'I Call Him the World's Longest-Living Terrorist'

J$P Instant Transcript! Daniel Pipes and Scott Johnson of Powerline on Arafat's murderous background.

From Fox News Live, November 7 2004:

ERIC SHAWN [FOX NEWS]: An aide to Yasser Arafat now denies the Palestinian leader is in a coma. While he is gravely ill, there are new questions emerging about his past. Did he actually order the murder of two American diplomats back in 1973? That’s when Black September terrorists stormed an embassy in the Sudan. US Ambassador Cleo Noel and charge d’affaires George Curtis Moore both executed by the terrorists. But James Welsh was a National Security Council analyst on the case, who says there are audio tapes that point to the man responsible.

JAMES WELSH [NSA ANALYST]: This is a person who ordered the execution of two US diplomats, in effect an act of war against the United States of America. And doesn’t anybody know about it? I think I was rather naive, perhaps, in my shock about thinking that no one knew about this.

SHAWN: Well what does this mean for Arafat’s legacy? Here now is Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum from Philadelphia, and Scott Johnson of Powerline who’s written about this for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Scott, let me start with you sir. Are there these tapes, and what do they show?

SCOTT JOHNSON [POWERLINE]: Well on March 2nd, 1973, Yasser Arafat transmitted by shortwave radio orders to eight Black September operatives who were holding Ambassador Noel and his deputy Curt Moore hostage in the basement of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. He issued orders to murder them under the code name Cold River twice, on the evening of March 2nd. And those two American diplomats had 40 bullets pumped into them by these Black September operatives on the direct order of Yasser Arafat. Now those orders were intercepted by American intelligence and by Israeli intelligence. Following the assassination, the State Department files reflecting a lot of this information, including the audio tapes that Jim Welsh is referring to, were cleansed from the files, about 1974 it appears. But there’s a lot of evidence reflecting that information in State Department cables that have survived the cleansing of the files. I got copies of 27 State Department files previously classified released to me last year under Freedom of Information Act requests that reflects Secretary of State Rogers’s advice to American embassies throughout the world that those diplomats had been ordered murdered, on the order of Yasser Arafat, and that that was a PLO operation.

SHAWN: Well Scott, the White House and the State Department in the past has said no comment, or they say there’s no proof. Why is that?

JOHNSON: That’s been something of a mystery to me. I have actually in the past turned to Daniel Pipes for some advice about what’s the deal with the State Department. I frankly don’t understand it. It seems like the United States has reasons of state in now having to deal with Yasser Arafat since he was reinstalled as some kind of a statesman, supposedly, although he continued his old ways.

SHAWN: All right, Daniel Pipes, we’re close on time so Daniel Pipes, you’ve dealt with Arafat, you’ve studied him. What do you think about this case and about his legacy if these tapes are there?

DANIEL PIPES [MIDDLE EAST FORUM]: These tapes look pretty solid. The fact that he is a murderer going back to the 1950s is pretty solid. I call him the world’s longest-lived terrorist. I think the State Department for some decades has been interested in having the PLO as a partner for Israel, and has been apologizing for it and making things look not so bad for Arafat for a very long time.

SHAWN: But to his people he’s the great hero, he’s the founder of the movement.

PIPES: Well, he was a greater hero before he came and he ruled over them. In the last ten years he’s actually been the ruler of the Palestinian authority, and as you probably know there’s a lot of dissent, a lot of unhappiness, a lot of anger about his corruption, his endorsement of violence. He’s been terrible for the Palestinians. So the adulation in which they held him is much tempered now.

SHAWN: And we’re out of time, but very briefly, Scott, do you think these tapes will surface?

JOHNSON: Israeli intelligence gave us copies of their intercepts in the year 2001. I don’t see any reason why those tapes won’t emerge following Arafat’s death.

SHAWN: All right, we’ll see if they do and if indeed that happens. Daniel Pipes, thank you very much as always, and Scott Johnson, on this intriguing situation, and we will certainly keep up with this story. Thank you both.

JOHNSON: Thanks for having us, Eric.

posted: Sun - November 7, 2004 at 11:58 AM       j$p  send