An Italian magazine claims that Palestinian arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat made a secret deal not to attack Italian citizens and accepted bribes from Italy’s leader
In an exclusive report Sunday, the Italian L’espresso magazine revealed new information about the cordial relationship between the PLO terror organization and the Italian authorities, as gleaned from the secret diaries of the PLO’s terrorist founder and first Palestinian Authority president, Yasser Arafat.
The 19 volumes of personal writing span the years between 1985 and 2004; the year Arafat died in a French hospital. The volumes were then given to a French foundation on condition that the content of the diaries would be used only as “study documents,” and would not provide content for books or films or any other documentary projects, according to a World Israel News report.
The diaries detail Arafat’s relationships with many nations’ leaders, including such late presidents as Fidel Castro (Cuba), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), and Shimon Peres (Israel).
As to the latter, Arafat writes about secret negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, whom he calls “an excellent person … beautiful.” The three shared a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for the Oslo Accords.
The bombshell report comes weeks after Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman revealed Israel’s efforts to try and kill Arafat, including a briefly considered plot to assassinate him by shooting down a passenger airliner, according to a Times of Israel story.
However, WIN reports that the excerpts of the diaries that were published weekly dealt with high ranking Italian government officials, including former prime ministers Bettino Craxi and Silvio Berlusconi as well as foreign minister Giulio Andreotti.
In particular, the L’espresso feature brought to light negotiations between Arafat and the Italian government (headed by Craxi and Andreotti) in 1985, during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship off the Egyptian shore by four Palestinian terrorists. The terrorists had planned to travel on the ship to Israel to carry out an attack in the Jewish state but were accidentally discovered and commandeered the ship instead; murdering a Jewish-American hostage, Leon Klinghoffer, 69 of New York City during the incident.
Intelligence was provided stating that the mastermind behind the group that hijacked the now infamous cruise ship was then PLO official Muhammad “Abu” Abbas, according to the WIN report. When Italy had the opportunity to arrest and try him soon after the crisis was over – or extradite him to the US to stand trial for Klinghoffer’s murder – the diaries say that Andreotti allowed Abbas (who is currently the president of the Palestinian Authority) to escape justice. Craxi himself publicly supported the position that there was not enough evidence to allow for Abbas’ extradition.
It had long been rumored that an understanding of sorts had been in place between Italy and the PLO since 1973, after a PLO attack at the Leonardo daVinci-Fiumicino International Airport in Rome in which 34 people were killed.
The attacks began with an airport terminal invasion and hostage-taking, followed by the firebombing of Pan American World Airways Flight 110.
Pan Am Flight 110 was a scheduled Pan American World Airways flight from Rome, Italy to Tehran, Iran by way of Beirut, Lebanon. On December 17, 1973, shortly before takeoff, the airport terminal and the flight aircraft were invaded and the aircraft was set on fire by armed Palestinian gunmen.
Following the aircraft invasion, the gunmen hijacked Lufthansa Flight 303 and killed two more people before being taken into custody by the State of Kuwait.
It was reported at that time that Kuwaiti authorities later took the hijackers to an air base for interrogation purposes. Kuwait announced that it had no intention of putting the hijackers on trial, and initially considered releasing the hijackers to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In March 1974, the late President Anwar Sadat of Egypt agreed to allow them to come to Cairo under the responsibility of the PLO, which said the men would be tried for carrying out an “unauthorized operation”.
The five terrorists were later released under negotiations during another hijacking that took place on November 21, 1974, but were then returned to the custody of the PLO. It is unclear what happened to them after their return to the PLO.
As a result, the PLO would not target Italians in exchange for Italian acquiescence to its objectives.
A Times of Israel report indicated that the clandestine diaries indicated that Arafat, (who directed the PLO’s terror operations against Israelis for decades before signing the Oslo Accords with Israel in 1994), wrote that he never actually ordered terror attacks, but would only tell others “you decide,” when presented with a plan. After it was carried out, he would remark “good, good.”
L’espresso reported that in his diaries, Arafat warmly described Italy as “a Palestinian shore of the Mediterranean.”
The diaries also revealed how Arafat helped Silvio Berlusconi, a three-time prime minister who was a member of Italy’s parliament in 1998 when he was put on trial for illegally funding the Italian Socialist Party. In return for a handsome gift, Arafat wrote, he confirmed Berlusconi’s false statement to prosecutors that the 10 billion lire which were at the center of the trial were not for the party but for the PLO to support the Palestinian cause.
Moreover, in May of 2016, Ha’Aretz reported that while in the midst of re-examining the details of the kidnapping and murder case of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro by the Marxist Red Brigades terror organization that took place in the spring of 1978, members of an Italian parliamentary committee came across top secret cables between the PLO leadership and the Italian government concerning the 1973 deal.
