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The World: Abu Daoud–Terror’s Advanceman

3 minute read

“My name is Mohammed Daoud Mohammed Auda. I was born in Siluan near Jerusalem on the 16th of May, 1937. I have one wife and, by her, six children. I have Jordanian citizenship. “

So spoke last week’s mysterious prisoner of Paris in an interview on Jordanian television in 1973. The broadcast was an intelligence officer’s delight. Abu Daoud, who had been captured by the Jordanians after attempting to infiltrate Amman at the head of an Al-Fatah commando team, rambled on for nearly three hours, spilling hitherto unknown details of P.L.O. terrorist plots and the inner workings of the guerrilla organization. Why had Abu Daoud been so candid? Had he been tortured into cooperation? Was he, as the Israelis still suspect, a Jordanian double agent? And why, after his release from prison in Amman, had he not been punished or even liquidated by the comrades whose secrets he had blabbed on TV?

No one knows for sure, but then not very much about any aspect of Abu Daoud’s murky life is certain. He was indeed born near Jerusalem, and his family still lives in Siluan. After high school, he taught math and physics in Jordan and joined the outlawed Communist Party. He later taught in Saudi Arabia, studied law and worked for the Kuwaiti Ministry of Justice. In 1965 he joined the fledgling Fatah, taking the code name Abu Daoud (which means father of David, his oldest son), and became a protege of Abu lyad, Fatah’s second-ranking leader after Yasser Arafat.

Abu Daoud claims to have founded the group’s intelligence department, called El Rasd (the Observation), in 1968; he was deeply involved in Fatah preparations to wrest control of Jordan from King Hussein in September 1970. Abu Daoud was shot in the leg in one of the early battles of that Black September and spent the rest of the war recuperating in Damascus. After his recovery, he was sent on missions to Europe, North Korea and China to seek support for the Palestinian cause.

In the summer of 1972, Abu Daoud was given the most important assignment of his underground career. He was sent to Munich as an advanceman for the Black September terrorists who carried out the Olympic Games massacre. Traveling under the nom de guerre Sa’ad ad-Din Wali, he spent several weeks in Munich, securing and stashing guns and scouting the Israeli quarters in the Olympic Village. It is not clear whether he remained in the city for the attack on the village and the Shootout at a military airbase near Munich.

Between his release from Hussein’s prison in 1973 and his arrest this month in Paris, Abu Daoud’s doings have been murkier than ever. He apparently has concentrated on diplomatic chores for the P.L.O., part of the time in Baghdad. But Daoud also commanded a Palestinian unit that fought with Moslem leftists in Beirut during the Lebanon civil war. Partly because he dropped out of terrorist work and partly because they think he is still working for the Jordanians, Israeli intelligence insists that he is no longer a prime target. “We don’t kill spies of friendly nations,” says one agent, with a smile. Abu Daoud, however, would probably be wise not to put those smooth assurances to the test.

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