INTRODUCTION: The leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat, has attended a rally held in Beirut to mark the death of a guerrilla last month.
CU Yasser Arafat at rally with young child on his knee
CU Photographer taking pictures
CU Arafat embracing Captain Rafiq al-Salemi's brother
CU Photograph of Captain al-Salemi
SV Arafat being applauded by crowd and speaking in Arabic with helmeted guards behind him
CU Arafat takes drink and resumes speech. Crowd applauds
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat, has attended a rally held in Beirut to mark the death of a guerrilla last month. According to the PLO, the dead man was Captain Rafiq al-Salemi, a member of the Fatah commando group.
SYNOPSIS: Yasser Arafat offered his sympathies to members of Captain Salemi's family at the rally, which was held on Thursday (19 February). He had died in Gaza 40 days earlier, but the circumstances of his death were not revealed. His brother was among a number of Palestinian and let-wing Lebanese leaders there.
In a speech, Mr. Arafat maintained that new plotting against the Palestinian commando movement was taking place.
He also attacked Major Saad Haddad, the renegade Lebanese army officer who is leading a right-wing Christian militia on the southern border. And he claimed that southern Lebanon was being used as a testing ground for new American weapons, including warplanes.
There was no report of Captain Salemi's death at the time the PLO said it took place. The most recent case involved a pilot said to have belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who died on January 18th.
Although the PLO has no military aircraft of its own, the PFLP claims to be training pilots for suicide missions against Israel. Several Arab countries, including Syria and the Libyan Jamahiriyah, have pilots of Palestinian descent.
Last Tuesday (17 February) a PLO leader revealed that hundreds of Palestinian officers have graduated from Soviet military academies. Arrangements for their training were made when Yasser Arafat visited Moscow last year.