WASHINGTON (Feb. 18)
The effort to have the Justice Department seek an indictment of Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat for the murder of two American diplomats in the Sudan in 1973 has taken on increased weight with a letter signed by Senators urging Attorney General Edwin Messe to initiate the action.
“We urge the Justice Department to assign the highest priority to completing this review and to issue an indictment of Yasir Arafat if the evidence so warrants,” said the letter written by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D. N. J.) and Charles Grassley (R. Iowa).
Both the Justice and State Departments have said they are studying the matter since it was first proposed late last year by Charles Lichtenstein, a senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who is a former Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations.
INFORMATION LINKS ARAFAT TO KILLING
The letter to Meese from the Senators noted that the Justice Department has received information linking Arafat “to the brutal 1973 slaying of Ambassador Cleo Noel and Charge D’Affaires G. Curtis Moore in Khartoum.”
The Senators pointed to reports that “the U.S. government has a tape recording of an intercepted message in which Arafat allegedly ordered the assassination” of the two Americans, who were taken hostage when the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum was seized by Palestinian terrorists on March 2, 1973.
An indictment “would send a clear signal to the world of our unfaltering commitment to see justice done and terrorism punished,” Lautenberg said. He said it would be “a new avenue to fight terrorism” which “can be taken unilaterally by the United States.”
In addition, if Arafat was indicted, it would make it difficult for him to travel in Western Europe and other countries, Lautenberg said. “It would thus deny him some measure of mobility and access to international support,” he asserted.