Skip to comments.Cold River: A Case Study (A Blogger Uncovers Arafat's Murder of U.S. Diplomats)
Posted on 12/31/2006 8:00:40 PM PST by Zack Nguyen
In June 2002 I wrote a column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune regarding Yasser Arafat's responsibility for the 1973 assassination of two United States State Department officers -- Ambassador Cleo Noel and charge d'affaires Curtis Moore -- in Khartoum, Sudan. The column was based on accounts of the events in David Korn's Assassination in Khartoum, Neil Livingstone and David Halevy's Inside the PLO, and the testimony of former National Security Agency analyst Jim Welsh. Welsh has doggedly purused the story for over thirty years as a result of his personal involvement in disseminating a warning relating to the communications intercepted by the NSA in 1973.
While researching my column in 2002, I sought out a State Department spokesman for a comment. I sent an e-mail message with a draft of my column to State Department Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs deputy director of press affairs Gregory Sullivan. I wrote Sullivan:
I have been leaving messages with you and other department officers over the past day or two seeking any information about department efforts to bring to justice Yasser Arafat and others involved in the 1973 assassination of former American Ambassador to Sudan...Cleo Noel and his charge d'affaires, George Curtis Moore. Attached is the op-ed piece I have written on the subject, including criticism of the Department for its apparent inaction...regarding its own former officers. If my assertions regarding the Department's inaction are wrong, I would like to rewrite the piece to make it accurate. I wonder if you would be willing to take a moment to review the piece and provide me with any information on behalf of the department if I am mistaken.
In response Sulllivan wrote:
I can't say I'm impressed with your research or argumentation. You're obviously writing a piece designed to elicit a certain reaction rather than one based on factual accounts or actual comments made by the U.S. government. I really don't have the time to do the research for you, but I do find myself compelled to point out...Evidence clearly points to the terrorist group Black September as having committed the assassinations of Amb. Noel and George Moore, and though Black September was a part of the Fatah movement, the linkage between Arafat and this group has never been established.
Following the publication of my column in the Star Tribune, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for State Department cables and reports on the assassination of Ambassador Noel. A year later in July 2003 -- I received copies of 27 previously classified cables, all dating to 1973. The cables directly contradicted the Departments assertion that Arafats connection to Black September and to the assassinations was in doubt. I told the story of my encounter with the State Department and related the content of the cables in "Who murdered Cleo Noel?"
This past June the State Department finally gave an accurate historical account of the incident through its Office of the Historian. The Office of the Historian posted the following account of the Khartoum operation:
In the early evening hours of 1 March 1973, eight Black September Organization (BSO) terrorists seized the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum as a diplomatic reception honoring the departing United States Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) was ending. After slightly wounding the United States Ambassador and the Belgian Charge d'Affaires, the terrorists took these officials plus the United States DCM, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador and the Jordanian Charge d'Affaires hostage. In return for the freedom of the hostages, the captors demanded the release of various individuals, mostly Palestinian guerrillas, imprisoned in Jordan, Israel and the United States.
The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the head of Fatah. Fatah representatives based in Khartoum participated in the attack, using a Fatah vehicle to transport the terrorists to the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
Initially, the main objective of the attack appeared to be to secure the release of Fatah/BSO leader Muhammed Awadh (Abu Da'ud) from Jordanian captivity. Information acquired subsequently reveals that the Fatah/BSO leaders did not expect Awadh to be freed, and indicates that one of the primary goals of the operation was to strike at the United States because of its efforts to achieve a Middle East peace settlement which many Arabs believe would be inimical to Palestinian interests.
Negotiations with the BSO terrorist team were conducted primarily by the Sudanese Ministers of Interior and of Health. No effort was spared, within the capabilities of the Sudanese Government, to secure the freedom of the hostages. The terrorists extended their deadlines three times, but when they became convinced that their demands would not be met and after they reportedly had received orders from Fatah headquarters in Beirut, they killed the two United States officials and the Belgian Charge. Thirty-four hours later, upon receipt of orders from Yasir Arafat in Beirut to surrender, the terrorists released their other hostages unharmed and surrendered to Sudanese authorities.
