Bookmark and Share

Open the online Arabic language course

Abu Nidal
Arabic: 'abū nidalPlay sound
Real name: Sabri al-Banna

Abu Nidal.
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

Abu Nidal

(1937-2002) Palestinian politician and guerilla leader.
Abu Nidal, whose real name is Sabri al-Banna, has for the last 25 years been one of the figures in the Middle East who most often changed sides. He has cooperated with the leaders of Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Libya. He has always been a controversial figure, and since his forces have proven valuable (if dangerous) for many leaders, his career has been dominated by both expulsions and invitations.
Abu Nidal has also been responsible for terrorist attacks outside the Middle East. In recent years Abu Nidal has been far less active, primarily because he has not had the willing employers he had before.

1937: Born in Jaffa, Palestine.
1948: Banna's family flees to a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, later they move to Nablus in the West Bank.
1955: Banna joins the Ba'th party of Jordan.
1957: When the Ba'th party gets suppressed, Banna moves to Saudi Arabia and becomes a secret member of Al Fatah.
1969: Banna is chosen Al Fatah's representative in Sudan.
1970: Banna is sent to Baghdad as Al Fatah's representative, where he is strongly influenced by Iraqi political views.
1974: Banna is expelled from Al Fatah, after criticising Al Fatah's establishment of a national authority for a liberated Palestine. Banna responds by building his own group, the Fatah Revolutionary Council, which receives 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 employed 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.
1986 September: After Western accusations about Syrian participation in international terrorism, Abu Nidal's training camps there are closed down. Abu Nidal is since then believed to have moved 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 August: Dies in Baghdad, Iraq, under circumstances that quickly become questioned. Iraqi authorities claim that he had entered Iraq illegally, and when discovered by officials, he shot himself.

By Tore Kjeilen