Syria-based secession Palestinian elects new leader


Damascus, Syria (AP) — A segregated Palestinian faction that launched a headline-grabbing attack on Israel in the 1970s and 1980s nominated a new veteran leader after the death of its long-time founder. The group said on Sunday.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Talal Nagy was elected during a meeting in Damascus. He will replace Ahmed Jibril, who died of illness on July 7 for several months.

Naji was born in 1946 in Nazaré, Palestinian under British rule. He studied at a school in Syria, joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1962, and later joined the PFLP-GC.

Naji, who lost his arms and eyes due to a grenade explosion during training, has been the Deputy Secretary of the PFLP-GC since 1973. He received his PhD in political science from Moscow in 1984.

Khaled Jibril, the son of the late leader, was appointed on his behalf.

The PFLP-GC became known for its dramatic attacks on Israel, including the 1968 El Aljet airliner hijacking and the 1969 mechanical bombardment of another airliner at Zurich Airport. The flight from Zurich to Tel Aviv killed all 47 people on board.

A Damascus-based group also attacked Israel from a Lebanese base.

During Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, PFLP-GC captured three Israeli soldiers and negotiated their release in 1985 in exchange for more than 1,100 predominantly Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian prisoners.

Among those released in exchange, Kozo Okamoto of the Japanese Red Army, who participated in a shooting at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1972, killed 24 people. Okamoto lives in Lebanon, where he was granted political asylum decades ago.

One of the dramatic attacks of 1987 was carried out by two fighters who traveled from Lebanon to Israel on a hang glider and killed six Israeli soldiers. The attack was considered one of the first Intifada triggers.

This group is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and other Western countries.

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