Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ( Arabic الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين, DMG al-Ǧabha aš-šaʿbiyya li-taḥrīr Filasṭīn , English Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine , generally abbreviated as PFLP ) is a Palestinian organization that can be attributed to the left wing of pan-Arabism , was founded in 1967 and is politically, terrorist and militarily active. The EU and the US have the PFLP on their lists of terrorist organizations .
The organization increasingly lost its influence, especially in the mid-1990s. With the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the dissolution of the Soviet Union , as well as other factors, Islamist forces such as Hamas in particular grew stronger and gradually pushed the PFLP out of the headlines.
The Popular Front emerged from the union of some left-wing non-religious Palestinian organizations, the largest of which was the Palestinian section of the Arab Nationalist Movement , and initially combined elements of Marxism-Leninism with Arab nationalism in its ideology .
The declared goal of the Popular Front: "The liberation of all of Palestine in armed struggle and the establishment of a democratic and socialist Palestinian state." At the beginning, the Popular Front opposed any solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict, which would lead to the formation of two states between the Mediterranean and Jordan should. In the early 1990s -years about her split from the PLO, and together with other organizations, the so-called " rejection front " off the Oslo peace process recalcitrant organizations to which, among other things, the DFLP and Islamic organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad are . The group continues to oppose the Oslo Accords and insists on the right of return of Palestinian refugees .
On a tactical level, the Popular Front is committed to spectacular acts of terrorism that attract media attention and draw global public opinion on the Palestinian problem, such as air hijackings and attacks at key locations and events.
In April 2000 Habash announced his resignation for health reasons. Habash's successor as General Secretary was Abu Ali Mustafa on July 8, 2000 , who was killed on August 27, 2001 in a targeted killing by the Israeli army . Shortly thereafter, the military part of the PFLP Abu-Ali-Mustafa Brigades was named after him . Shortly afterwards, a command of the brigades killed the Israeli tourism minister, Rechaw'am Ze'ewi, in retaliation .
The second Al-Aqsa intifada had begun shortly before the attack . In response, the Israeli government demanded the arrest of the new General Secretary Ahmad Saadat , the head of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades , and a number of other PFLP members whom Israel accuses of planning or carrying out the attack. The Palestinian Authority finally responded to this pressure and arrested everyone.
Meanwhile, brigade units actively fought in the second Intifada. For example, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigade units, although smaller than the armed forces of Hamas or the Fatah militias, were involved in militant and violent demonstrations, direct fighting and shootings with the Israeli army, as well as in suicide attacks and assassinations.
Politburo member Jamil al-Majdalawi summarized the PFLP's participation in the 2001 Intifada:
“Through its educational work in recent years, the left has strengthened the political mood for the Intifada. At the moment the left is involved in all activities of the new Intifada in all areas. The left is present on the street, active in the upper coordinating committees, as well as in the various people's committees, which have different tasks: e.g. B. Economic committees to support poor families, political committees, prisoner committees ... etc. The left also takes part in the armed struggle. "
After Arafat's death in November 2004, the PFLP sought a joint candidacy with the DFLP and the Palestinian People's Party and held talks with these groups, which did not lead to an agreement. As a result, the PFLP then supported the Palestinian National Initiative for its top candidate Mustafa Barghuti in the 2005 presidential election . This then won a total of about 19.5 percent of the vote and was thus the second strongest candidate behind Mahmoud Abbas .
In the elections to the Palestinian Parliament on January 25, 2006, the PFLP entered with the list of martyrs Abu Ali Mustafa and received 4.25 percent of the vote. It gained the most percent in its strongholds in Bethlehem 9.4 percent, in Ramallah 6.6 percent, followed by North Gaza with 6.5 percent. With this result, it is the third largest party in parliament and is represented by three members: General Secretary Ahmad Saadat , Jamil al-Majdalawi and Chalida Jarrar, who is in prison in Israel .
The PFLP was the only opposition party in parliament that did not participate in the government of “national unity”, which consists of Hamas , Fatah , DFLP and other smaller left and bourgeois groups.
The MP for the PFLP Chalida Jarrar said in an interview in April 2007:
"We welcomed the Mecca Agreement because it ended the internal struggle, but we will run a positive opposition ... because we hold it back for a step."
Furthermore, the PFLP or its military arm participated in attacks and attacks against Israeli targets. These included the kidnapping of four Americans and two French in 2006, as well as shootings and attacks on Israeli and Western buildings, all related to detained Ahmad Saadat and other PFLP members. Also during the storming of the prison by the Israeli army itself, there was fighting between the detained PFLP prisoners and the armed forces of Israel.
In the course of the Israeli attacks and operations against targets in the Gaza Strip in 2007, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades stepped up their military activities.
Throughout history, a few organizations have split off:
In 1968, shortly after the founding of the PFLP, the PFLP-GC around Ahmad Jibril split off from the young organization . At that time, the PFLP-GC stood for a group that was more oriented towards practical armed struggle and saw itself as a contrast to the PFLP, which it considered to be too theoretically oriented. It has always remained smaller than the PFLP or DFLP, but is known for its more radical nature, including the fatal bomb attack on Swissair flight 330 .
