A former National Security Agency intelligence analyst in the Middle East is formally petitioning Rep. Henry Hyde and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to investigate the disappearance of recordings made by the NSA of Yasser Arafat planning and directing the murders of two U.S. diplomats in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1973, a story first reported in WorldNetDaily.

On Feb. 28, 1973, James J. Welsh, the National Security Agency’s Palestinian analyst, says he was summoned by a colleague about a communication intercepted from Arafat involving an imminent Black September operation in Khartoum.

Within minutes, Welsh recalls, the director of the NSA was notified and the decision was made to send a rare “FLASH” message — the highest priority — to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum via the State Department.

But the message didn’t reach the embassy in time. Somewhere between the NSA and the State Department, someone decided the warning was too vague. The alert was downgraded in urgency. The next day, eight members of Black September, part of Arafat’s Fatah organization, stormed the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum, took U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel, diplomat Charge d’Affaires George Curtis Moore and others hostage. A day later, on March 2, 1973, Noel, Moore and Belgian Guy Eid were machine-gunned to death — all, Welsh charges, on the direct orders of Arafat.

Welsh, who left the Navy and NSA in 1974, accuses the U.S. government of a 28-year-old cover-up of Arafat’s role in the planning and execution of the attack.

“Over the years I have kept my silence about what I know about this tragic episode,” Welsh told WorldNetDaily. “But recently I began to wonder how recent administrations could overlook something as terrible as this in our dealings with Yasser Arafat.”

When President Clinton invited Arafat to the White House for direct negotiations on the Middle East, Welsh says, that was the last straw. He has been on a personal one-man mission to uncover the tape-recordings and transcripts of those intercepts between Arafat and Fatah leader Salah Khalaf, also known as Abu-Iyad, in Beirut and Khalil al-Wazir in Khartoum.

“I have decided that my oaths of secrecy must give way to my sense of right and wrong,” he told WorldNetDaily. “I was particularly outraged as I had spent four years following these individuals and, at the moment of our greatest intelligence coup against them, an uninformed GS level had pooh-poohed our work and cost the lives of two U.S. diplomats,” he recalls.

Welsh sent a letter to all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee March 27, detailing his charges. He sent another to Hyde March 31 after reading of the congressman’s call to re-examine U.S. policy toward the Palestinian Authority headed by Arafat.

In his letters, Welsh alleges that earlier congressional investigations were subverted with false and misleading information. He offers to assist investigations in any way he can.

“These tapes do exist,” claims Welsh. “I participated in their production. But no one has ever been willing to come forward and acknowledge their existence.”

Arafat reportedly ordered the eight gunmen to surrender peacefully to the Sudanese authorities. Two were released for “lack of evidence.” Later, in June 1973, the other six were found guilty of murdering the three diplomats. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and released 24 hours later to the PLO.

During their trial, commander Salim Rizak, also known as Abu Ghassan, told the court: “We carried out this operation on the orders of the Palestine Liberation Organization and should only be questioned by that organization.”

Sudanese Vice President Mohammed Bakir said, after questioning the six: “They relied on radio messages from Beirut Fatah headquarters, both for the order to kill the three diplomats and for their own surrender Sunday morning.”

“I know Yasser Arafat was a direct player in the murder of our diplomats and so has every U.S. administration since Richard Nixon’s,” says Welsh.

Before surrendering, the Khartoum terrorists demanded the release of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, as well as others being held in Israeli and European prisons. Nixon refused to negotiate.

“The problem is not Arafat’s occasional lapses of sincerity or honesty,” Welsh wrote to Hyde. “If that was the true problem, perhaps we could continue to try to work to guide him to the desired goal of peace. The problem is Arafat himself. He is an unrepentant murderer. To deal with him at any level other than this is hopelessly na?ve or indicative of using this issue for mere political posturing. There can be no peace with Arafat as an active participant in the process.”

Welsh believes Congress must demand that the executive branch of government release to the public the tape recordings of Arafat’s calls to the terrorists in Sudan.

“There are no compelling national security or intelligence source issues today that would prevent this action,” he wrote. “For 28 years these tapes have been withheld from Congress and the American people.”

Earlier story:

Is U.S. hiding Arafat murders?

Related column:

Murderer as peacemaker?

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.