September 22, 2003

Arafat Bagman

Ion Mihai Pacepa, formerly chief of Romanian intelligence under Ceausescu, and as such a KGB operative, has been in the U.S. since he defected in 1978. In this piece for WSJ Online, he reveals how he personally arranged cash payments to Yasser Arafat to the tune of over $2 million per year through the 70's. And that was just from Romania. Other Soviet satellites made similar payments in addition to what the Soviets paid him themselves. This article serves as a useful reminder of the fact that Arafat the "political leader" was literally a KGB creation. Pacepa also tells of the con job that Ceausescu did on Jimmy Carter in 1978. But what dictator didn't charm Jimmy Carter?

An excerpt from Pacepa:

KGB chairman Yuri Andropov in February 1972 laughed to me about the Yankee gullibility for celebrities. We'd outgrown Stalinist cults of personality, but those crazy Americans were still naïve enough to revere national leaders. We would make Arafat into just such a figurehead and gradually move the PLO closer to power and statehood. Andropov thought that Vietnam-weary Americans would snatch at the smallest sign of conciliation to promote Arafat from terrorist to statesman in their hopes for peace.

Right after that meeting, I was given the KGB's "personal file" on Arafat. He was an Egyptian bourgeois turned into a devoted Marxist by KGB foreign intelligence. The KGB had trained him at its Balashikha special-ops school east of Moscow and in the mid-1960s decided to groom him as the future PLO leader. First, the KGB destroyed the official records of Arafat's birth in Cairo, replacing them with fictitious documents saying that he had been born in Jerusalem and was therefore a Palestinian by birth.

The KGB file on Arafat also said that in the Arab world only people who were truly good at deception could achieve high status. We Romanians were directed to help Arafat improve "his extraordinary talent for deceiving." The KGB chief of foreign intelligence, General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, ordered us to provide cover for Arafat's terror operations, while at the same time building up his international image. "Arafat is a brilliant stage manager," his letter concluded, "and we should put him to good use." In March 1978 I secretly brought Arafat to Bucharest for final instructions on how to behave in Washington. "You simply have to keep on pretending that you'll break with terrorism and that you'll recognize Israel -- over, and over, and over," Ceausescu told him for the umpteenth time. Ceausescu was euphoric over the prospect that both Arafat and he might be able to snag a Nobel Peace Prize with their fake displays of the olive branch.

Posted by dan at September 22, 2003 11:58 PM