In July, Ahmad Jibril, the founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command (PFLFP–GC)—an offshoot of the once-Marxist PFLP—died in Syria of natural causes. Ksenia Svetlova, who interviewed him in 2006, reflects on his career:
Years before Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were established, Jibril was the innovator and trendsetter among other terrorist organizations. His PFLP–GC was the first to use “living bombs” and to find a justification for suicide bombings in Muslim jurisprudence. In 1982 his organization demanded the release of 1,182 Palestinian and international prisoners in exchange for captured Israelis, setting a precedent that came to haunt Israel more than once since then. [He] ended up with the shadowy remnants of his once-proud organization fighting with Bashar al-Assad’s army against other Palestinians in Yarmouk camp [in Damascus] and dying an old man.
During the 1970s, when Palestinian terrorist organizations were operating freely from southern Lebanon, Jibril’s organization—believing that the PLO leadership was “too soft”—carried out several massacres [in northern Israel], notably the Avivim school-bus massacre in 1970 and the Kiryat Shmona massacre in 1974. During that interview in Damascus in 2006, Jibril’s eyes practically lit when he spoke of the Kiryat Shmona “operation,” in which terrorists from southern Lebanon entered a residential building and murdered eighteen men, women, and children.
While [Jibril] was busy producing advanced terror techniques and sending the bill to the Syrian regime, Israel was busy generating real innovations, in medicine, science, and high-tech. His political and military career had reached a cul-de-sac as his violent operations . . . did not promote the Palestinian cause of liberation and the establishment of an independent state even by one inch. His violent activity did not weaken Israel, and today the Jewish state is much more powerful—and accepted by much of the Arab world—than it was a few decades ago.