Sabri Al Banna


January 20, 2022

Sabri Khalil al-Banna (May 16, 1937 - August 16, 2002), better known as Abu Nidal, founder of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, a Palestinian armed splinter group, also known as the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO). During the seventies and eighties of the twentieth century, al-Banna was at the height of his power, at which time he was widely known as the harshest and most brutal of Palestine's political leaders. In a rare interview he gave in 1985, he told Der Spiegel magazine: "I am the spirit of evil that moves in the darkness of the night, causing ... nightmares." (PLO), for adopting a position of rejection of this movement. Because of Banna's work as a freelance mercenary, the United States Department of State held him responsible for attacks in at least twenty different countries, killing and wounding at least 900 people. The simultaneous bombings at Rome and Vienna airports on December 27, 1985 are among the most famous operations of the Abu Nidal Organization, in which gunmen opened fire on El Al ticket counters in both locations, killing eighteen people and wounding one hundred and twenty others. Patrick Seale, Abu Nidal's biographer, described these attacks as "characterized by indiscriminate cruelty as a model for Abu Nidal's operations" and some reports describing the purges carried out by al-Banna and his associates provided more evidence and conclusions about the nature of his personality and the quality of his organization. Al-Banna died of one to four gunshot wounds in Baghdad in August 2002. Palestinian sources assumed that he was killed on Saddam Hussein's orders, but the Iraqi government insisted that he committed suicide. And the Guardian wrote on the news of his death: "It was the citizen turned psychopath, who served only himself, and that it was his twisted personal motives that led him to this heinous crime, and he is the hired agent with the highest authority."

His life and upbringing

Abu Nidal was born in May 1937, in the city of Jaffa, which is now part of Tel Aviv. Jaffa is located on the Mediterranean coast and was under the so-called British Mandate of Palestine, at that time. His father, Hajj Khalil al-Banna, was a wealthy merchant, who made his fortune by owning 6000 acres of orange orchards that stretched from southern Jaffa to Majdal, now known as Ashkelon, which is located in Israel. His extended family led a luxurious life in a three-storey house near the seashore, which is now an Israeli military court. According to al-Banna's brother, Muhammad Khalil, their father was the richest man in the world.

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