US embassy cable - 90STATE182269

REPORT THAT ABU NIDAL IS IN IRAQ

Identifier: 90STATE182269
Wikileaks: View 90STATE182269 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Secretary of State
Created: 1990-06-06 14:26:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PTER IR LI UK SU IZ
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 061426Z JUN 90
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
AMEMBASSY TUNIS
AMEMBASSY CAIRO
AMEMBASSY AMMAN
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS
AMEMBASSY RIYADH
AMEMBASSY ROME
AMEMBASSY LONDON
S E C R E T  STATE 182269 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PTER, IR, LI, UK, SU, IZ 
SUBJECT:  REPORT THAT ABU NIDAL IS IN IRAQ 
 
1. (S) FOLLOWING FOR POSTS' INFORMATION IS AN 
UNCONFIRMED REPORT THAT ABU NIDAL IS PRESENTLY IN 
BAGHDAD AND OTHER INFORMATION ON THE ABU NIDAL 
ORGANIZATION (ANO) PROVIDED BY A FRENCH 
COUNTER-TERRORISM EXPERT.  THE INFORMATION THAT ABU 
NIDAL IS CURRENTLY IN BAGHDAD IS AT SHARP VARIANCE WITH 
INFORMATION PROVIDED RECENTLY BY THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT 
AND AVAILABLE TO US FROM OTHER SOURCES DEEMED RELIABLE. 
THE INFORMATION TRACKS CLOSELY WITH PLO-GENERATED RUMORS 
CIRCULATING IN BAGHDAD IN LATE MAY.  THESE RUMORS 
ASSERTED THAT ABU NIDAL HAD BEEN REFUSED ENTRY INTO IRAQ. 
 
2. (S) HOWEVER, GIVEN HIGH PRIORITY USG ATTACHES TO 
PUTTING ABU NIDAL OUT OF BUSINESS AND GOOD PAST 
INFORMATION FROM THIS SOURCE, WE WANTED TO SHARE HIS 
INFORMATION AND ASSESSMENT OF THE ANO.  RECENT ATTACKS 
AGAINST ANO DISSIDENTS IN ALGERIA AND SYRIA SUGGEST THAT 
THE ANO MAY BE TRYING TO RE-ESTABLISH ITS TERRORIST 
CREDENTIALS AND PLANNING OTHER ATTACKS.  DEPARTMENT IS 
PARTICULARLY EAGER TO KEEP THE ANO ISOLATED AND OFF 
BALANCE.  DEPARTMENT WANTS TO MAINTAIN OR INCREASE 
EXISTING PRESSURE ON LIBYA AND ANY OTHER POTENTIAL STATE 
SPONSORS TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES CLEARLY FROM THIS 
TERRORIST GROUP.  POSTS ARE REQUESTED TO KEEP ANO ON 
TERRORISM AGENDA WITH HOST GOVERNMENTS, STRESSING ITS 
BLOODY TERRORIST RECORD AND THE NEED FOR ALL STATES TO 
WORK TOGETHER TO PUT THE ANO OUT OF BUSINESS AND TO KEEP 
ITS MEMBERS ON THE RUN.  LONDON AND KHARTOUM SEE ACTION 
REQUEST PARA 8. 
 
3. (C) SOURCE IS A PRIVATE FRENCH COUNTER-TERRORISM 
EXPERT WHO HAS EXCELLENT CONTACTS WITH EUROPEAN 
INTELLIGENCE SERVICES AND MIDDLE EASTERN GROUPS.  IN 
MARCH, EXPERT REPORTED CONTACTS BETWEEN THE ABU NIDAL 
ORGANIZATION (ANO) AND IRAQ TO DISCUSS BOTH THE 
POSSIBILITY OF MOVING ANO OPERATIONS TO BAGHDAD AND THE 
STATUS OF ABU NIDAL'S PROPERTY (CHICKEN FARMS) IN IRAQ. 
AT THAT TIME, HIS SOURCES SAID IRAQ HAD POLITELY REFUSED 
TO READMIT THE ANO.  SIMILAR INFORMATION WAS 
SUBSEQUENTLY REPORTED IN OTHER CHANNELS. 
 
4. (C) BEGIN CURRENT REPORT OF FRENCH TERRORISM EXPERT: 
ACCORDING TO TWO NON-PALESTINIAN SOURCES -- ONE OF WHOM 
WAS IN IRAQ WEEK OF MAY 28, ABU NIDAL HAD VERY RECENTLY 
ARRIVED IN BAGHDAD FOR QUOTE HEALTH TREATMENTS END 
QUOTE.  HE IS NOT PARTICULARLY ILL, BUT IS SPENDING TIME 
IN A HOSPITAL FOR REST GIVEN HIS GENERALLY WEAKENED 
PHYSICAL STATE.  THE MOVE IS THE RESULT OF PRESSURE ON 
LIBYA FROM ITS NORTH AFRICAN NEIGHBORS AND ABU NIDAL'S 
DESIRE TO FIND A NEW BASE OF OPERATIONS.  THERE IS NO 
WORD AS TO HOW LONG THE HEALTH TREATMENTS WILL TAKE OR 
IF IRAQ HAS AUTHORIZED ABU NIDAL TO PLAN OR LAUNCH 
OPERATIONS WHILE IN IRAQ. 
 