The deal between Rome and the Palestinians had earlier been revealed by former Italian president Francesco Cossiga in 2008, who wrote in an Italian newspaper at the time that it was Aldo Mora who reached the pact, however, other reports on the deal have indicated it was reached in 1973, when Andreotti was prime minister, according to a Times of Israel report.
The report notes that Andreotti was a key figure in the secret negotiations between the PLO and other countries. The TOI report said that a similar deal, claimed by Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as “Carlos the Jackal,” is said to have protected Switzerland from Palestinian attacks in the 1970s and 80s.
According to the Ha’Aretz report, under the unwritten agreement that was discovered, Italy allegedly pledged its political support for the Palestinians and their political and terrorist objectives. As part of the quid pro quo deal, both the terrorist Fatah and George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) issued promises not to conduct terror attacks on Italian soil.
In one cable, a photograph of which somehow reached La Stampa, the writer warns the intelligence services that the PFLP may have been planning a wide-scale terror operation in Italy at that time.
The May 2016 Ha’Aretz report indicated that MPs Gaetano Quagliariello and Carlo Giovanardi, who served on the committee of the re-examination of the Moro case, say that unsealing and publishing the documents could help unlock the truth.
The report also indicated that while the material is no longer considered a state secret it is still classified as “top-secret” and therefore cannot be made public.
They went so far as to write that the dramatic conflict between Italy and several Palestinian organizations controlled by the Libyans reaches a peak on the morning of June 27, 1980. It was then that terrorists carried out a bombing of the Central Station in Bologna, Italy. As a result, 85 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded. The bombing is considered the fourth deadliest terrestrial terrorist attack in Western Europe behind the Nice attack in July 2016, the Paris attacks in November 2015, and the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.
According to the Ha’Aretz report, theories have previously been floated in the Italian media saying that the Bologna terror attack, which was hitherto attributed to an Italian neo-fascist terror organization, was in fact a Palestinian reprisal attack for Italy’s alleged violation of the Moro agreement when Abu Saleh Anzeh, the head of the PFLP in Italy, was arrested on terrorism charges in January 1980.
As was previously reported by the Jewish Voice, the situation in terms of implementing security precautions throughout Italy and especially in areas that are magnets for tourists is wholly inadequate by all professional accounts. This conclusion gives rise to speculation that Italian authorities are not viewing security measures with the level of gravitas that they deserve given the geo-political climate throughout Europe. Perhaps the authorities are cognizant of the fact that for close to half a century, Italy has not been the target of radical Islamic terrorism because of a surreptitious deal that was agreed on with the hodgepodge of organizations that represent the Palestinian terrorist brigades.
Recently, Jewish Voice publisher David Ben Hooren returned from a routine trip to Italy (a country that he travels to on a fairly frequent basis). With a look of alarm etched on his face, Ben Hooren said, “It is beyond preposterous that the Italian authorities or their department of homeland security does not craft a concrete plan to increase security throughout the country but especially in places that are frequented by tourists on a daily basis.”
Speaking of his palpable concern that the appalling absence of security could possibly result in a large degree of casualties and even deaths in the event of a terror attack, Ben Hooren discovered that things are much worse than they appear.
“While I was in Italy, I engaged police officers and other local authorities. For instance, I asked the police why they were carrying an outdated Baretta handgun, rather than being provided with more contemporary arms while in the line of duty. I was told by police officers that the government does not direct sufficient funds for the purpose of upgrading anti-terror equipment or crafting more detailed anti-terror plans,” said Ben Hooren. He added, “It is not only shocking if one considers that all western countries are targets for terrorists but it is exceptionally frightening.”
Ben Hooren explained that during the course of conversation with the Italian authorities, he learned that even their police vehicles were antiquated; with some having over 150,000 miles on their respective speedometers.
Having garnered this information, Ben Hooren was motivated to probe further. He interviewed hotel owners, restaurant managers and veteran tour guides. As is common knowledge, the lion’s share of Italy’s annual revenue is directly related to its tourism industry. “I sadly learned from those who are engaged in tourism each day in Italy as it is their livelihood that because of the lack of security, the percentage of tourists coming to Italy from the United States has significantly decreased. As a matter of fact, I was told that over the last year tourism has declined from 25 percent to 8 percent.”
Mentioning several iconic tourist sites that he personally visited, Ben Hooren said that such venues as the Duomo in Florence, the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo de Milano, the Fontana di Trevi in Rome and the Plaza de Espana in Rome are bereft of any feasible appearance of security. “These sites attract a wide variety of tourists, and I can tell you that when you travel from town to town; from city to city in Italy, you see an abysmal lack of security, “ Ben Hooren ruefully observed.
“What is really incomprehensible is that I learned that the Plaza de Espana, for instance, has now become a public thoroughfare for vehicles and there are absolutely no security barricades in sight. The truth is, if a terrorist or a cadre of terrorists were to target any tourist site in Italy, they could certainly get away with it and tragically they can easily murder hundreds if not thousands of people in well timed strikes” he added.
By: Fern Sidman
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