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Robert Fisk On the "Suicide" of 'Gun for Hire' Abu Nidal in Baghdad, and the Anarchy That Reigns in Afghanistan As Bush Pushes for a New War

August 21, 2002

The head of the Iraqi Secret Police told reporters in Baghdad today that Palestinian guerrilla leader Abu Nidal committed suicide as Iraqi agents attempted to take him in for interrogation. According to the official, he died by shooting himself in the mouth in his Baghdad apartment.

Reports of Abu Nidal’s death emerged earlier this week but there has been confusion about the circumstances in which he died. Nidal was once declared America’s most wanted terrorist long before Osama bin Laden. The Iraqi government says Nidal had entered Iraq illegally and was carrying a false Yemeni passport. Iraqi officials today displayed photos of his dead body, as well as forged passports and ID cards, and weapons found at the apartment. Iraq’s Secret Police chief said coded messages were found in the apartment revealing Abu Nidal was on the payroll of a foreign country. Reports on Tuesday suggested he had established contacts with what the Iraqis described as Kuwaitis plotting against Iraq. Reports of his death first emerged in al-Ayyam newspaper published in the West Bank, which said Abu Nidal died on Friday.

The White House welcomed his death, describing him as "one of the most craven and despicable terrorists in the world." Abu Nidal was head of the Fatah-Revolutionary Council, (not to be confused with Fatah) which Washington had labeled the world’s most feared terrorist organization before the rise of al-Qaeda.

He is accused of the attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports in December 1985 when 18 people were killed. He is also linked to several attacks in France in the 1980s, including a bomb attack on a Paris synagogue and a machine-gun assault at a Jewish restaurant, in which several people were killed.


  • Robert Fisk, a veteran journalist for the Independent newspaper in London. He just wrote a piece called "Gun for hire who has already died at least twice" about the death of Abu Nidal. He also just returned from Afghanistan where he did a series.

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