How the US foiled a Black September plot to assassinate Golda Meir

In 2009, news reports revealed that the plot by the group, an offshoot of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was uncovered by the NSA.

March 7, 2016 11:18
2 minute read.
Golda Meir Yasser Arafat

Golda Meir and Yasser Arafat. (photo credit: REUTERS,Wikimedia Commons)

The Black September terrorist organization hatched a plot to assassinate then-prime minister Golda Meir during a visit to New York, a former National Security Analyst told a radio talk show on Sunday.

In 2009, news reports revealed that the plot by the group, an offshoot of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was uncovered by the NSA.

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James J. Welsh, who was an NSA analyst of Palestinian communications, told weekend US talk show host and Breitbart Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein that Black September built three car bombs that it planned to detonate in three separate New York locations during Meir's trip to the city on March 4, 1973.

According to Welsh, one of the bombs was placed in El Al's cargo terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. The other bombs were placed at locations in Manhattan.

“That could have been a really terrible situation had Golda Meir’s motorcade been passing by one of the vehicles parked alongside outside the airport,” Welsh told Klein.

“And then of course if she had visited over there in downtown New York, where those could have been detonated if the first bomb hadn’t succeeded.”

Welsh told Klein that it was "another intelligence agency that the US works with" – and not the NSA – that intercepted messages "from the Iraqi United Nations office to the Iraqi embassy in Washington."

These messages contained very specific details about the plot, including the precise locations of the bombs.

“This message was to go to the Palestinian office in Baghdad for further transmittal, I’m sure to Beirut to Yasser Arafat,” Welsh said.

"The message was surprisingly a very detailed message about the placement of the bombs and why they were being done and we were just shocked," he said. "When we got the message it was decoded and then a question began about, well gosh, how do we disseminate this message?"

"And it was shocking. We had never really quite seen anything this detailed. And it was like, you’ve got to be kidding. The question that arose is we’ve got a bit of a technical problem, legal problem here. NSA is not supposed to intercept materials, transmissions, messages in the United States. However, we hadn’t actually. It had come from another intelligence agency that the US works with."

"And it was finally decided that we could then disseminate this message. The message went to a number of agencies, including the FBI, because the FBI had jurisdiction in these kinds of things."

The feds then alerted the New York Police Department, which promptly dispatched sappers to neutralize the bombs.

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