'abû nidal. Real name: Sabri al-Banna
(Jaffa 1937- 2002) Palestinian politician and guerilla leader. Abu Nidal, whose real name is Sabri l-Banna, has for the last 25 years been one of the figures in the Middle East who has most often changed sides. He has cooperated with the leaders of Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Libya. A number of conspiracy theories point to him as being on the payroll of Israel's Mossad at times. Being a controversial figure, his forces have proven valuable yet dangerous for many leaders, and his career has been dominated by expulsions and invitations. Abu Nidal has been responsible for terrorist attacks outside the Middle East, too. In recent years Abu Nidal has been far less active, much because he has not had the willing principals he had before.
- 1937: Born in Jaffa.
- 1948: Banna's family flees to a refugee camp on the Gaza Strip, later they move to Nablus on the West Bank.
- 1955: Banna joins the Ba'ath party of Jordan.
- 1957: When the Ba'ath party gets suppressed, Banna moves to Saudi Arabia, and becomes secret member of Al Fatah.
- 1969: Banna is selected as Al Fatah's representative in Sudan.
- 1970: Banna is sent to Baghdad as Al Fatah's representative, where he is strongly influenced by Iraqi politicial views. That September, his PLFP group hijacked and landed three international flights to Dawson's Field, Jordan, where the jets were destroyed with explosives (though most of the hostages were released; Israeli hostages were kept for a while longer before being traded for PLFP prisoners in Israel). This incident gave rise to Nidal's terrorist group being renamed "Black September."
- 1974: Banna is expelled from Al Fatah after criticising Al Fatah's establishment of a national authority for a liberated Palestine. Banna responds by forming his own group, called the Fatah Revolutionary Council, which recieves funds from Iraq. Banna uses Baghdad as his base.
- November: Al Fatah accuses Banna of murder plots, and sentences him to death.
- 1983: Abu Nidal is thrown out of Baghdad, as Iraq needs US support in the war against Iran. Abu Nidal moves to Syria, where he starts to cooperate with the government.
- 1985: Abu Nidal is used to hinder an agreement between Jordan, Israel and the PLO. (Abu Nidal's troops are used to attack international airlines in Vienna and Rome, and a Pan-Am flight is hijacked in Karachi during this year.)
- 1986 September: After western accusations of Syrian participation in international terrorism, Abu Nidal's training camps are closed down. Abu Nidal is believed to have fled to Libya.
- 1991: One of the PLO's highest officers, Salah Khalaf, is killed in Tunis in an attack by Abu Nidal's men.
- 2002: Abu Nidal dies in Baghdad by gunshot wounds. Reports differ on the reason for his death with claims of assassination countered by claims of suicide.
Last headquartered in Libya with an operational presence in Lebanon in the Al Biqa' (Bekaa Valley) and also several Palestinian refugee camps in coastal areas of Lebanon. Also has a presence in Sudan, Syria, and Iraq, among others, though he was expelled from Syria late in his life and spent his last years in Iraq. Has demonstrated ability to operate over wide area, including the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.
Reports of his death (19/8/2002) vary - Palestinian sources claim he was assassinated, while Iraqi officials claim suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. The Iraqi government even provided post-mortem, death scene pictures (though they are of disputed validity) following his alleged suicide.