5. (C) THE LATE APRIL ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF ANO 
DISSIDENT ISA IN ALGIERS GENERATED A MINI-GOVERNMENTAL 
CRISIS IN ALGIERS.  FIRST, THE ASSAILANTS SOUGHT REFUGE 
IN THE HOME OF THE FORMER CHIEF OF MILITARY INTELLIGENCE 
AND HID THERE FOR TWO DAYS BEFORE BEING DISCOVERED. 
THIS SPARKED A SHARP DEBATE ABOUT HOW INVOLVED THE 
FORMER ALGERIAN OFFICIAL HAD BEEN IN THE ATTACK.  WHEN 
THE ALGERIANS DETAINED THE ASSAILANTS AND PROTESTED TO 
ANO, ABU NIDAL SENT BACK CLEAR THREATS TO TAKE COUNTER 
HOSTAGES, AMONG OTHER THINGS.  THE ALGERIANS THEN 
PROTESTED TO QADAFHI, ARGUING THAT IT WAS COMPLETELY 
UNACCEPTABLE FOR LIBYA TO ALLOW SUCH OPERATIONS TO BE 
LAUNCHED AND SUCH THREATS TO BE MADE FROM ITS TERRITORY 
AGAINST LIBYA'S NEIGHBORS, ESPECIALLY IN AN ERA OF 
REGIONAL INTEGRATION.  TUNISIA MADE SIMILAR STRONG 
DEMARCHES, GIVEN WORRIES THAT ANO WOULD LAUNCH ATTACKS 
AGAINST ANO DISSIDENTS IN TUNIS.  (EXPERT NOTED THAT ANO 
HAD LAUNCHED OPERATIONS AGAINST DISSIDENTS ELSEWHERE AS 
PART OF AN EFFORT TO DEMONSTRATE THAT IT IS STILL VITAL.) 
 
6. (C) GIVEN THIS PRESSURE, LIBYAN LEADER QADHAFI "GAVE 
HIS PERMISSION" FOR ABU NIDAL TO LEAVE LIBYA.  EXPERT 
SPECULATES THAT QADHAFI MAY HAVE INTERVENED WITH SADDAM 
HUSSEIN TO WIN PERMISSION FOR THE QUOTE MEDICAL END 
QUOTE VISIT BY ABU NIDAL TO BAGHDAD. 
 
7. (C) FRENCH EXPERT ADDED THAT IRAQ'S REPORTED DECISION 
TO ACCEPT AN ABU NIDAL VISIT FITS WITH THE GENERAL 
HARDENING OF ITS STANCE ON THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN 
QUESTION.  HE SAID FROM SEPARATE SOURCES HE HAS BEEN 
TOLD THAT AHMED JABRIL SENT A REPRESENTATIVE TO IRAQ FOR 
TALKS ABOUT OPENING AN OFFICE.  NO DECISION HAS 
REPORTEDLY BEEN MADE, BUT JABRIL'S MOVE HAS GENERATED A 
GOOD DEAL OF CONCERN IN DAMASCUS, EXPERT WAS TOLD. 
 
8. (C) EXPERT SAID CONTRARY TO THE POSITIVE SPIN WHICH 
PLO LEADER ABU IYAD PUTS ON HIS INFORMATION ABOUT THE 
ANO, THIS TERRORIST GROUP IS REGAINING STRENGTH AND 
POSES A SERIOUS THREAT.  HE SAYS ANO HAS BEEN PRESSURING 
THE NEW GOVERNMENT IN SUDAN AND THAT THE FIVE ANO 
TERRORISTS HELD THERE WILL REPORTEDLY SOON BE RELEASED. 
(SOURCE ADDED THAT CURRENT SUDANESE GOVERNMENT IN MORE 
FAVORABLY DISPOSED TO ANTI-ISRAELI GROUPS, PARTICULARLY 
THOSE WITH AN ISLAMIC ORIENTATION, THAN PREVIOUS 
REGIME.  THE PALESTINE ISLAMIC JIHAD (PIJ), FOR EXAMPLE, 
REPORTEDLY HAS AN ACTIVE CELL IN THE SUDAN APPARENTLY 
WITH TACIT SUDANESE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT, AND HE SAYS, AND 
PLANS TO BEGIN TRAINING THERE.)  BELGIUM IS ABOUT TO 
SUCCUMB TO ANO PRESSURES TO RELEASE SAYD NASR AND 
PERHAPS PAY A RANSOM TO GET THE REMAINING SILCO HOSTAGES 
BACK, HE SAYS.  END COMMENTS OF FRENCH TERRORISM EXPERT. 
 
9. (C) FOR KHARTOUM AND LONDON: WOULD APPRECIATE UPDATE 
ON STATUS OF THE ACROPOLE/SUDAN CLUB FIVE ANO 
PRISONERS.  YOU MAY CITE AN UNCONFIRMED REPORT OF NEW 
ANO PRESSURE ON THE SUDANESE GOVERNMENT AND A POSSIBLE 
RELEASE IN MAKING THIS APPROACH.  WOULD ALSO APPRECIATE 
EMBASSY KHARTOUM'S VIEW ON SUDANESE GOVERNMENT'S 
ATTITUDE TOWARD TERRORISM AND ON REPORTED PRESENCE OF 
TERRORIST GROUPS, SUCH AS PIJ, IN SUDAN. 
 
 
KIMMITT 

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