Assassination of Minister Rechavam Ze’evy –
Background on the PFLP

Jerusalem, 17 October 2001

1. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has assumed responsibility for the assassination on October 17, 2001, of Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze’evy.

2. The PFLP has a long and bloody record of terrorism and murder both inside Israel and abroad, including the Sept 6, 1970 hijacking of four Western jetliners to Jordan where they were blown up.

3. With the outbreak of violence in the territories, the organization perpetrated the following attacks inside Israel:

  • 8 February 2001 – A car-bomb exploded in Jerusalem wounding five Israeli citizens.
  • 21 March 2001 – A car bomb was discovered and neutralized in the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem. There were no casualties.
  • 23 April 2001 – A car-bomb exploded in Or Yehuda wounding four Israeli citizens.
  • 27 May 2001 – A car-bomb exploded in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound.
  • 1 June 2001 – A bomb exploded in Mevasseret Tzion.
  • 18 June 2001: A motorcycle-bomb was discovered in Haifa.
  • 2 July 2001 – Two car-bombs exploded in Yehud wounding 11 Israeli citizens. The cars, belonging to Israelis, were broken into the previous night and bombs rigged to be detonated though use of cellular phones were planted in the trunks.
  • 27 July 2001 – A bomb planted in a bus in the Malcha shopping mall was discovered during a security check in Jerusalem.
  • 22 August 2001 – A car-bomb exploded in Jerusalem.
  • 3 September 2001 – A car-bomb and three bombs exploded in Jerusalem wounding nine Israeli citizens.

4. The PFLP openly reiterated its policy of terror on August 27, 2001, when leaders of the met after the death of PFLP Secretary-General Abu Ali Mustafa and declared that the organization would not let the alleged "elimination" go unanswered and would target senior Israeli government members.

5. The Government of Israel, for its part, attempted to prevent future attacks by the PFLP by demanding that the Palestinian Authority arrest senior PFLP leaders. The list of 108 wanted terrorists – whose arrests were demanded buy Israel – included current PFLP Secretary-General Ahmed Saadat and PFLP miltant Aahed Awalmeh. However, they were not arrested by the PA.

Background

The Habash Front of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (Habash/PFLP) was founded in December 1967 by George Habash. Throughout most of its existence the organization combined Marxist ideology with Palestinian nationalism, and was one of the most extreme organizations in its "solution" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which employed political means and initiated the armed conflict.

In the first years of the organization it operated in the international arena, carrying out a long list of terrorist attacks, especially in and against aviation targets. The most outstanding terrorist attack from this period was the concurrent hijacking of four western passenger airliners to Jordan and then blowing them up (after releasing the passengers), an incident that comprised the beginning of "Black September" – the expulsion of Palestinian organizations from Jordan.

In 1973 the PFLP accepted a decision of the Palestinian National Council to stop carrying out terrorist activities abroad. This decision created a split between "The Front" (dissidents and believers of Hadad) who continued to carry out terrorist attacks in the international arena.

The central trend of George Habash remained with the decision of the Palestinian National Council and, since 1973, prevented operational activity in the international arena. The organization transferred its center of activities to an "internal" area and later to Lebanon. Over the following years the organization carried out a great number of terrorist attacks against Israeli targets "internally" and IDF and SLA targets in Lebanon (in this arena projected rockets have been fired on communities in northern Israel) and assumed a meaningful role in the Palestinian intifada.

Through these efforts Abu Ali Mustafa, who received permission to enter the Palestinian autonomous areas, was appointed General Secretary of the organization, replacing George Habash.

At the beginning of the current confrontations in the "territories" the PFLP participated in violent activities and carried out a long line of exhibitionist terror attacks including, most notably, nine car bombs (in Jerusalem, Or-Yehuda, Yehud, and Haifa), bombings, and shootings in the West Bank that killed two Israeli civilians.

After the killing of the General Secretary of the organization, Abu-Ali Mustafa (27 August 2001), a new General Secretary, Ahmed Sadat was elected (3 October 2001). Sadat is a leader in the extremist faction stream of the PFLP in the "territories" that is steadfast in continuing the armed conflict and rejects all of the Oslo accords. As part of this stance, senior activists of the organization were quoted (27 August 2001) declaring that "The PLFP will not allow the death of Abu Ali Mustafa to pass without a response, but will respond with the assassination of senior members of the Israeli government" and that the "Front will repel Israel from continuing in its attacks against senior Palestinians."

Abu Ali Mustafa

1. Mustafa Ali Kasam Zabiri, also known as Abu Ali Mustafa – born in Araba in the Jenin district, was chosen general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP/Habash) following the resignation of the previous general secretary and founder of the organization, George Habash (May 2000). Mustafa acted as a member of the Political Bureau and the Central Committee of the organization. He also served as a member of the Central Council of the PLO and the Palestinian National Council.

2. Mustafa was a veteran of the PLO and was politically active since the 60’s, considered to be an extremist and Pro-Syrian. He was against the Oslo agreements and supported the military struggle against Israel. In an interview that was granted to the Al-Kuds newspaper in ’96, Mustafa stated that he would not even consider integrating his organization in the Palestinian Authority, due to the difference in opinions between the two bodies.

3. With the beginning of the current conflict Mustafa returned to support the "armed struggle", and his organization began executing extensive terrorist operations, part of which took place within Israeli territory.

4. Important points in his life and organizational activity:

  • 1966 – Was a member of the Commune Alarab movement, member of the PLO.
  • 1969 – Military representative in the PFLP/Habash in Jordan.
  • 1971 – Began operating in Lebanon.
  • 1972 – Was connected with the Lufthanza plane hijacking (ran the negotiations on behalf of the terrorists).
  • 1975 – Military representative and member of the Central Committee.
  • 1981 – Member of the Political Bureau, spent time in Syria.
  • 1987 – Was appointed member of the Executive Council of the PLO.
  • 1996 – Was appointed in charge of internal operations of the organization.
  • September 1999 – Returned to the Palestinian Authority territories.
  • May 2000 – Abu Ali Mustafa was appointed General Secretary of the organization after the resignation of George Habash.

Ahmed Sadat – Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

1. Ahmed Sadat, a member of the Political Bureau of the PFLP in the West Bank, was elected (October 3) as Secretary General of the organization following the killing of Abu Ali Mustafa (August 27).

2. Sadat, a leader of the extreme faction of the PFLP in the territories, supports the continuation of the armed struggle and staunchly opposes the Oslo Accords. He sees himself loyal to the "original" principles of the PFLP (of George Habash),and since the outbreak of the current violence, has stood out as the one directing the organization’s terrorist attacks along with Ahad Olma (a senior terrorist operative).

3. The choosing of Sadat expresses the radicalization of the PFLP’s policy, especially following the killing of their leader Abu Ali Mustafa. His position as Secretary General has lead to an increase in the PFLP’s involvement in carrying out terrorist attacks, and the brushing aside of the "pragmatic" faction of the organization, that attempted to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority.