October 24, 1999
To: Robert Wright, CEO NBC
Rosalyn Weinman, EVP NBC
John Wells, Producer West Wing
The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee's complaint that the TV drama
West Wing slandered Syria in one of its episodes by depicting it as having
downed an unarmed plane is based upon ADC's assertion (which is set forth in
ADC President Hala Maksoud's 10-20-99 letter to Dr. Weinman, as posted on the
ADC web site) that "any list of countries that have done this [i.e., the
downing of an unarmed aircraft] could not include Syria....there being no
historical basis for such conjecture". ADC is either woefully ignorant of
In 1982, in the process of quelling riots in the Syrian city of
In 1985, the Abu Nidal terrorist group staged simultaneous attacks on the
In 1986, Nezar Hindawi, a Jordanian national then residing in
In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by an in-flight bomb. The U.S. government compiled evidence that, although the Libyans may have been involved at the planning stage (which role has been highly publicized by the U.S. government), Iran funded the operation and Ahmed Jabril, a major in the Syrian army and leader of the Syrian-created and Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, actually placed the bomb (which role has been downplayed by the U.S. government due to its desire not to further alienate Syria who it -- rightly or wrongly -- believes to be a pivotal player in the future stabilization of the Middle East).
As further proof of Syria's sponsorship of terrorism I am faxing to you a copy of a Sense of the U.S. Senate resolution, sponsored in the 102nd Congress, 1st session, by then Senators D'Amato, DeConcini, Graham, Gore, Grassley, Packwood, Adams, Mack, Dixon, Helms and Smith, that briefly recites most of the above incidents and demands that Syria "completely renounce all forms of terrorism....cease all support of terrorism including financial, military and political aid to all terrorist groups [and] ....close all terrorist training bases on Syrian territory and Syrian-controlled, Lebanese territory, particularly that of the Bekka Valley."
I agree with Hala Maksoud on one point. The State Department's list of
terrorist countries and organizations is, of course, subservient to
Taking into account Syria's actual historical record, ADC's strident defense of Syria as a peace loving state unfairly depicted as being capable of hurting innocents leads one to the conclusion that ADC is not a reliable source of information concerning this subject. Clearly, any future complaints emanating from ADC which seek to defend and sanitize terrorist states should be received with the proverbial grain of salt. I am sending a copy of this to Hala Maksoud of ADC as well. I would be very interested to see her response (to you or to me)-- but I am not holding my breath.
[June 8, 2000 Postscript: In light of this week's "bombshell" from Ahmed Bahbani, a high level Iranian defector, debriefed in Turkey, that, in connection with the current trial of two former Libyan intelligence agents for the 1988 Pan Am bombing, the terrorist operation was actually funded by Iran and carried out by the Syrian-controlled Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, I reprint below an excerpt from my January 24, 1994 letter, published in the Hartford Courant newspaper, concerning dictator Hafez Assad's role in that atrocity:
"Of more relevance to Americans is his suspected involvement in the
1988 destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 above
Obviously, since this information was publicly available over 6 years
ago, it was surely known to the
[June 11, 2000 Postscript: With
lightning quick speed -- unusual for the
[More on the terrorist regime in
Notes: Ignoring the lessons of the past
By David Horovitz
(Jerusalem Post, November 26, 2006) In a London courtroom 20 years ago this winter, a naive Irish woman who had recently given birth to a daughter screamed abuse from the witness stand at the child's father, an impassive Arab man who was sitting across from her in the dock.
"You bastard," Ann Murphy shouted hysterically at Nezar Hindawi.
"How could you do this to me?"
And then, being the well-raised, polite woman that she was, Murphy, who had
hitherto maintained her composure through a day-and-a-half of harrowing
testimony, immediately turned to the judge to apologize for her lapse.
Moments later, though, she lost control again. "I hate you. I hate
you," she wailed at Hindawi, whose dispassionate expression still didn't
Ann Murphy was the "human time bomb" who had been viciously primed
by Hindawi to unwittingly carry a bomb on board an El Al plane from
In what the prosecution described, truly without hyperbole, as "one of
the most callous acts of all time," the Jordanian-born Hindawi had
befriended and ultimately proposed marriage to Murphy, bought her a ticket to
Tel Aviv 10 days after she accepted his professions of everlasting love, and
told her that while his work commitments meant he'd have to fly in via a
different route, he'd meet her in the Holy Land for their wedding.
