On the thirteenth anniversary of the assassination of Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, on August 27, 2001, by the Zionist occupation forces with US-funded and US-made weaponry, it must be noted that the Zionist policy of assassination has been in constant use against Palestinian national leaders and leaders of the resistance since the inception of Zionist colonization in Palestine.

“There is a constant Zionist policy to assassinate Palestinian leaders since the founding of the state of ‘Israel’ and even before,” said Comrade Khaled Barakat. “In fact, before the establishment of the Zionist state, Zionist forces carried out assassinations against Palestinians and even against the representative of the United Nations. When you study the history and the politics of the occupation state, you will find that major leaders of the state were involved in assassinations personally. It is a state led by assassins – Begin, Rabin, Shamir, Barak, Livni – all participated physically in not only shaping the policy of assassinations, but in executing this policy.”

“The ‘Israeli’ intelligence service, the Mossad, carried out numerous assassination operations against Arab scientists, Palestinian revolutionaries, leaders of our people. We remember the countless names of the voices of our people and the tribunes of our revolution murdered by the occupier,” said Barakat.

“The founders and leaders of the state are assassins. It is a state led by a bunch of killers and assassins. Assassination is built into the nature of the state as a racist, settler-colonial enterprised based on the liquidation of the Palestinian people.”

Barakat noted, “There is nothing new about assassination for Palestinians. But today, the ‘Israeli’ occupation is launching massive attacks under the pretext of ‘eliminating the leaders of terrorist groups in Gaza’ by literally killing entire neighborhoods and destroying apartment blocks. This is assassination and demolition at the same time aimed at our people as a whole. These are war crimes against the entire population, and cannot be separated from the assassination policy. The aim is to destroy our people’s leadership and their will and determination to struggle, remain, and live.”

“There is not a single case of a so-called ‘special operation’ against Palestinian leaders in Gaza that has not killed or injured tens of Palestinians, from the killing of Salah Shehadeh in 2002 with a one-ton bomb dropped on an entire apartment building to the assassination of Comrade Mahmoud Osama Abo Omreen on August 25, when the Zionist assault from the air injured 11 children,” Barakat said.

“Inside Palestine, we saw a wave of assassinations and assassination attempts against elected Palestinian mayors, including the mayors of Nablus, Ramallah, al-Khalil, Tulkarem, Bethlehem and al-Bireh. We also saw a wave of assassinations inside occupation prisons and in the interrogation rooms, killing tens of Palestinians,” said Barakat.

“The reason that ‘Israel’ engages in these ‘targeted killings’ is to eliminate the role of national leaders. This is a colonial mindset and practice that is, of course, not limited to the occupation state. All imperialist and colonial powers have adopted the policy of assassination as a means of suppressing indigenous resistance and confronting national liberation movements and their leaders,” said Barakat.

“We see the United States today not only providing the weaponry for ‘Israel’s’ assasinations, but engaging in drone assassinations against the Afghani and Pakistani people. We remember the legacy of Patrice Lumumba, Mehdi Ben Barka, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, Gabriela Silang, Amilcar Cabral, Chris Hani, Steven Biko, Victor Jara, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Orlando Letelier, Farabundo Marti, Augusto Sandino, Crazy Horse, James Connolly and the thousands of strugglers, organizers, workers and leaders of anti-colonial and liberation movements assassinated in the pursuit of racist and colonial domination,” Barakat said.

“The question remains, how to confront the assassination policy? There are several key points:

“1. By making it costly to the occupier, which means, simply, that your leaders and your prime ministers and your ambassadors will also be targeted. Every national liberation movement has different tactics and each movement has and will choose its way of confronting assassinations. But for Palestinians, experience has taught us that the occupier must also be targeted. It is this that inhibited the occupation state from killing Palestinian leaders in Europe, when France brokered a secret deal between the PLO and Israel that no assassinations will be taking place on European land. The only reason ‘Israel’ accepted this ‘understanding’ then is because the Palestinian resistance responded to the assassinations of its leaders. This ‘understanding’ also has held in the United States and other places around the world.

“2. To elect leaders who will remain upon the path of the fallen martyrs, take up, continue and extend the resistance. This defeats the ‘Israeli’ agenda, which aims to eliminate the role of a leader, and not simply the physical person. This, for example, was the case when Israel assassinated Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa. The Front responded by electing Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat and also with a physical response that it took on October 17, 2001, when they responded by assassinating the racist, extreme right-wing, infamous Zionist minister Rehavam Zeevi. This combined both a political and a military response to the assassination policy.

“3. By exposing the failure of this policy to the world and recording these crimes, for which the punishment will inevitably come, whether today or tomorrow. The many crimes that were committed in assassinating leaders in apartheid South Africa, Pinochet’s Chile, and Franco’s Spain did not vanish into history unrecorded and unpunished. The political and military leadership of the occupation state must be put on trial – this is a constant Palestinian demand until the liberation of Palestine.

“4. The Palestinian resistance must make it more difficult for the Israelis to carry out these assasinations by learning from mistakes and by making it a difficult task for the occupier’s military and intelligence services to carry out its assassination policy. Palestinians aim to make this policy a failure, as it was in the attempt to assassinate Khaled Mishaal in Jordan in 1997 and other similar cases.

“5. In all of these operations ‘Israel’ has used Canadian, US and other foreign passports. These countries are usually complicit in Israeli crimes. These are the countries that provide the military and economic support, and the political cover for the occupation state. It is not a coincidence that the Canadian and US passports are the most infamous passports used by the Mossad to carry out these operations.

“6. Finally, popular campaigns against such policies which combine legal, political and educational elements. It is important to always include assassinations when we discuss the war crimes for which Israeli leaders are responsible – Barak, Dichter, Livni and other Israeli war criminals who not only order assassinations but participate in them,” said Barakat.

“Most important,” Barakat said, “is to keep the legacy of our martyred leaders alive by making them immortal. This is what Palestinians have always understood throughout their struggle and their history – commemorating the martyrs, remembering their names is critical – but not only their names, but their legacies of struggle and their political vision. This is particularly the case for those who have left behind their fingerprints on the fabric of the Palestinian liberation movement, through rich histories of struggle and resistance, and through art, poetry, short stories and theatre. Every Palestinian knows who is Naji al-Ali, who is Ghassan Kanafani. They are known because their legacy has been kept in the Palstinian collective consciousness. And they became symbols of Palestinian resistance for freedom, return, and liberation. This is the only choice of Palestinians to carry on our struggle, to keep our martyrs alive, before and after liberation, immortal.”

As the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian people today mark the 13th anniversary of the martyrdom of Abu Ali Mustafa, what we remember is to cherish the thoughts, the practices, and the goals for which he fought all of his life. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the PFLP, carries his name, keeping his memory alive with every resistance action, not only for the Front, or even for the Palestinian people alone, but for all those who fight for justice and liberation.

Rallies and events will take place in Lebanon, Jenin, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Damascus, Amman, Berlin, Austin and many other cities upholding the legacy of Abu Ali Mustafa. These events send a clear message: Abu Ali Mustafa, his legacy, his vision, and his struggle, is still alive, and marches toward victory.