The Khartoum operation again demonstrated the ability of the BSO to strike where least expected. The open participation of Fatah representatives in Khartoum in the attack provides further evidence of the Fatah/BSO relationship. The emergence of the United States as a primary fedayeen target indicates a serious threat of further incidents similar to that which occurred in Khartoum.
The PLO had given the name "Cold River" to the operation and Arafat received a coded message confirming the assassinations by reference to "Cold River." Today, if you look hard, "Cold River" is back in the news. The State Department has declassified another document telling the story I found in the 1973 cables three years ago. At the New York Sun blog It Shines For All Daniel Freedman reports: "Declassified State Department document: Arafat reponsible for storming of embassy and murder of Americans in 1973."
When we revisited this story in June at the time the Office of the Historian published its account, John Hinderaker wrote:
[T]his whole incident illustrates why most conservatives have so little confidence in the State Department. The Americans who were brutally murdered by Yasir Arafat's thugs were State's own employees. And yet, for years the department covered for Arafat. Why?
The question stands.
For the sake of our national interest I am willing to talk to countries and leaders whom we find detestable. But when you kill our people...to me that is when the conversation should end. Yet we continued to treat Arafat as a legitimate statesman for the next thirty years! And what has it bought us in Palestine? Absolutely nothing! They hate us and hate Israel more than ever, and the situation is just as unstable. The State Department spokesman's rather snooty response to the author's inquiry was just inexcusable in my view.
I would urge you to visit the link, which is extensively hotlinked.
Well, I'm afraid the short version is that the State Department is despicable, and has always been despicable.
Back some 400 years ago an Englishman wrote that "an ambassador is someone who lies abroad for his country."
The State Department can't even manage to do that. They don't lie for our country, they lie for some involuted bureaucratic goal that only they could possibly understand.
Well, I would hesitate to paint with such a broad brush, as I have known some very patriotic diplomats who love their country. I would say, however, that those directing our foreign policy towards Arafat made a terroible mistake in ordering everyone to act as if these murders didn't happen.
Black September ping
Thanks for bringing this back. We had a post here when Larry Elder was discussing this on his show -- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/647406/posts
Thank you very much Doug. I think our practicality should end where the life and limb of our people begin.
" They don't lie for our country, they lie for some involuted bureaucratic goal that only they could possibly understand."
The State dept is supposed to represent us to other nations. Somewhere along the line, they decided their job was to represent other nations to us. Sort on an in house UN, and every bit as untrustworthy.
NSA op seeks to expose Arafat
Appeals to Kissinger in latest whistle-blowing effort
Posted: March 13, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
A former National Security Agency Palestinian communications analyst in the Middle East is appealing to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in his latest effort to blow the whistle on Yasser Arafat's role in the murder of two U.S. diplomats in Sudan in 1973.
James J. Welsh, a former NSA Palestinian analyst, broke his vow of silence last year to charge the U.S. government was hiding recordings of Arafat planning and directing the murders of U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel, diplomat Charge d'Affaires George Curtis Moore and Belgian Guy Eid March 2, 1973.
After telling his story first in WorldNetDaily, Welsh took his campaign a step further last spring urging U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., and all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to demand the executive branch find the tapes, transcripts and summaries of the radio transmissions between Arafat and his Black September terrorists and make them public.
"Over the years I have kept my silence about what I know about this tragic episode," Welsh told WorldNetDaily at the time. "But recently I began to wonder how recent administrations could overlook something as terrible as this in our dealings with Yasser Arafat. I have decided that my oaths of secrecy must give way to my sense of right and wrong."
