Isabel Kershner
The New York Times
August 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Amin al-Hindi, an associate of the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and a former Palestinian Authority intelligence chief who was widely suspected of having played an organizing role in the deadly attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, died Tuesday in Amman, Jordan. He was 70.

His death was reported by the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, which did not list the cause. However, the Palestinian ambassador in Amman, Atallah Kheiry, told Agence France-Presse that Mr. Hindi had been treated for cancer.

Mr. Hindi was born in Gaza in 1940 but spent many years in exile as a security officer for Fatah, the Palestinian national liberation movement that was founded by Arafat in the late 1950s and became the dominant force in the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian umbrella group.

If Mr. Hindi was involved in the Munich attack — he never publicly acknowledged any responsibility — he may have been the last of the plotters to survive. Several were tracked down and killed by Israeli counterterrorist squads abroad. The self-declared mastermind of the attack, Mohammed Oudeh, better known by his guerrilla name, Abu Daoud, died in early July in Damascus at age 73.

The Munich attack, carried out by Black September, a shadowy terrorist apparatus associated with Fatah and the P.L.O., shocked people around the world. Eight Palestinians broke into a dormitory at the Olympic village where Israeli team members were sleeping and took them hostage in the early morning of Sept. 5, 1972. Two of them tried to overpower the militants and were shot and killed.

Israel refused to accede to the terrorists’ demands to release Palestinian prisoners, and the nine remaining hostages and their captors were eventually transported by helicopters to a military airfield, where officials said they were to be flown to Cairo. Instead, West German sharpshooters tried to rescue the Israelis, setting off a gun battle in which five Palestinians, a German police officer and the nine hostages were killed.

Mr. Hindi’s possible involvement was never made clear, and in the mid-1990s Israel allowed him to return home to the territories that it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. He then assumed a senior position in Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, established as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace accords.

He became the commander of the Palestinian General Security and Intelligence Service, a position he held until 2005, with the rank of general. In his capacity as security chief he had frequent contact with Israeli security officials who forgave his past in the interest of trying to forge stability and peace.

Mr. Hindi’s body was brought overland from Jordan to the West Bank on Wednesday morning, and Arafat’s successor, President Mahmoud Abbas, and other Palestinian leaders held a ceremony with military honors at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He is expected to be buried in his native Gaza.


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