When the CIA Took a Palestinian Terrorist to Disneyland

Jan. 27 2020

In 1969, the Central Intelligence Agency decided it should cultivate a relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—then designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.—with the goal of wooing Yasir Arafat away from the Soviets. Arafat, writes Sean Durns, played along:

To facilitate this relationship, Arafat relied on Ali Hassan Salameh, the head of Force 17, his personal security force and counterintelligence unit. . . . A flamboyant womanizer, [Salameh] wore leather jackets, drank alcohol, and practiced karate. His father, Hassan Salameh, had been a famous Palestinian terrorist who took part in, among other acts, a failed Nazi plot to poison Tel Aviv’s water supply during World War II. . . . The CIA told Salameh that he “has friends in high places and so does his cause.”

Salameh even admitted to his handler, Robert Ames, that he had recruited a Paris theater-owner who had sent agents to blow up a hotel in Israel.

Neither this information, nor the PLO’s murder of two American diplomats in Khartoum in February 1973, dissuaded the CIA from maintaining the relationship. In fact, terrorism seemed to have had the opposite effect: in November of the same year, the Agency formalized its relationship with the PLO and, in 1976, then-CIA director George H.W. Bush invited Salameh to visit headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

During his January 1977 visit to Langley, a CIA operations officer named Alan Wolfe gave Salameh—whom Israelis held responsible for helping plan the 1972 Munich Olympic Games massacre in which eleven Israeli athletes were held hostage, tortured, and murdered—a leather shoulder holster for his gun. Perhaps most incredibly, at his request, the CIA subsequently took Salameh and his wife to Disneyland for their honeymoon, accompanying him on the rides and paying for the trip.

Salameh’s initial CIA contact, Robert Ames, would be murdered, along with 62 others, in an April 18, 1983 suicide car bombing at the U.S. embassy in Beirut. The attack was carried out by Shiite jihadists and reportedly planned by Imad Mughniyeh, formerly an operative of Salameh’s Force 17.

As for Salameh himself, the Mossad assassinated him in 1979. Another CIA officer sent his son a condolence letter.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: CIA, George H. W. Bush, Hizballah, Palestinian terror, PLO, Yasir Arafat


President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process