The group has its main area of influence in the refugee camps in Syria and is still supported by Syria to this day. Today the group is mainly active in Lebanese refugee camps and is said to have the upper hand in some. According to some information, there are said to have been smaller cooperations with Hezbollah , which is active in the same area , especially during the second Lebanon war .
- DFLP ( Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine )
First the faction, split off in 1969, called itself the “People's Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine” (PDFLP) . It was not until 1974 that the name was changed to DFLP. Basically, the two factions did not differ much from each other. The crux of the internal factional struggles between the so-called progressives (DFLP) and historians (PFLP) was ultimately primarily the theoretical question about the armed struggle, sometimes not as such, although the more Moscow-oriented DFLP is much less militant, but rather about it Position in tactical questions.
- PRFLP ( Popular Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Palestine )
During 1972 the internal conflicts of content came to a head again. At the end of this, the group of the left faction around Salim Darduna , who was military responsible for South Lebanon at the time, split off from the PFLP, which then called itself the PRFLP. About 150 PFLP members are said to have belonged to this group. The PRFLP was never able to gain any significant influence.
- PFLP-EO ( Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - Group of External Operations, also: Special Command / PFLP-SC or Haddad Group )
Furthermore, the PFLP-EO, headed by PFLP co-founder Wadi Haddad (Abu Hani), represented a split - at least an autonomous group within the PFLP. After the plane hijackings for which the PFLP was responsible in September 1970 had contributed to violent anti-Palestinian reactions within the Arab world (see Black September ), Habash's leadership distanced itself from international terrorism as an instrument of warfare, whereupon Haddad took his subsequent actions on his own Responsibility organized and carried out. The Haddad group worked closely with left-wing revolutionary guerrilla groups from different parts of the world and was known for acts of terrorism outside the Middle East, including the hijackings of Entebbe in 1976 and Mogadishu in 1977 and the attack on the OPEC conference in Vienna in 1975 . In 1976, Haddad was expelled from the PFLP because of his continued hijackings. The plane hijacking to Mogadishu, ended by the West German anti-terrorist special unit GSG 9 of the Federal Police , was the last action of the Haddad group, the leader of which died in March 1978.
Ahmad Saadat has been Secretary General of the PFLP since the targeted killing of Abu Ali Mustafa by the Israeli forces . He and other PFLP activists have been in Palestinian custody since they were captured by the Palestinian security forces, and are currently in Israeli custody.
Most of the supporters of the PFLP can be found in the central West Bank, above all in Ramallah , Bethlehem and in the outskirts of East Jerusalem , but also in Gaza or North Gaza or Nablus . A large number of the fighters for the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades come from the student environment at universities in East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin .
The number of members varies according to different sources. According to some information from the CIA , there are only about 800 members of the PFLP. It is more likely that information about several thousand is in the PFLP. According to the FAZ , the PFLP is said to have around 3,000 activists in 2004, making it the largest organization on the left, ahead of the DFLP. It also seems certain that there are several hundred members and fighters of the PFLP and its organizations currently in Israeli custody. The Palestinian prisoners' organization Adameer is also responsible for looking after PFLP members .
The organization has its own newspaper called al-Hadaf (German: The Goal ) and other publications as well as an English and Arabic website that is updated daily. The English-language paper called Democratic Palestine had to be closed in the 1990s due to lack of money. The organization is expanding its relationship with Iran by seeing it as the "standard bearer in the fight against Israel and for the liberation of Palestine".
The PFLP also owns a number of subsidiary organizations or associations influenced by them such as the student Progressive Student Action Front , the youth organization Palestinian Progressive Youth Union , women's groups and the prisoner solidarity organization Adameer .
Many members continue to work actively in cultural associations and, above all, trade unions. In some cases, PFLP members or sympathizers are or should also be active as school directors or mayors. For example, the mayor of Ramallah , Janet Micha'il , is said to have ties to the PFLP or to be a member, while the mayor of Bethlehem , Victor Batarseh , is a long-term member. Another example is the long-time school director and PFLP cadre Imad Abd al-Aziz .
The armed struggle has always played a decisive role in the PFLP. The PFLP always saw itself as a revolutionary, i.e. also militant, organization. To raise funds, the PFLP temporarily worked with the Danish underground group Blekingegadebanden .
Since the 2001 killing of Abu Ali Mustafa by the Israeli army and since the Al-Aqsa Intifada , the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades have been the arm of military operations. The commanding officer is Ahad Yusuf Musa Olma , who previously worked in the military arm of the PFLP . The brigades, which are represented throughout the Occupied Territories, have been particularly strong during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the 2006 battle for the prison in which Ahmad Saadat was held, and since Israel's operations against the Gaza Strip from 2007 onwards Suicide attacks, Qassam rocket attacks , kidnappings , attacks on Israeli forces and the shelling of Jewish settlements in evidence. She recently drew attention to herself with threats against members of the Knesset .
