Ali Hassan Salameh

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Ali Hassan Salameh
Ali Hassan Salameh
Nickname(s)Red Prince
Qula, British Mandate for Palestine
Died22 January 1979(1979-01-22) (aged 38–39)
Beirut, Lebanon
Black September
Years of service1958–1979
RankChief of operations
UnitForce 17
Battles/warsMunich Massacre, Sabena Flight 571

Ali Hassan Salameh (Arabic: علي حسن سلامة‎, ʿAlī Ḥasan Salāmah) (1940 – 22 January 1979) was the chief of operations—code name Abu Hassan—for Black September, the organization responsible for the 1972 Munich massacre and other terror attacks. He was also the founder of Force 17, he was assassinated by Mossad in January 1979.[1]


Salameh was born in the Palestinian town of Qula, near the city of Jaffa, to a wealthy family in 1940.[citation needed] He was the son of Shaykh Hassan Salameh, who was killed in action by the Israeli army during the 1948 Palestine war near Lydda. Ali Salameh was educated in Germany and is thought to have received his military training in Cairo and Moscow[citation needed].

He was known for flaunting his wealth, being surrounded by women and driving sports cars, and having a very popular appeal among Palestinian young men; his nickname underlined his popularity—the "Red Prince." He served as the security chief of Fatah.[2] After the Munich Massacre during the 1972 Olympic Games, he was hunted by the Israeli Mossad during Operation Wrath of God. In 1973, Mossad killed an innocent Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchiki, in what became known as the Lillehammer affair in Norway, mistaking Bouchiki for Salameh, and resulting in the arrest of some of the Israeli agents.

As a result of the failure of Lillehammer and his alleged CIA protection, Salameh felt relatively safe, and hence did not act like a man on the run. Having lived under cover in various parts of the Middle East and Europe, in 1978 he married Georgina Rizk, a Lebanese celebrity who had been Miss Universe seven years earlier in 1971; the couple spent their honeymoon in Hawaii and then stayed at Disneyland, California.[3] When Rizk became pregnant, she returned to her flat in Beirut where Salameh also rented a separate apartment. Rizk was six months pregnant at the time of his death,[4] their son Ali Salameh is a political science graduate who studied in Canada.[5] By a prior marriage he was a grandson-in-law of Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, he had two sons from his first marriage to Um Hassan.[4][6]

According to several sources, Salameh served as a secret contact between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1970 until his death, guaranteeing not to assassinate US citizens in exchange for financial and political support. However, when asked by the Israelis, the relationship was denied by US officials,[7] he helped protect US citizens in Beirut, and his role was to facilitate contacts between the Palestinians and the US, in hope of obtaining US support for the Palestinians.[1][8]


It is believed[9] a Mossad agent, pseudonymously known as "Erika Chambers", a British citizen, took part in Salameh's assassination, she travelled to the Middle East with a charity supporting Palestinian refugees and arranged a meeting with Salameh in Beirut, where Salameh was being harbored by the Lebanese government. Chambers learned Salameh's daily routine.

On 22 January 1979, Salameh was in a convoy of two Chevrolet station wagons headed from Rizk's flat to his mother's for a birthday party.[3][10] Chambers was on her balcony painting, with her red Volkswagen parked below on Rue Verdun (an upscale commercial and residential street in Beirut); as Salameh's convoy passed the Volkswagen at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madame Curie,[11] 100 kg of explosive attached to the car by a fellow Mossad agent was remotely exploded,[1] either by Chambers or on her notification to another Mossad agent.[12]

The detonation left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body, he was rushed to the American University Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 p.m.[13] Salameh's four bodyguards were also killed in the explosion.[14] Four bystanders were also killed.[1][12] In addition, at least 16 people were injured in the blast.[14] Immediately following the operation, the three Mossad officers escaped as well as up to 14 other Mossad agents believed to have been involved in the operation.[12]


Salameh was buried in Beirut after a public funeral ceremony attended by Yasser Arafat and about 20,000 Palestinians on 24 January 1979.[15]

In popular culture


  • Bar-Zohar, Michael; Eitan Haber (1983). The Quest for The Red Prince: The Israeli Hunt for Ali Hassen Salameh the PLO leader who masterminded the Olympic Games Massacre. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-78063-2. which includes black-and-white photographic plates and which also include Yasser Arafat, together with an index.
  • Michael Bar Bar-Zohar and Eitan Haber (1 December 2005). Massacre in Munich: The Manhunt for the Killers Behind the 1972 Olympics Massacre; the Lyons Press. ISBN 978-1592289455.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Noam Shalev (24 January 2006). "The hunt for Black September". BBC News Online.
  2. ^ Ali Baghdadi (27 March 1998). "Other Voices: Time for Arafat to retire". Arab American News. Archived from the original on 11 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013. – via Highbeam (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b "An Eye For An Eye". CBS News. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  4. ^ a b "How MOSSAD got the Red Prince". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  5. ^ Ali Salamah, Georgina Rizk's son got married in Cairo, Egypt
  6. ^ Simon Reeve (2000). One Day in September: The Full Story of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and the Israeli Revenge Operation "Wrath of God". Arcade Publishing. p. 189. ISBN 978-1-55970-547-9.
  7. ^ David Ignatius (12 November 2004). "In the end, CIA-PLO links weren't helpful". U-T San Diego.
  8. ^ David Ignatius (16 September 2001). "Penetrating Terrorist Networks". Washington Post. p. B07.
  9. ^ "Munich (3): BBC set to name woman agent who killed Olympics massacre mastermind". 24 January 2006.
  10. ^ University of Southampton New Reporter. People. 9 (17). 8 March 1992.CS1 maint: Untitled periodical (link)
  11. ^ John Weisman (18 July 2006). "Conspiracy Theory". Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  12. ^ a b c "Death of a Terrorist". Time Magazine. 5 February 1979. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  13. ^ Simon Reeve (1 September 2000). One day in September. Arcade Publishing. ISBN 978-1559705479.
  14. ^ a b "Munich massacre leader killed in Beirut explosion". Observer Reporter. Beirut. AP. 23 January 1979. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Funeral held for Salameh". The Leader Post. Beirut. 25 January 1979. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  16. ^ David Ignatius (17 September 1997). Agents of Innocence. The Journal of Risk and Insurance. 64. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 205–230. ISBN 978-0393317381. JSTOR 253729.
  17. ^ Robert Ludlum (1 July 2008). The Janson Directive. St. Martin's Paperbacks. p. 581. ISBN 978-0312945152.