Ali Hassan Salameh
Born 1940
Qula, British Mandate for Palestine
Died January 22, 1979
Beirut, Lebanon
Allegiance PLO
Black September
Years of service 1958–1979
Rank Chief of operations
Battles/wars Munich Massacre

Ali Hassan Salameh (Template:Lang-ar, Template:Transl) (1940 – January 22, 1979) was the chief of operations—code name Abu Hassan—for Black September, the organization responsible for the 1972 Munich massacre and other attacks. He was also the founder of Force 17. He was assassinated by Mossad in January 1979.[1]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Salameh was born in the Palestinian town of Qula during the British mandate, to a wealthy family. He was the son of Shaykh Hassan Salameh, who was killed in action by the Israel Defence Forces during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, north of Jaffa. He was educated in Germany and is thought to have received his military training in Cairo and Moscow.

He was known for flaunting his wealth, surrounded by women and driving sports cars, and had a very popular appeal among Palestinian young men; his nickname underlined his popularity — the "Red Prince.". After it was alleged that he organized what is known as the Munich Massacre during the 1972 Olympic Games, he was hunted by the Israeli Mossad during Operation Wrath of God. In 1973, Mossad killed an innocent Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchiki, in what became known as the Lillehammer affair in Norway, mistaking Bouchiki for Salameh, and resulting in the arrest of some of the Israeli agents.

As a result of the failure of Lillehammer and his alleged CIA protection, Salameh felt relatively safe, and hence didn't act like a man on the run. Having lived under cover in various parts of the Middle East and Europe, in 1978 he married Georgina Rizk, a Lebanese celebrity who had been Miss Universe seven years earlier in 1971. The couple spent their honeymoon in Hawaii and then stayed at Disneyland, California. When Rizk became pregnant, she returned to her flat in Beirut, Lebanon, where Salameh also rented a separate apartment. By a prior marriage he was a grandson-in-law of Mohammad Amin al-Husayni

According to several sources, Salameh served as a secret contact between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1970 until his death, guaranteeing not to assassinate US citizens in exchange for financial and political support. However, when asked by the Israelis, the relationship was denied by US officials.[2] He helped protect US citizens in Beirut, and his role was to facilitate contacts between the Palestinians and the US, in hope of obtaining US support for the Palestinians.[3][1]

Death[edit | edit source]

It is believed[4] a Mossad agent, pseudonymously known as "Erika Chambers", a British citizen, took part in Salameh's assassination. She travelled to the Middle East with a charity supporting Palestinian refugees and arranged a meeting with Salameh in Beirut, where Salameh was being harbored by the Lebanese government. Chambers learned Salameh's daily routine.

On January 22, 1979, Salameh was in a convoy of two Chevrolet station wagons headed from Rizk's flat to his mother's for a birthday party.[5][6] Chambers was on her balcony painting, with her red Volkswagen parked below on Rue Verdun. As Salameh's convoy passed the Volkswagen at 3:35pm and turned onto Rue Madame Curie,[7] 100 kg of explosive attached to the car by a fellow Mossad agent was remotely exploded,[1] either by Chambers or on her notification to another Mossad agent.[8]

The detonation left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to the American University Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03pm.[9] Salameh's four bodyguards were killed. Four bystanders were also killed.[1][8] Immediately following the operation, the three Mossad officers escaped, as well as up to 14 other Mossad agents believed to have been involved in the operation.[8]

In popular culture[edit | edit source]

  • Ali Hassan Salameh was featured in the plot of the Steven Spielberg film Munich as one of the assassination targets. He is seen twice but was not assassinated until after the events of the film.
  • He appears as the character named Jamal Ramlawi in the spy novel Agents of Innocence by David Ignatius, a thinly disguised account of his recruitment by the CIA.[10]
  • Daniel Silva borrowed from the exploits of Ali Hassan Salameh and his relatives to create the background for his fictional spy novel Prince of Fire, 2005.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Michael Bar Bar-Zohar and Eitan Haber (2005-12-01). Massacre in Munich: The Manhunt for the Killers Behind the 1972 Olympics Massacre. The Lyons Press. ISBN 978-1592289455. 

See also[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Noam Shalev (2006-01-24). "The hunt for Black September". BBC News Online. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/this_world/4627388.stm. 
  2. David Ignatius (2004-11-12). "In the end, CIA-PLO links weren't helpful". U-T San Diego. http://www.utsandiego.com/uniontrib/20041112/news_lz1e12ignatiu.html. 
  3. David Ignatius (2001-09-16). "Penetrating Terrorist Networks". Washington Post. p. B07. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A34478-2001Sep14?language=printer. 
  4. "Munich (3): BBC set to name woman agent who killed Olympics massacre mastermind". 2006-01-24. http://www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/000634.html. 
  5. University of Southampton New Reporter. People 9 (17). 1992-03-06. 
  6. "An Eye For An Eye". CBS News. 2009-02-11. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2001/11/20/60II/main318655.shtml. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  7. John Weisman (2006-07-18). "Conspiracy Theory". http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,105948,00.html. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "MIDDLE EAST: Death of a Terrorist". Time Magazine. 1979-02-05. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,946209,00.html. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  9. Simon Reeve (2000-09-01). One day in September. Arcade Publishing. ISBN 978-1559705479. 
  10. David Ignatius (1997-09-17). Agents of Inocence. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0393317381. http://www.jstor.org/stable/253729. 
  11. Robert Ludlum (2008-07-01). The Janson Directive. St. Martin's Paperbacks. p. 581. ISBN 978-0312945152. 

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