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December 20, 2016
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November 8, 2006
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October 26, 1972
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Approved For-ease 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R0096700500030016-0 Secret jfvvvl~ OFFICE OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES MEMORANDUM The Fedayeen-Politics of Spoiling Secret Copy No. Approved For Release 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved Felease 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R004000500030016-0 WARNING This document contains information affecting the national defense of the United States, within the meaning of Title 18, sections 793 and 794, of the US Code, as amended. Its transmission or revelation of its contents to or re- ceipt by an unauthorized person is prohibited by law. Approved For Release 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For lease 2007/0gDP79R0096-,74000500030016-0 CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY OFFICE OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES 26 October 1972 MEMORANDUM SUBJECT: The Fedayeen -- Politics of Spoiling 1. The spectacular terrorist attack against Israeli athletes in Munich in September and the massacre at Lod airport in May are examples of still another turn in the tortuous course of Palestinian fedayeen activity. The commandos had been on the defensive since their defeat by the Jordanian army in 1970 and their virtual expulsion from Jordan in 1971. They had lost the support of the public, Palestinians included. Developments in Jordan seriously damaged their capability to operate in the Arab world as well as in Israel, for Egypt and Syria have long imposed strict controls on operations against Israel from their * This memorandum was prepared by the office of National Estimates and discussed with other components of the CIA who are in general agreement with its judgments. Approved For Release 2007/03ft ilP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For Rase 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R009674JO500030016-0 SECRET territory. In the wake of Israeli raids against fedayeen areas in Lebanon, the Beirut government too has tightened restrictions on the guerrillas. In recent months extremists have gained influence among the fedayeen and more and more guerrillas have come to see terrorist operations outside Israel as their only remaining weapon. The new tactics have, in fedayeen eyes, been successful. This paper examines the implications of their growing resort to terror. The Black September Organization Z. The most notable manifestation of the trend toward terrorism has been the Black September Organization -- whose name derives from the date of King Husayn's defeat of the fedayeen in Jordan. Like the bulk of the Palestinian population, Black September fears that a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict would involve Arab concessions at the expense of the Palestinians. Black September goes further in believing that, through fostering acts of violence against King Husayn and his government as well as against Israel and its international supporters (principally the US), tension can be increased and the chances of nego- tiations reduced. 1 DP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For Release 2007/09/fit fE IA-D Approved For Rase 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R00967500030016-0 SECRET leadership is closely intertwined with that of Fatah. Indeed, it appears that Black September is simply a cover name that allows Fatah -- the largest and hereto- fore relatively most moderate guerrilla organization -- to disclaim responsibility for terrorist operations carried out by its members, While some question remains about the degree of control which Fatah's leaders have over Black September operations, there can be no doubt that they are aware of its plans. Black September apparently lacks formal structure and recruits teams for specific operations from the membership of various fedayeen groups as well as from Arab emigres and even non-Arabs. This provides the organization a large reservoir of potential recruits beyond a small core membership. 4, The Arab terrorists have established links with extremist organizations outside of the Arab world. Japanese sympathizers from the "Red Army Faction" have been trained at fedayeen camps in Syria and Lebanon; Approved For Release 2007 MROPRDP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved ForJease 2007/03/06: CIA-RDP79R0096W00500030016-0 SECRET a contingent. of these carried out the massacre at Lod airport at the end of May 1972.. Members of the Turkish People's Liberation Army trained by the Palestinians kidnapped and killed the Israeli consul general in Istanbul in May 1971. Turks may even have been involved in the Munich operation. Members of the Eritrean Libera- tion Front and. Iranian terrorists have also received training in the commando camps. Some exploratory contacts may have been made with a wing of the Irish Republican Army. It would appear, however, that as yet relationships between the fedayeen and other national, extremist groups have been principally on an ad hoc basis. But despite increased intgrnational security arrangements which may make it more difficult to operate, their common dilemma may encourage some of these organizations to collaborate with the fedayeen. S.. The fedayeen have had little return from their lengthy efforts to obtain direct support from the Soviets. The USSR has long provided arms to some