Showing posts with label PLO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PLO. Show all posts

Monday, 24 August 2015

Ted Heath and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

from Spike1138 on Vimeo.

Q: What is 'droning an aircraft'?

Wayne Madsen : "Well, taking a commercial plane and putting drone technology on it so that you can fly it remotely... And Lufthansa, apparently, had developed that technology back with their anti-hijacking efforts, back when they had a couple of planes hijacked by Palestinians.."

"Leila Khaled freed after US pressure

Edward Heath was pushed by the US into exchanging the iconic Palestinian guerrilla fighter Leila Khaled for dozens of western hostages after the world's most spectacular multiple aircraft hijacking in September 1970."

Muammar Qaddafi: I am actually puzzled. I mean, if America were serious about eliminating terrorism, the first capital it should rock with cruise missiles is London. 

Interviewer: London!? 

Qaddafi: London. It is the center of terrorism. It gives safehousing to the terrorists. I mean, as long as America does not bomb London, I think the US is not serious, and is using a double standard. I mean, on the contrary, London is far more dangerous than Kabul. How could it rock Kabul with missiles and leave London untouched? 

October 25, 2001

" During the last thirty years of the twentieth century, protective security became a steadily more important part of the Security Service’s counterterrorist strategy. But the change occurred gradually and it began slowly. 

At Furnival Jones’s first meeting with Edward Heath in July 1970, he raised the subject of protective security exclusively in the context of counterespionage. During a wide-ranging survey of Service priorities, the DG mentioned terrorism only briefly, and solely in the context of Northern Ireland. Whitehall, for its part, was unenthusiastic about a major extension of protective security in any context. When FJ stressed its role as a ‘security weapon against espionage’, Burke Trend intervened to say that this was a ‘vexed question’ in the civil service. FJ believed, no doubt correctly, that what really concerned Whitehall was the fact that ‘the complexity and cost of protective security were both very large.’

PFLP terrorism, however, made clear the need for greatly improved aircraft security. On 6 September 1970 the PFLP hijacked four airliners bound for New York (a feat unequalled by any other terrorist organization until the Al Qaida hijacks on 11 September 2001) and took them to a remote former RAF airbase in Jordan known as Dawson’s Field. 

Wadi Haddad gave the most difficult assignment on the day of the hijacks to the world’s best-known female terrorist, Leila Khaled, still photogenic despite plastic surgery to change her appearance after her first hijack a year earlier, and the Nicaraguan-American Patrick Arguello, who together posed as a newly married couple. Their aircraft, an El Al Boeing 707 departing from Tel Aviv, was the only one of the four which carried an air marshal. Though they succeeded in smuggling aboard both handguns and grenades, the hijack failed. Arguello was shot dead by the air marshal and Khaled, who was prevented by other passengers from removing grenades hidden in her bra, was arrested when the plane made an emergency landing at Heathrow.

The hijackers aboard a TWA Boeing 707 and a Swissair DC-8, however, successfully diverted their aircraft to Dawson’s Field, which they promptly renamed ‘Revolution Airstrip’. A hijacked Pan Am Boeing 747, which was discovered to be too large to land at the Airstrip, was forced to land instead at Cairo where passengers and crew were evacuated and the aircraft blown up. 

A fifth plane, a BOAC VC-10, was hijacked three days later and flown to the Airstrip to provide the PFLP with British hostages. As the PFLP had planned, the hostages were eventually exchanged for Khaled and six Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in West Germany and Switzerland.

The aircraft were destroyed by the hijackers. 

Discussions within Whitehall about how to deal with future hijacks were confused and sometimes bizarre. The future cabinet secretary Richard Wilson, then working in the Private Office of the Minister for Civil Aviation, recalls ‘surreal discussions’ which included the use of blow-darts to overpower hijackers.

The September hijackings swiftly led to further mayhem in the Middle East. King Hussein of Jordan, infuriated by the hijacking of aircraft to a Jordanian airfield and by the emergence of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), led by Yasir Arafat, as a virtually independent state within his kingdom, used the Jordanian army to drive it out. Thousands of Palestinians were killed during what became known as Black September. A shadowy terrorist organization of that name was set up within Arafat’s Fatah movement at the heart of the PLO when it regrouped in Lebanon. 

Following the hijacks, the JIC concluded that the danger to UK interests from Arab terrorism had ‘significantly increased’. A series of JIC and MI5 assessments over the next month envisaged the possibility of further hijackings, kidnappings, sabotage of aircraft, ships and oil terminals in the Persian Gulf, and armed attacks on tankers in the Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean. 

The Home Secretary was informed that, as ‘the responsible authority for advice on counter sabotage’, the Security Service, sometimes acting in conjunction with the MPSB, the DTI and the armed services, had provided protective-security advice at oil installations in the Gulf as well as in the United Kingdom.

For almost two years, however, aircraft and airports seemed the only British interests at serious risk from Arab terrorists. The C Branch Assistant Director responsible for counter-sabotage, Cecil Shipp (a future DDG), took the initiative in the creation of the National Aviation Security Committee, whose first meeting took place in May 1971 with representatives of the police, the British Airports Authority (BAA), the principal airlines and trade unions. 

