US embassy cable - 86DAMASCUS3266

TALKING ABOUT ABU NIDAL

Identifier: 86DAMASCUS3266
Wikileaks: View 86DAMASCUS3266 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Damascus
Created: 1986-05-27 11:35:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PTER PREL SY LE IS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 271135Z MAY 86
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5472
C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 03266 
 
 
TERREP 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PTER, PREL, SY, LE, IS 
SUBJ:  TALKING ABOUT ABU NIDAL 
 
REF:   STATE 165238 
 
1.    CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT 
 
2.    THE RECENT INSTRUCTION TO ATHENS CONCERNING 
ABU NIDAL ACTIVITIES IN SYRIA PROMPTS US TO SUGGEST 
SOME ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS FOR POSSIBLE FUTURE USE 
IN DISCUSSING THIS DIFFICULT SUBJECT WITH FRIENDS 
AND ALLIES. 
 
3.    WE HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE HERE OF CONTACTS BY 
ABU NIDAL REPRESENTATIVES WITH SYRIAN INTELLIGENCE 
OR WITH ABU NIDAL OPERATIVES WHO PASS THROUGH SYRIA, 
SO IT IS DIFFICULT TO SUGGEST THAT THE TWO 
OFFICES HERE ACT AS A BASE OF SUPPORT FOR ABU NIDAL 
OPERATIONS. 
 
4.    HOWEVER, IN TWO OTHER IMPORTANT WAYS, ABU 
NIDAL FIGURES IN DAMASCUS SEEM TO WORK HAND IN GLOVE 
WITH THE MAIN BODY OF THIS TERRORIST ORGANIZATION 
IN LIBYA.  FIRST, LOCAL EUROPEAN EMBASSIES IN 
DAMASCUS HAVE RECEIVED VISITS OF LOCAL ABU NIDAL 
OFFICIALS IN THE AFTERMATH OF ATROCITIES IN AUSTRIA, 
ITALY, FRANCE AND PERHAPS ELSEWHERE.  THE LINE IS 
INVARIABLY THE SAME, VERY SOFTLY BUT FIRMLY SUGGEST 
THAT THE DEATHS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE IS REGRETTABLE 
BUT THE ABU NIDAL ORGANIZATION HAS EVERY RIGHT 
TO CARRY OUT SUCH ACTIVITIES AGAINST ISRAELI 
TARGETS.  THEN, IN SOME VERY CAREFUL, INDIRECT 
SENTENCES, THE OFFICIALS SUGGEST THAT IT SHOULD 
BE POSSIBLE TO AVOID FUTURE OPERATIONS OF THIS 
SORT BY REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS.  NO TERMS HAVE 
BEEN SET IN THE INSTANCES WE KNOW OF AND EXPLICIT 
OFFERS OF NEGOTIATIONS HAVE NOT BEEN MADE.  INSTEAD, 
THE DOOR IS OPENED.  IT IS INTERESTING BY-PRODUCT, 
AND MAYBE A COINCIDENTAL ONE, THAT WITH ABU NIDAL 
REPS IN DAMASCUS EUROPEANS INVARIABLY ASK SYRIA 
TO INTERVENE WITH ABU NIDAL AND HELP THEM RESOLVE 
THEIR PROBLEMS WITH TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS. 
THE PRESENCE OF THESE ABU NIDAL OFFICES IN DAMASCUS, 
THEREFORE, SERVES TO SUBTLY ENHANCE THE OPPORTUNITIES 
SYRIA HAS TO PLAY A DIPLOMATIC ROLE. 
 
5.   THE OTHER FUNCTION OF THESE OFFICES IS INDEED 
CULTURAL AND INFORMATIONAL, AS PRESIDENT ASAD HAS 
CLAIMED, AND IT CONSISTS OF ABU NIDAL REPS HANGING 
OUT IN LOCAL HOTELS AND COLLARING FOREIGN JOURNALISTS 
AND OFFICIALS.  INTERVIEWS ARE OFFERED IN THE BIQA', 
ALONG WITH ESCORTS AND GUARANTEES OF SAFETY.  ONE 
CBS CREW VISITING DAMASCUS IN THE PAST WEEK SPOKE 
QUITE FRANKLY OF THEIR DISCUSSIONS IN THE SHERATON 
ALONG THESE LINES AND SAID THAT IF AN APPROPRIATE 
INTERVIEW WERE ARRANGED, THAT IS WITH AN APPROPRIATE 
OFFICIAL, CBS WOULD TAKE ITS CAMERA CREW IMMEDIATELY. 
HOWEVER, SYRIANS DO NOT NECESSARILY APPROVE THESE 
CONTACTS BY ABU NIDAL REPRESENTATIVES, AND HAVE ACTED 
QUITE HARSHLY AGAINST SOME JOURNALISTS WHO HAVE TRIED 
TO FOLLOW THEM UP, BUT THE FACT REMAINS THAT SYRIA 
PROVIDES ABU NIDAL WITH A PULPIT AND A STAGE WHICH 
WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO REPRODUCE ELSEWHERE. 
 
 
RANSOM 

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