Terrorist Organization Profile:
|الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين|
|al-Jabha ash-Sha'abiya li-Tahrir Falastin|
|Israel, West Bank/Gaza|
|Approximately 800 members|
|Syria provides financial support and safehaven to the PFLP. Libya has also provided financial support. Up until the 1980s, the Soviet Union and China were the PFLP's main supporters due to their ideological similarities|
|The PFLP is a Marxist-Leninist, Palestinian secular nationalist movement. The PFLP was founded in 1967 by George Habash after the crushing defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. This defeat largely discredited the pan-Arab movement and focused attention towards Palestinian nationalism. Inspired by revolutionary Marxist-Leninist ideology, Habash and the PFLP saw the Palestinian nationalist movement as part of a broader movement to transform the Arab world along Marxist-Leninist lines. The PFLP joined the PLO in 1968 and quickly became the organization's second-largest faction (behind Arafat's Fatah faction). Though the PFLP is committed to destroying Israel, it also opposes conservative Arab regimes, seeking to replace them with Marxist-Leninist states.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the PFLP conducted a series of high-profile terrorist attacks around the world, pioneering the use of airplane hijackings to bring attention to the Palestinian cause. In 1970, the group hijacked 4 commercial airliners, forcing them to land in Jordan, and eventually blowing them up after evacuating the hostages. This attack led to the "Black September" of 1970 in which King Hussein expelled all Palestinian organizations from Jordan. In 1976, despite a PLO agreement to end terrorism outside of Israel, PFLP operatives and German Baader-Meinhof terrorists hijacked an airliner that was famously rescued by Israeli commandos in Entebbe, Uganda. Faced with decreasing support from the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the PFLP became an increasingly marginalized player in the Palestinian nationalist movement.
|The PFLP vehemently opposes the peace process with Israel and continues to espouse the use of violence against Israeli targets. It believes that Fatah, the PLO, and the Palestinian Authority effectively sold out the Palestinian people by agreeing to negotiate with Israel. In 1999, the PFLP leadership reconciled with Arafat and his Fatah faction in an effort to increase the group's role and visibility in the Palestinian cause. In 2002, in an effort to crack down on militants, the Palestinian Authority arrested the PFLP's Secretary General, further straining the relationship between Arafat/Fatah and the PFLP.
The PFLP has continued to conduct limited operations against Israel, including the assassination of Israel's tourism minister in 2001. Despite these operations, the PFLP continues to be a marginal player in the Palestinian movement, losing ground to both Islamist (Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and secular (Fatah) rivals.
- al-Fatah -- Rival and Ally
- Anti-Imperialist International Brigade -- Ally
- Baader-Meinhof Group -- Ally
- Black September -- Shared Members
- Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) -- Splinter Group
- Hamas -- Ally
- Islamic Movement for Change -- Other Affiliation
- Japanese Red Army (JRA) -- Ally
- Martyr Abu-Ali Mustafa Brigades -- Armed Wing
- Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) -- Rival and Ally
- Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) -- Rival and Ally
- Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command (PFLP-GC) -- Splinter Group
- Popular Resistance Committees -- Shared Members
U.S. Government Designations
|Yes (in 2005)|
Learn more about these U.S. Department of State classifications:
Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL)
Other Governments' Designations