What Goes Around Comes Around

1973 U.S. Cable on Mideast Mirrors Current Events Memo, Among Newly Released Nixon-Era Documents, Warns Saudi Monarch of Dangers From Fatah By Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2007; Page A03       A March 1973 State Department cable released yesterday by the National Archives recounts a promise by Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal that terrorist threats to U.S. interests could be resolved as soon as Washington pressed Israel to withdraw from territory it had seized. The cable is one of 10,000 Nixon administration documents that were disclosed for the first time, including some related to terrorism and Middle East policymaking that illustrate how little has changed in more than 30 years.


On March 1, 1973, eight terrorists representing the Black September Organization, a Palestinian group with ties to Yasser Arafat and his Fatah political party, had seized the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan‘s capital, during a reception for the departing U.S. deputy chief of mission. Diplomats, including the U.S. and Saudi ambassadors, were taken hostage, and demands were made for the release of Palestinian guerrillas held in various countries, including Israel. In the end, the two U.S. diplomats and a Belgian diplomat were killed, after which the terrorists surrendered to Sudanese officials. Two were immediately released, and after a trial, the six others were turned over to Arafat’s organization.


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