guerrilla organi- zations through. the governments of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. This aid has contributed to terrorist operations, but the Kremlin'is uncomfortable about terrorism and has found Approved For Release 2007/0t1DP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For Rase 2007/03/06: CIA-RDP79R00967A500030016-0 SECRET direct contact with the guerrillas embarrassing. The fedayeen's growing turn toward terrorism of the Munich and Lod variety will probably make Moscow even more wary. At the UN in September Foreign Minister Gromyko explicitly condemned terrorist actions which culminated in Munich. Thus while Yasir Arafat and others have made several trips to Moscow to seek arms and assistance, the Soviets have not provided the requested aid. Instead they warned the fedayeen not to embark on hijackings and assassinations and have encouraged Arafat to line up the guerrillas behind a moderate approach. 6. Peking, for its part, has supplied some direct assistance to the fedayeen. Although the Chinese in the past have attempted to discourage the guerrillas from using terrorist tactics outside of Israel, some who received training in China have been involved in such operations. Military aid from China has been small in scale, consisting primarily of small arms and ammunition. Indeed, Chinese support for the fedayeen has not been of major significance. Approved For Release 2007/l j RDP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For Rase 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R00967J0500030016-0 SECRET Igrae1i Regction 7. The Israeli government has decided that the emphasis by the fedayeen on spectacular acts of terrorism requires new methods.onIsrael's part. Mrs. Meir has announced what amounts to a policy of striking at the fedayeen without waiting for a prior incident. Tel Aviv has always believed that forceful reaction against guerrilla bases located in neighboring Arab states would both discourage the fedayeen and, more important, induce the Arab host governments themselves to move against the commandos. The Israelis see King Husayn's blows against the guerrillas in 1970 and 1971 and present Lebanese restrictions on the fedayeen as the fruit of their forceful retaliation. Tel Aviv obviously hopes that anticipatory strikes will have even greater effect. 8. Israel faces problems, however, in pursuing its policy of hitting the fedayeen on Arab terrority. Guerrilla installations in Syria are now located well back of the present cease-fire lines. Hence, ground action against these bases would necessitate carrying out deep penetrations cracking the major Syrian defenses. Unquestionably, the Israeli armed forces have the capability to do this. But Approved For Release 2007/g2'=6iR~RDP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For jJeease 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R00967 00500030016-0 SECRET the Syrians have shown a propensity to return fire rather than to withdraw. This increases the chances that a raid would,not be quick and surgical but would result in more Israeli casualties than Tel Aviv is willing to take. Equally, Mrs, Meir would be reluctant to accept the embroilment with both the West and especially the USSR attendant on forays threatening Damascus or on operations against Beirut to clean out commando centers there. More- over, the small terrorist groups necessary for operations such as Lod or Munich could readily be trained virtually anywhere -- they need not go near large fedayeen camps. 9. The terrorists have achieved some of the aims of their recent series of spectacular acts. The attack in Munich at the time of the Olympics got them the spotlight they were seeking. It went some way toward demonstrating that the fedayeen were willing to do more than just talk against Israel. This gave the flagging guerrilla movement a shot in the arm, substantially raising the morale of the commandos. Also of great importance from Fatah's point of view, the recent wave of terrorism and the major Israeli Approved For Release 2007/0 /AbiDP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For lease 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R0096N 00500030016-0 SECRET retaliation it provoked further embittered Arab-Israeli relations. It further isolated Jordan, which alone of the Arab governments forthrightly condemned the terrorists. And finally, the fedayeen succeeded in shifting world attention from efforts to promote a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict to international efforts to combat terrorism. 10. The terrorists are clearly going to want to con- tinue the kind of activity which has won them this much. But their ability to do so and the rate at which they can proceed will depend on a number of factors. They will be much affected by the degree of encouragement -- or discouragement -- they receive from Arab governments. For in the final analysis they require the toleration if not the active support of at least a few Arab regimes. Israeli retaliation may also influence the course of terrorist activity, as will international measures to combat it. A number of states have taken stiff measures to restrict and scrutinize Arab travelers. Inevitably this will com- plicate plans for further terrorism. But it will not take much to keep the terrorist organizations alive. And a daring feat from time to time which evoked publicity and Approved For Release 2007/0 ft1f DP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For1lease 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R0096WW00500030016-0 SECRET response from the Israelis and/or the Arab governments would no doubt be sufficient to maintain momentum in the terrorist movement. 