Activities in Germany
Historically, the RAF had good relations with the PFLP. In Germany there are numerous events and event attempts to support and recruit for the PFLP, which Germany has already been criticized in the international press. In a letter to Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière , members of the Knesset and the Bundestag demand that the organization be banned from operating in Germany. Disputes about renting space for support events in the Haus des Neues Deutschland repeatedly lead to disputes.
According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution , the PFLP has so far not made a noteworthy appearance in Germany, although there have been isolated reports about benefit events and participation in demonstrations. There were also a number of appearances or attempts to perform by PFLP members. In response to a small question in the state parliament in September 2017, the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Interior stated that the PFLP was being monitored by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution , but that no anti-constitutional actions had become known in 2017.
At the end of August 2017, German and Israeli media reported that the PFLP or some of its representatives would run for election to the Bundestag via an "internationalist list" with the left-wing splinter party Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) and that the then alliance-green Bundestag member Volker Beck sharply criticize the cooperation between the MLPD and PLFP. To a corresponding reply the MLPD the newspaper admitted the world but one that no PFLP members were begun on the MLPD-country lists. In fact, however, “sympathizers of the PFLP” belonged to the “Internationalist Alliance”, which cooperated with the MLPD in the election campaign. A preliminary injunction against Beck's statements in the federal election campaign obtained by the MLPD in September was overturned by the Hamburg Regional Court in December 2017.
Below is an incomplete list of terrorist attacks involving members of the PFLP:
- 1968 - Airplane hijacking in which three members of the PFLP under the leadership of Wadi Haddad hijack an El-Al airplane to Rome and finally divert it to Algiers . The aim is to release Palestinians imprisoned as terrorists in Israel in exchange for the 22 Israeli crew members and passengers held hostage - the 23 non-Israelis will be released immediately. After several weeks of negotiations, the last twelve Israeli hostages are finally released; in return, Israel releases 16 militant Palestinians. The kidnappers are not bothered by the Algerian authorities.
- 1969 - In the attack in Kloten at Zurich Airport, four assassins shell an El-Al plane, killing the copilot and one assassin.
- 1969 - First airplane hijacking of PFLP activist Leila Chaled . Flight TWA 840 is hijacked to Damascus . The machine is evacuated there and then blown up on the ground. The image of the demolished cockpit goes around the world. Syria takes six of the Israeli passengers released by the kidnappers hostage and later exchanges them for 13 prisoners of war.
- 1970 - The PFLP hijacked four airplanes in a coordinated action, a fifth failed. Swissair , BOAC and TWA planes have to land on the disused Dawson's Field near Zarqa . A grueling war of nerves develops over the release of the hostages in exchange for Palestinian terrorists, including those in prison in Switzerland for the attack in Kloten on February 18, 1969. The fourth machine of the Pan-Am kidnapped them first to Beirut, then to Cairo. Ultimately, all of the hostages are released unscathed and the planes are blown up. The events culminate in the so-called " Black September ". The PFLP hoped for military intervention by its protective power Syria until the end. In fact, Syria had tanks invaded Jordan in support of the PLO , but they were repulsed by the Jordanian army on September 22nd . Thereupon, like most of the PLO sub-organizations, she fled with her office and most of its members to Lebanon .
- 1972 - Massacre at Lod Airport : After commissioning and training by the PFLP-EO three members assassinate the Japanese Red Army at Lod Airport (Israel) 26 people mostly members of Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico .
- 1974 - Members of the PFLP-EO raid the Japanese embassy in Kuwait . At the same time, members of the Japanese Red Army storm a Shell plant on an island off Singapore and take five hostages.
- 1976 - The Haddad group (PFLP-EO) hijacked an Air France aircraft coming from Israel from Athens via Benghazi to Entebbe with the participation of two German members of the revolutionary cells . A task force of the Israeli armed forces was able to overpower the hostage-takers in " Operation Entebbe " and rescue 102 of the 106 mostly Israeli hostages.
- 1977 - Hijacking of the plane "Landshut" : hijacking of a Lufthansa plane launched in Palma de Mallorca by members of the PFLP-EO via several stations to Mogadishu and murder of the pilot. The action takes place in support of the Red Army parliamentary group as part of the "German Autumn" . At Mogadishu airport , "Operation Magic Fire" overpowers the hostage-takers and liberates the 86 mostly German hostages by the German Border Guard Group 9 (GSG 9).
- On October 17, 2001, the Israeli Minister of Tourism , Rechaw'am Ze'ewi was assassinated.
- On November 18, 2014, two PFLP activists broke into the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in the Jewish Orthodox Jerusalem district of Har Nof during the morning Shabatt service and murdered four rabbis and a policeman there with axes, knives and pistols . Another policeman and seven other Jews were injured. The PFLP took responsibility for the attack, extolling it as "a form of resistance that should be stepped up" and "common resistance to the [Israeli] occupation". One of the injured, also a rabbi, died barely a year later from his serious injuries.
- 2017 - Two Palestinian PFLP members and one Hamas member fatally injure a policewoman in Jerusalem .
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