99. Circular Telegram 164986 From the Department of State of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom and Other Posts1 2
- The President has charged me with responsibility for U.S. efforts to mobilize the international community to take action to combat terrorism in the wake of the Munich tragedy. We believe that as part of our efforts, it would be worthwhile to try to get Arab states which implicitly or explicitly condone terrorism to see themselves as others see them. We are attempting to convey our views on this score to Arab states with which we have influence. Inasmuch as such U.S. efforts are hampered, however, by Arab perception of U.S. as a supporter of Israel, we believe other capitals, such as action addressees, which we see as sharing our aim of combatting terrorism, may be in better position than we to convince Arab friends that condoning or maintaining ambivalent attitude toward terrorism is against Arabs’ best interests.
- You should therefore approach host governments at highest appropriate level for purpose of suggesting that these governments try to find ways to get across to Arabs the negative effects that support of or failure to disassociate selves from terrorism have on Arab image and [Page 2] real interests. In addition to explaining purpose of this exercise along above lines, you may present following arguments for possible use by host governments in making case against terrorism with arabs.
- Munich tragedy has once again brought home lesson that terrorism works against best Arab interests. In our judgment, Arab image in world public opinion, not just American opinion, has been badly tarnished. Despite fact that most responsible Arabs privately recognize negative impact of terrorism on Arab interests, their failure, by and large, to disassociate themselves from terrorist acts places even these responsible elements in role of supporters of terrorism in eyes of world. Position taken by some Arab governments that they have no connection with terrorist acts is simply not credible to international opinion, inasmuch as terrorists carry Arab passports, operate from Arab countries, broadcast and print their views from Arab capitals, etc. moreover, failure to exert more control renders policies of Arab governments prisoner to situation created by terrorists.
- Prospects for just and lasting Middle East peace have been seriously undermined by terrorism. Such acts as Munich murders have in fact markedly raised tensions in Middle East. As long as terrorist war is inflicted on Israel, Israelis, as much as we may wish it were otherwise, will inevitably wage counter-war, as witness recent retaliatory raids against fedayeen installations in Lebanon and Syria. Area situation can quickly become very dangerous under such circumstances. furthermore, Arab diplomatic efforts at UN and in other international forums in favor of peaceful resolution of Arab Israeli conflict lose credibility when Arabs at same time are seen as promoting, tacitly or explicitly, indiscriminate violence.
- While we recognize some Arab governments will continue to feel they cannot condemn terrorists publicly, we would hope they could at least disassociate themselves from the terrorists by denying latter means and opportunities of operating from territory of Arab states in question. Although decision to do so might involve strains, net result would work greatly to Arab advantage by improving Arab public image, increasing chances for ultimate peace, and enhancing security of Arab states.
- You should point out Black September organization (BSO) has claimed credit not only for Munich massacre but also for murder of Jordanian Prime Minister Wasfi Tell in Cairo in November 1971, attempted murder of Jordanian Ambassador to U.K. Zaid Rifai in December 1971, hijacking of Sabena jetliner to Tel Aviv in May 1972, and blowing up of oil storage tanks in Trieste in August 1972. Our information indicates that BSO has clandestine links with Fatah. Yasir Arafat, head of Palestine Liberation Organization (the overall umbrella organization) and Fatah (main component of PLO), was quoted after Munich massacre as emphasizing unity of all fedayeen action, thus lending credence to indications of linkage of BSO to Fatah. It is thus not credible to make distinction, as terrorist organizations and certain Arab governments sometimes try to do, between “respectable” fedayeen organizations and those engaging in indiscriminate terrorism. We therefore hope that governments will express publicly their condemnation not only of BSO but of fedayeen terrorism in general and at the same time call publicly on states harboring or supporting terrorists to cease this support. You should also point out that silence on part of governments would contribute to perpetuation of myth that there is no connection between “respectable” fedayeen and those practicing terrorism.
Additional action addressees:
Sofia, Warsaw, Stockholm, Bern, Djakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Rabat, Tunis, Ankara, Athens, Khartoum, Kinshasa, Dakar, Lusaka, Dar es Salaam, New Delhi, Tehran, Panama City, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Brasilia, Caracas, Bogota, Lima, Asuncion, Georgetown, Kingston, Port of Spain, Jerusalem
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23-8. Confidential. Drafted by G. Norman Anderson of (NEA/EGY). Copies were sent to 55 embassies. Cleared by Sisco, Fessenden, Ross, Phillip H. Stoddard (INR/DDR/RNA), Herz, Hummel, Davies, and Atherton; and approved by Rogers.↩
- In a personal message to ambassadors, Rogers said that Nixon had charged him with the responsibility to mobilize the international community to take action to combat terrorism and directed them to approach host governments in an attempt to persuade the Arabs to disassociate themselves from terrorists.↩