The Corner

A Few Names

I’ve just seen a headline about how al-Qaeda has urged its people to kill more U.S. diplomats. And I was thinking, this is an old, old story . . .

Our ambassador to Sudan, Cleo Noel, was killed in 1973. He was killed on direct orders from Yasser Arafat. Vernon Walters told me that he personally listened to the intercepts. (Walters was at the CIA at the time.)

In 2004, just for the hell of it, I asked Efraim Halevy, the former head of the Mossad, “Why doesn’t my country hold it against Arafat that he had Noel murdered?” Halevy said, “I don’t know.”

When I related this to Bill Buckley, he said, “‘I don’t know’ can be a powerful answer,” which it was.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were very close to Arafat. After the Gulf War, the Saudis were unhappy with Arafat, because he had sided with Saddam Hussein. They cut off funding to him. Arafat asked Carter to fly to Riyadh to smooth things over for him. He did.

Carter also ghostwrote speeches for Arafat. A sample? “Our people, who face Israeli bullets, have no weapons: only a few stones remaining when our homes are destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.” (If you’re interested, you’ll find this stuff in my book on the Nobel Peace Prize. Arafat and Carter were fellow laureates, of course.)

In the eight years of Bill Clinton, who was the single most frequent foreign visitor to the White House? Arafat.

When I interviewed Condoleezza Rice, while she was serving as national-security adviser, she answered every question I put to her, except one — about Cleo Noel (and Arafat’s responsibility for his murder). Interesting.

Another name came across my mind in the last couple of days: Malcolm Kerr. When I was a Near Eastern Studies student, he was a big deal, an important scholar. I had some writings of his assigned to me. He was president of the American University of Beirut. When I was in college — reading him — he was killed.

There are many, many more names, of course. I think of Col. William R. Higgins, who was with the peacekeeping force in Lebanon. I’m talking about blue helmets, U.N. troops. Hezbollah got a hold of him — they tortured him and hanged him. They then circulated a film of what they had done. This is regarded as the first of a new genre: the jihadist snuff film.

I could go on, and I’m sorry about the extreme melancholy of this post. But there is more than melancholy: an extreme indignation, and an eagerness to see these SOBs stood up to.

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