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Inquiry into PLO Chief’s Murder Seems to Point to Abu Nidal Gang

June 12, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The investigation into the murder of a top Palestinian security official here early Monday seems to point to the notorious Abu Nidal group as the culprit, French police sources say.

They do not altogether rule out the possibility that Israel’s secret service, Mossad, was involved. But they believe it is more likely that 44-year-old Atef Bseisu, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s deputy security chief, was eliminated because he had a personal score to settle with Abu Nidal.

The police are taking very seriously a letter received Tuesday by a French news wire service in Tunis. It said the Abu Nidal group, known formally as the Fatah Revolutionary Council, had killed “the traitor Bseisu because he had given European secret services precise information on the whereabouts of various Palestinian organizations and their leaders,” which fell into the hands of Mossad.

An Abu Nidal spokesman in Beirut later denied knowledge of the killing. But the police here tend to believe the letter is genuine.

Sources close to the French secret service say it is common knowledge that Bseisu was about to take reprisals against the Abu Nidal group, which was responsible for the assassination of the PLO’s No. 2 man, Saleh Khalaf, known as Abu Iyyad, in Tunis in 1991.

Abu Nidal has been a bitter foe of PLO chief Yasir Arafat, and his hit men have murdered several PLO officials in European capitals over the years.

On the other hand, rumors have floated that Abu Nidal has a relationship with Mossad, which targeted Bseisu as one of the planners of the massacre of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich in 1972.

French sources dismissed as “ridiculous” allegations that the French secret service passed information to Mossad about Bseisu. “Why on earth would we have had him killed here in Paris?” one source asked, adding, “We had very good relations with him.”

Bseisu was in fact in Paris for a meeting with French security officials, which he did not live to keep.

As for Abu Nidal, the French are said to have had an understanding with him since the mid-1980s that France was off-limits for his assassinations. Bseisu’s murder may have signaled an end to the unwritten agreement, which the French authorities deny exists.

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