PARIS (Jul. 24)
The notorious Palestinian terrorist known as Abu Nidal is either dead or a prisoner in Libya, and his once-dreaded organization, the Fatah Revolutionary Council, has been dismantled and its top leaders killed, the usually reliable Le Figaro reported Tuesday.
According to the French daily, Abu Nidal, whose real name is Sabri al-Banna, met his fate at the hands of Palestine Liberation Organization forces loyal to Yasir Arafat.
They fought a pitched battle with Abu Nidal’s troops in southern Lebanon late last month, killing 150 of his 350 men. Another 50 were taken prisoner and 10 defected, Le Figaro said. The rest are reportedly in flight.
The paper reports that the PLO victory has given Arafat complete control over the Palestinian diaspora, especially in Lebanon, and has improved his standing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The heaviest fighting was said to have occurred in the two main Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon, Ein Hilweh and Rashidiya, according to Le Figaro.
The newspaper, which quoted no sources for its information, is known to have good contacts with the French secret service.
It believes Abu Nidal is a prisoner in the remote Tokra region of Libya but says another reliable source reports him dead.
Abu Nidal founded the Fatah Revolutionary Council in 1972 and was almost immediately in conflict with Arafat’s wing of the PLO, which he considered too soft.
In addition to being held responsible for some of the worst terrorist outrages in recent years, including the massacres at the E1 A1 counters at the Rome and Vienna airports in December 1985, Abu Nidal’s group has assassinated several top PLO officials.