Michael Bar-Zohar and Eitan Haber, two experienced Israeli journalists, make the claim in a recently published book that Palestinian Arab terrorists and Nazi agents parachuted into the Jordan valley area in November, 1944 with enough poison to kill the 250,000 Jewish residents of Tel Aviv.
Bar-Zohar and Haber say in their documentary study of Israel’s fight against terrorism, “The Quest For The Red Prince, ” (Morrow) that the two Palestinians involved in the plot were Haj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and Hassan Salameh, the man who took over the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs in 1948.
The plot to murder Tel Aviv’s Jewish population was hatched in Berlin by the Mufti, whose hatred of Jews and Zionism led him into an unholy alliance with the Nazis. Husseini was invited to Berlin by Hitler after a short stay in wartime Italy.
The Mufti was feted by the Nazi authorities, given a commodious residential suite in the Bellevue Palace and introduced not only to the Fuehrer but to other Nazi bigwigs — including Adolf Eichmann. Of the latter, the Mufti said: “I discovered a priceless pearl by the name of Eichmann.”
EICHMANN REJECTED HUSSEINI
Eichmann, however, turned down Husseini’s request to act as an adviser on Jewish affairs to the man who was responsible for the shipping of Jews to the concentration camps.
Accordingly, Husseini busied himself with supporting the Nazi war effort against the allies by helping to organize SS units drawn from Yugoslavian Muslim elements. By 1944 the Mufti had persuaded the Nazis of the need to make a dramatic move in the Mideast, a theater of war in which the Germans had suffered bad reverses.
In November of that year Hassan Salameh, the Mufti’s Palestinian associate in Berlin, and a legendary figure among the Palestinian Arabs during the revolts of 1936 and 1939 – returned to Palestine along with several Nazi agents, one of whom had been born in the German colony in Jerusalem, to plan the poisoning of the Tel Aviv water supply.
NAZI AGENTS ARRESTED
The plan was not carried to fruition because of a series of mishaps including the loss of several caches of gold coins which the terrorists were going to use for negotiating purposes. When the coins began to show up in Arab market places investigations were launched by the British police and ended up with the arrest of the Nazi agents in a cave in the Judean desert.
Bar-Zohar and Haber relate that Salameh skillfully eluded capture and disappeared completely from sight. At the conclusion of the Second World War the Mufti succeeded in avoiding capture and, through the use of several disguises, made his way to Austria and then on to Switzerland. When the Swiss refused to grant him political asylum, the Mufti proceeded on to France where he was arrested by French gendarmes.
After a short period of incarceration at the Cherche-Midi prison, Husseini was released. The Israeli journalists reveal here for the first time that the release was ordered by General De Gaulle himself. The reason behind De Gaulle’s intervention? the Mufti was seen as an important asset in France’s North African policy. In France he was under special Surete protection. From France the Mufti made his way back to the Mideast and set up his headquarters in Lebanon. His faithful subordinate Hassan Salomeh surfaced again in 1947, the day after the United Nation partition resolution was promulgated. On Nov. 3 bus. No. 2094 left the central station in Tel Aviv for a two hour trip to Jerusalem. Near the Arab village of Feja the bus was attacked and almost every passenger was murdered. The leader of the Arab band was the same Salameh who had planned the poisoning of Tel Aviv.
In their historical survey journalists Bar-Zohar and Haber relate that Salameh’s son, born shortly after his father’s death in 1948, took on the mantle of leadership after the disastrous defeat of the Arabs in 1967. By the early 1970s the new Ali Hassan Salomeh had become Yassir Arafat’s “adopted son,” and the commander of the PLO’s Black September terrorist group.
Salameh junior began to orchestrate a series of bloodthirsty attacks against Israeli arliners, consulates and ordinary Jewish and Israeli citizens. In response to this unprecedented terrorist menace, the government of Golda Meir authorized a counter-terrorism campaign which saw Israeli agents track down and liquidate virtually every Arab involved in the killing of Israel’s Olympic team.
SALAMEH ELUDED ISRAELIS UNTIL 1979
Their most elusive target, Salameh, however, managed to resist detection and from his Lebanese redoubt grew in stature. His marriage to a Miss Universe augmented his aura of strength.
Bar-Zohar and Haber claim that Salameh’s infatuation with karate finally led to his detection. An Israeli agent, having made the rounds of all the karate institutions in Beirut recognized Salameh one day in the sauna. In 1979 Salameh’s car blew up with him inside of it.
The story has a poignant if disquieting ending. Salameh’s son, who bears the same name as the father, has been dedicated, by his mother, to the Palestinian revolution.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.