Instead, he had been intending to send her, their unborn child and the 380
other innocents aboard that April 17, 1986, flight to their deaths. He had
placed a slab of plastic explosives in the false bottom of the travel bag he
had purchased for her, and then helped her pack her holiday clothes on top of
it. In a taxi en route to the airport, he had fiddled with the calculator he
had asked her to take out as a present for a friend, Murphy testified; in fact,
he was setting the bomb timer. The device had been programmed to detonate when
the El Al jumbo was at 39,000 feet, above
Mr. "A.," an El Al security agent on check-in duty at Heathrow,
discovered the bomb. Giving evidence at the trial from behind a screen to
protect his identity, he testified that he became suspicious of what seemed an
inordinately heavy bag and, having emptied out its contents, discovered the
It is likely, too, that El Al's well-honed routine screening procedures had
already identified Murphy as worthy of particular attention: She had only just
got her passport, the ticket was newly purchased, and she was five months
pregnant and traveling alone. The most rudimentary questioning, revealing the
Arab fiance who was purportedly flying out separately, must have instantly set
the alarm bells ringing.
On October 24, 1986, after the jury had unanimously found him guilty, Nezar
Hindawi was sent to jail for 45 years - the longest prison sentence in British
That same day,
SYRIA WAS comprehensively tied to the failed bombing of El Al flight 016.
Hindawi was arrested in possession of a Damascus-issued "Syrian service
passport" -- the kind used for "official government business,"
the court heard. He told police under questioning that he had been dispatched
on his bombing mission by the head of Syrian Air Force intelligence, Muhammad
al-Khouli, one of president Hafez Assad's closest advisers, having been
motivated by the combination of hatred for
Having abandoned Murphy and her fellow passengers to their intended fate at
Heathrow, Hindawi went back to his hotel and collected his bags, planning on
returning to the airport for an SAA flight to
But realizing, belatedly, that the Syrian government might not be planning
to accord the gentlest treatment to a failed bomber who could implicate some of
its most senior personnel in a horrific attempt at state-sponsored terrorism,
Hindawi gave the Syrians the slip. He was taken into police custody the
Under questioning, Hindawi sang like a bird about
According to some reports, British intelligence had been tracking Hindawi
for two months before the bomb plot was thwarted, having intercepted and
decoded communications between the Syrian embassy and
"We have independent evidence that the Syrian ambassador was personally
involved in securing for Hindawi the sponsorship of the Syrian intelligence
authorities," Howe told his colleagues in the House of Commons. "The
whole house will be outraged by the Syrian role in this caseג€¦ We have
therefore decided to break diplomatic relations with
IN THAT same furious speech, Howe called on
Two weeks later, the Europeans finally agreed on a virtually harmless
package of sanctions against Damascus - including the suspension of high-level
visits, a review of the activities of Syrian diplomats and tightened security
around SAA but excluding, for instance, the suspension of existing arms deals.
The Greeks said they were still not persuaded of Syrian involvement in the bomb
plot and the French were ready to condemn only "certain Syrian citizens"
rather than the Assad government. French prime minister Jacques Chirac had by
then been quoted relaying speculation that the whole affair had been planned by
the Mossad in order to embarrass
NEEDLESS TO say,
Two years after Hindawi went to jail, indeed, someone did manage to get a
bomb on board a jumbo out of Heathrow. Pan Am 103 exploded over
Just last week, almost exactly 20 years after ambassador Haydar packed his
bags and left London for good, German police announced they'd cracked another
plot to smuggle a bomb onto an El Al plane, apparently out of Frankfurt this
time. Details are still sketchy, but it appears that the police discovery --
six arrests following a lucky windfall from a wiretapping operation that had
been aimed at drug dealers -- would have come too late had the plotters gone
through with their original schedule: Their idea was to target El Al during
last summer's German-hosted soccer World Cup, but the plan went awry, it has
been reported, when they failed to reach an agreement with the employee at
Frankfurt airport who was earmarked to place the bomb on board. No "Mr.
A." would have had the opportunity to inspect that bag.
And having assassinated the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in a
Beirut car-bombing in February 2005, and killed half a dozen more of its
prominent critics inside Lebanon in the nearly two years since, Syria this week
evidently sent its terrorists into action again, murdering the rising star of a
prominent Lebanese political clan, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, in his car
in Beirut on Tuesday.
ANN MURPHY and her daughter, Sarah, who turned 20 this summer, have been
long since forgotten. So, too, Sarah's unthinkably callous father, Nezar
Hindawi, rotting in jail. And so too, of course, that forlorn package of
European sanctions against
As the British-Jewish politician Greville (now Lord) Janner was heard to
remark bitterly in the face of Europe's impotent response to the Hindawi
affair, "If you don't fight terrorists together, you will be blown up