Due to a lead developed years earlier by journalist Adam Goldman, the FBI reopened the case in January 2017. The new investigation involves information recently given to an agent by Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal that sometime after 1970 three American veterans sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, one of them a "prominent former Black Panther," approached Mahmoud Ould Saleh, a Mauritania-born manager of the Arabic Bookshop on the Rue Saint Victor in the Latin Quarter of Paris and member of the extremist Palestinian “rejection front” (killed in 1977.) Saleh put them in touch with suspected Black September militant Kamal Kheir Beik (later killed), known to have managed terror attacks including 1975 OPEC siege. Every sale of the gun identified as the murder weapon, a .38-caliber revolver, that was sold east of the Mississippi has previously been identified by the FBI, which is now tracing the purchasers of those guns.
- "About the Joe Alon Center". Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved 2011-09-11.
- "Assassins Unknown: CIA, FBI documents provide clues to 1973 killing of Israeli diplomat". Associated Press. June 27, 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-02.
- Who killed Joe Alon?
- Adam Goldman and Randy Herschaft (July 1, 2007). "Papers shed light on envoy's '73 killing". Boston News. Retrieved 2009-03-02.
- Was Alon Killed Because He 'Knew Too Much?'
- Boudia was killed that June 28. For more see Operation Wrath of God.
- Adam Goldman and Randy Herschaft (June 30, 2007). "Family's Long Battle to Find Alon Killer". Fox News. Retrieved 2009-03-02.
- Goldman, Adam (8 January 2017). "I Wrote to Carlos the Jackal, and an Israeli’s Assassination Case Was Revived". New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "PLO Accuses ‘zionist Agents’ of Killing Palestinian Militant". JTA. 5 January 1977. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "Former PLO Aide Killed Leaving Bookstore". NewYorkTimes. 4 January 1977. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- Burton, Fred and John Bruning (2011). Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice. Collegeville, MN: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-230-62055-8.