C4 officers provided a comprehensive threat assessment and took the lead in discussions on counter-measures. Agreement was reached with BAA that security surveys should be carried out by C4, beginning at Heathrow, and that the implementation of protective security required effective supervision.

On 14 December 1971 MPSB reported information that a group of PFLP terrorists had arrived in London with plans ‘either to hijack a plane or to assassinate members of the Jordanian Royal Family’. 

The target, however, turned out to be the Jordanian ambassador. Next day, as the ambassador’s car was passing down Holland Street, Kensington, a bystander saw ‘a young man pull a Sten gun from under his coat’: ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes. He levelled it at hip level and pulled the trigger and fired about 40 rounds . . . It was like a scene out of a Chicago film.’

The ambassador, remarkably, escaped with an injury to one hand.

Like earlier PFLP attacks in London, the attempted assassination was not planned as a direct attack on British interests. Changes in the Whitehall machinery for dealing with intelligence on terrorism owed far more to the resumption during 1972 of PFLP attacks on aircraft and airports than to the attempt on the life of the ambassador. 

On 8 May four PFLP hijackers diverted a Belgian Sabena aircraft to Tel Aviv’s Lod Airport, where they demanded the release of 317 jailed Palestinians. In the first ever assault on a hijacked plane, Israeli special forces disguised as airport workers freed the passengers and killed or captured the hijackers. 

The successful counter-terrorist operation at Lod provided evidence of contingency planning in Israel of a kind which did not yet exist in Britain. Haddad, however, took a terrible revenge. 

On 31 May three members of the Japanese Red Army Faction working for the PFLP walked into the baggage-reclaim area at Lod Airport, removed two suitcases from the conveyor belt, took from them grenades and machine guns, killed twenty-six passengers, most of them Puerto Rican Catholic pilgrims, and wounded seventy-six others. 

The Lod massacre shocked the Security Service into undertaking a major reappraisal of aviation security, which had hitherto concentrated on preventing hijacks rather than protecting airports. By the end of the year C4 had completed a survey of security at thirteen British airports.

Counter-terrorism, however, was not as yet a major priority either of the Heath government or of the Security Service. As the Special Air Service (SAS) officer Peter de la Billière (later Director SAS) noted, the government was more concerned about industrial unrest than about the terrorist threat. After the Lod massacre de la Billière ordered the preparation of a paper on the use of the SAS for counter-terrorist operations. Once forwarded to the MoD, however, the paper was quietly shelved.

For a brief period in the early 1970s the Security Service feared that Britain, like some continental countries, was developing its own homegrown international terrorist group. 

On 12 January 1971 two bombs exploded at the Hertfordshire home of the Secretary of State for Employment, Robert Carr. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by a group calling itself the Angry Brigade which declared in a communiqué: ‘Robert Carr got it tonight. We’re getting closer.’ 

‘Before Carr’s house was bombed,’ wrote Britain’s best-known anarchist, Stuart Christie, ‘nobody had heard of the Angry Brigade. Now, overnight, it had become headline news and every pundit had his own explanation of its origin.’ "

Christopher Andrew 
The Defence of the Realm : 
The Authorized History of MI5

Leila Khaled freed after US pressure

Edward Heath was pushed by the US into exchanging the iconic Palestinian guerrilla fighter Leila Khaled for dozens of western hostages after the world's most spectacular multiple aircraft hijacking in September 1970.

Khaled was at the centre of a crisis sparked by the seizure of five civilian airliners by the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. 

The PFLP blew up three of the aircraft for the television cameras at a disused RAF airstrip in the Jordanian desert, and 56 US and European passengers were used to bargain for the release of seven Palestinian prisoners in Britain, Germany and Switzerland. 

One was Khaled, who had been handed over to the British authorities at Heathrow after an attempt to commandeer an El Al flight was foiled and her fellow hijacker, Patrick Arguello, a Nicaraguan, was shot dead by Israeli guards. 
The decision to trade Khaled three weeks later was criticised by the Tory right and defended by Heath supporters on the grounds that prosecution might have failed because of a lack of evidence that the hijack attempt took place over British soil. 

But the state papers show that Heath told the cabinet less than three days after her capture that he had "acquiesced in a US proposal authorising the Red Cross to offer the release of Leila Khaled, together with the terrorists held by the Swiss and German authorities, in exchange for the hostages and aircraft held at Dawson's Field". 

Heath's personal file - which occupies more than 50 pages of cabinet minutes - includes a letter written by Khaled, from Ealing police station in west London, to her mother, describing her routine and promising to "return soon". 

She was treated well,"as if I were an official state guest", she wrote, adding: "I do not worry about myself... The only thing that grieves and hurts me today is that I am not now carrying arms and am not sharing with my people in the battle.

Khaled, who later became a member of the Palestinian parliament and now lives in Amman, was referring to the war then erupting in Jordan between King Hussein's army and the increasingly powerful Palestinian resistance. 

In a confidential annex, an astonished Heath told his cabinet that King Hussein had appealed through Britain's ambassador in Amman "for an air strike by Israel". In discussion with the ambassador, King Hussein described Colonel Muammar Gadafy, president of Libya, as a "nutcase" and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as a "criminal".

Leila Khaled's false Honduras passport