Welsh sent a letter detailing his charges to all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee March 27. He sent another to Hyde March 31 after reading of the congressman's call to re-examine U.S. policy toward the Palestinian Authority headed by Arafat. Despite the raging violence in the Mideast, the pleas by Welsh were met with stony silence.
Now Welsh is appealing to the conscience and, perhaps, ego of Kissinger.
"There is not much point in beating around the bush," Welsh writes in his letter to Kissinger. "I was the NSA Palestinian communications analyst at the time (and had been since 1970). I was one of the three persons who drafted the warning message for the Khartoum Embassy that was downgraded to routine priority and arrived too late to alert our embassy of the impending operation. ... We both know the truth of Arafat's involvement in the murders."
Welsh asks Kissinger why 29 years later he still has not spoken or written of the truth in the matter. He also asks why Kissinger reportedly ordered the destruction or removal of all State Department and National Security Council files pertaining to the matter.
"To be fair, I too never discussed my knowledge of the operation all these years," Welsh writes. "I knew the truth. But in late 2000, I finally began to question why, of all the persons in the world, Yasser Arafat was exempt, by deliberate decision of our government, from the consequences of his ordering the murders of these two diplomats."
Welsh continues: "One truly wonders what the landscape of Israel would be like today if Arafat's complicity had been released into the public sector. I think American public opinion would have rendered a strong disapproval, long ago, of this man ever being a partner for peace."
Welsh says the truth will eventually be revealed and calls on Kissinger to explain, beforehand, why he withheld this information from the American people.
The history of this affair began on Feb. 28, 1973, when Welsh was summoned by a colleague about a communication intercepted from Arafat involving an imminent Black September operation in Khartoum. Within minutes, Welsh recalls, the NSA director was notified and the decision was made to send a rare "FLASH" message the highest priority to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum via the State Department.
But the message didn't reach the embassy in time. Somewhere between the NSA and the State Department, someone decided the warning was too vague. The alert was downgraded in urgency.
The next day, eight members of the Black September terrorist organization stormed the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum, took Noel, Moore and others hostage. A day later, the U.S. diplomats and Eid were machine-gunned to death all, Welsh charges, on the direct orders of Arafat.
Welsh left the Navy and NSA in 1974, keeping quiet about the incident for more than a quarter-century. But no longer.
"These tapes do exist," he says. "I participated in their production. But no one has ever been willing to come forward and acknowledge their existence. I know Yasser Arafat was a direct player in the murder of our diplomats and so has every U.S. administration since Richard Nixon's."
Ex-NSA op asks Congress to probe Arafat murders
Is U.S. hiding Arafat murders?
We know, even during the Bush administration, that the State dept thought blowing up Israelis was different from blowing up Americans. Now it looks like they thought Americans were Arafat fodder, too.
Thank you for that excellent article.
This is a risk that occurs in any "representation" capacity -- be it diplomacy, or regulation...or even advertising and sales.
Representatives should intimately know the wants and needs of the host country, regulated industry, client or customer. Sometimes, though, there is a tendency for the representative to relate to the host, client or customer -- to his country's, or constituency's, or employer's detriment.
It is the role of management to insure that this tendency is suppressed. In the diplomatic trade, it's called "going native". In sales, it's called "taking the customer's side". It's one of the reasons for "rotation" -- changing a diplomat's country, an agent's account or a saleman's territory.
Obviously, it has been a long time since State Department management exercised their responsibility in this regard.
Or, now that I think of it, in any other regard, as well.
I beg to differ with the "a blogger uncovers" line. This has been known for decades!! I knew it myself many years ago.
I for one am glad this story is coming out, thank you for working on it.
I have the WND version posted on the World of Terrorism thread and did several Google searches on it, that are posted, it is at:
Blood, Deceit, and hatred- Yasser Arafat's Dark Legacy
various FR links | 11-12-04 | The Heavy Equipment Guy
Ping for later read.
I really don't have the time to do the research for you, but I do find myself compelled ...What an arrogant jerk!