When an Administration official told Congress on May 24 that the numerous PLO cross-border infiltration attempts into Israel were not violations of the PLO's renunciation of terrorism, he cited the lack of substantive evidence implicating the senior leadership of the PLO--the Executive Committee--and skepticism regarding the intended targets of the raids. Last week's aborted massacre of civilians on the shores of Tel Aviv by Abu Abbas and his PLO faction, the Palestine Liberation Front, clearly indicate the continuing policy of terrorism by PLO leadership.
Abu Abbas is no stranger to our family. He masterminded the cold-blooded murder of our wheelchair-bound father Leon Klinghoffer, aboard the cruise ship the Achille Lauro in October 1985. Making a mockery of our father's death at the November 1988 Algiers Palestine National Council meeting, Abu Abbas said `Maybe he was trying to swim for it.' Whereas the Italian government tried, convicted and sentenced Abbas to life imprisonment in absentia, the PLO rewarded our father's murder by electing him to the PLO's Executive Committee.
But that was then. Things, we have been told, are different now. In the name of the PLO, Yasir Arafat renounced terrorism `absolutely' at a Geneva press conference in December 1988. He pledged an end to the bloodshed. An end to the carnage.
Yet, last week, twelve terrorists from the PLO's Palestine Liberation Front tried to commit a brutal massacre in Tel Aviv. Immediately following the attempted attack, Abu Abbas' faction zealously claimed responsibility. A full member of the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Front is financially supported by the PLO and shares office space with PLO central headquarters in Tunis. Abu Abbas is a member of the PLO Executive Committee.
The aim of the operations, according to one of the captured terrorists, `. . was to murder civilians . . . They asked me to enter the Sheraton Hotel, to kill everyone inside . . . We were asked not to have mercy on anyone and to kill any patron we encountered.'
One need not search far for evidence implicating Abbas himself in the planning of the attack. While undergoing training for the operation under the command of Abbas' deputy, according to the captured terrorist, they were regularly visited by Abbas himself. He came to see them the night before they went out to sea. He blessed them and cautioned them to be careful. Even senior PLO leaders admit to Abbas' culpability.
When U.S.-PLO contacts were first forged, the U.S. said it expected the PLO to condemn ensuring acts of terrorism and to discipline those responsible should they be members of the PLO. Nothing of the sort has occurred. The PLO continues to refuse to unequivocally condemn the attack and expel Abbas from its Executive Committee. Recognizing the gross violation of the PLO's pledge to renounce terrorism, Members of Congress have introduced legislation calling for a suspension of the U.S.-PLO dialogue.
Yet, for some reason, the American administration continues to equivocate on whether the aborted massacre technically constitutes a violation of Arafat's Geneva pledge. Last week, innocent families were fortunately spared the pain which we continually carry with us. Others might not be so lucky.