The Other Terrorist War

Palestinian Versus Palestinian

by Bruce Hoffman


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This paper originally appeared in the "Comment" section of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner on January 5, 1986. It discusses the terrorist attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports, responsibility for which has been laid to Abu Nidal's renegade Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) splinter group. It traces the history of the relationship between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Abu Nidal, who share similar backgrounds and worked closely as associates in the PLO until 1974, when Arafat concluded that Palestinian goals could best be achieved through diplomacy. The author contends that the attacks represent Nidal's defiance of a ban on terrorist operations outside of Israel and the occupied territories that Arafat issued as a result of the embarrassment caused by the Achille Lauro hijacking. Nidal chose Italy and Austria, two countries that have formally recognized the PLO, as targets for attacks in order to undermine Arafat's leadership and his effectiveness as a negotiator of a settlement to the Palestinian question.

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