11. To date, most of the terrorist operations have struck against Israelis or Jordanians. The bombing of the partly American-owned trans-Alpine oil terminal at Trieste in August and the letter-bomb campaign, however, show that the guerrillas are determined to be more far ranging. In the future, therefore, the fedayeen may look for oppor- tunities to hit US diplomatic installations and/or kidnap or kill American officials around the world, perhaps even in the US. It is equally possible that they will seek to sabotage American oil installations abroad or perhaps overseas US military facilities where they judge security lax. Indeed, it would be surprising if the terrorists did not soon attempt a spectacular operation directed primarily against the US. 12. The Arab states adjoining Israel already effectively limit operations by the guerrillas across the border. But none save Jordan, whose regime is an avowed target of the fedayeen, is likely to move of its own accord to take the sort of forceful measures required to prevent terrorist Approved For Release 2007/ fDP79R00967A000500030016-0 'ftk Approved For RIO ase 2007/03/06: CIA-RDP79R00967~0500030016-0 SECRET activity, especially when it is carried out in non-Arab states. It would take great outside pressure to induce the Lebanese government, which shows the most signs of wanting to follow in Jordan's footsteps, to accept the political and economic costs of efforts to dislodge the #edayeen from Beirut itself. Indeed, the delicate balance on which the Beirut government depends might not be able to withstand the strains of an all-out operation to eliminate the Palestinian guerrillas. And, if pressed, the fedayeen could move their headquarters to Libya, which has increasingly encouraged the terrorists in recent months.. 13. Arab states further from Israel would strongly resist outside pressure to reduce their support for the Palestinian guerrillas. Libya, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, which supply the main financial backing to the fedayeen, are highly sensitive to any suggestion of being pressed on this issue. They do not consider the terrorist acts as more barbaric than Israel's actions against the Pales- tinians. King Faysal, for example, has expressed dis- pleasure at the Japanese government for its condemnation of Approved For Release 2007/O ftk DP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For Rase 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R00967AD p500030016-0 SECRET the fedayeen action at Munich. Libya's Qadhafi is even more emotional and has the financial resources to be impervious to outside economic pressures. Direct Israeli retaliation against Libya would also be exceedingly difficult and would only stiffen Qadhafi's determination. Thus the guerrillas almost certainly will continue to receive enough sympathy and support to carry on their campaign of terror at some level. 14. Fedayeen pride in the success of spectacular acts of terrorism will not induce greater cooperation among the rival guerrilla groups. Instead, Black Sep- tember successes may spur the Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other splinter groups to step up their own terrorist efforts in order to boost their own prestige. Even within Fatah itself, the rise of Black September is proving unsettling. It is strengthening the extrem- ists in Fatah who have long been pressing Arafat for greater influence. The Black September Organization will almost inevitably play a larger role in making Fatah policy. If the Black September leaders clash with the wider leadership in Fatah, they may even split off to form a wholly independent body. In any event, the growing Approved For Release 2007/ %ft ipfj 1R DP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved For R+ se 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R00967 0500030016-0 SECRET influence of the extremist faction will weaken the position of Yasir Arafat, who is already under fire for the failures in Jordan. Tt is not clear who would emerge if Arafat were actually displaced, but the chances of change in Fatah's leadership are growing. 15. ContOuing recourse to terror by the fddayeen will breed counter-terror by their opponents. Some Israelis themselves have frequently been tempted to retaliate in kind, particularly when they concluded that regular mili- tary operations were not enough reply to the terrorists. Thus it is possible that Tel Aviv may launch a major cam- paign to assassinate Arab guerrilla leaders, although through mechanisms that do not publicly implicate Israel. likely to initiate or expand its own terrorist operations against the fedayeen. 16. In sum, despite their defeat in conventional military encounters with Israel and in confrontations with Husayn, the fedayeen have shown that they cannot be counted out of the Middle East equation. They are certainly not Approved For Release 2007/gheR f2 DP79R00967A000500030016-0 Approved ForRelease 2007/03/06 : CIA-RDP79R0096W00500030016-0 SECRET likely tp make much headway in weakening the Israeli position in the Arab-Israeli conflict. But they still can play -- and are playing -- a spoiling role, in respect of negotiations toward a settlement. For they are able to provoke both the Arab governments, and especially the Israelis, into reactions that further embitter the con- flict. And they areable to concentrate the attention of the outside world on themselves rather than on parties to the conflict who are willing to entertain thoughts of compromise. 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