ABBAS, Mohamed (Abu Abbas)

Nom-de-guerre of Mohammed Abbas, leader of the PLF (the Palestinian Liberation Front), a small Palestinian group which split from the PFLP-GC in April 1977.

The PLF broke into two factions in 1983, one joining the dissidents in Damascus, while Abu Abbas remained in Tunis with the other faction faithful to Yasser Arafat. The two factions were later reconciled and Abu Abbas became a member of the PLO Executive Committee in April 1987 at the 18th session of the Palestinian National Council (PNC).

Abu Abbas is responsible for several terrorist actions carried out in the name of the PLF which jeopardized the credibility of the PLO as a whole, such as the Achille Lauro affair in 1985 and the attempted commando raid on a beach near Tel Aviv in 1990.

Under the Oslo Agreements, members of the PLO were granted immunity from acts committed before the 1993 peace accords. The accords also stipulated that people involved in past terrorism would not be indicted if they rennonced to terrorism and joined the peace process. Abu Abbas publicly rennonced terrorism in 1996 and Israeli High Court procured him immunity and allowed him to enter in Gaza.

Abu Abbas was captured on April the 15th, 2003 by US Special Forces in Baghdad were he had been living for the last 17 years. The Palestinian Authority demanded his liberation, defending his immunity. The US had declared that it could indict him since the Agreement applied only in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, not the US. He could also be extradited to Italy, where he had been tried in absentia, convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the Achille Lauro case.

Abu Abbas died on the 8th of March 2004. US forces took him into custody in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad and he was supposedly held in an American prison in Iraq. As reported by US spokesperson, Abu Abas died of natural causes. The Palestinian Authority didn’t contradict this information.

The capture of Abu Abbas in Iraqi territory is considered by the United States as evidence that the Iraqi regime was harbouring international terrorists.