In early 1970, Jordon was home to several thousand Palestinian refugees, and therefore to the Palestinian guerrilla movements.
In the first week of June, six members of the Baader-Meinhof Gang arrived in a PDFLP camp in near Javesh, Jordan near the Syrian border. They left for Germany on August 9, to begin what would become the worst episode of terrorism in post-war Europe.
In June, fighting broke out between the Jordanian army and the Palestinians, who virtually formed a state within a state. It ended with a ceasefire, followed by an uneasy lull that in September would explode in full-scale civil war.
Meanwhile, in Algiers, some thirteen revolutionary movements had established offices with the support of the Algerian government. Two of these were of particular interest to the CIA: the Black Panthers and the Provisional Government of South Vietnam. Eldridge Cleaver, the leader of the Panthers’ “International Section,” had gone into exile in 1969, first to Cuba and then Algiers. The Black Panthers developed links with other revolutionary movements, particularly the Provincial Government of South Vietnam, which represented the Viet Cong at a time when the war in Vietnam had entered the final and decisive phase.
For these reasons, in the summer of 1970 Jordan was the focus for several intelligence services, including Israel’s Mossad, SDECE, the CIA and the SIS.
Pierre Nadeau visits for the CBC
Early in June, 1970, a Montreal freelance journalist by the name of Pierre Nadeau, along with a cameraman, Roger Cardinal, and a photographer, Ronald Labelle, flew to Cairo, then Beirut and then to Amman, Jordan. They were to spend a month in the Middle East to film a one-hour documentary on Palestinian guerrilla movements. After several days in Amman interviewing members of the main movement, Al Fatah, they drove north on the road to Damascus. They turned off at Javesh, a small town a hundred kilometres north of Amman, and continued two kilometres into the hills overlooking the town, to a collection of tents nestled beneath some pine trees. It was Camp el Souf, the main guerrilla training camp for the PDFLP. There were some sixty young recruits at the camp, undergoing a two-month program of military and political training.
Sélim and Salem
While the three journalists watched an instructor teach the art of grenade throwing, one of the trainees passed by. He wore dark glasses and a keffiyeh that covered his face; Nadeau noticed that his arms and hands were light-skinned. He asked his Lebanese guide, “are there foreigners among you.”
“Certainly, there are others here. Lebanese like me, Saudis, Egyptians, Turks. There are even some from Quebec.” Just ten, the man with the dark glasses approached.
“You are a Quebecker” asked Nadeau. “Yes, how do you know?”
A second man, his face also obscured by a scarf, approached and extended his hand.
Pierre-Paul Geoffroy Réseau
“It is a pleasure to see you, it is not often that there are people from home here.”
The man with the glasses introduced himself as Sélim. He told Nadeau that the two had been members of the Pierre-Paul Geoffroy network and had fled to New York following Geoffroy’s arrest. Eventually Sélim mad his way to Cuba, while Salem, the second man, returned to Montreal. In December 1969, they met up in Algiers. They had arrived at the camp at Javesh not long before the Canadian journalists.
Pierre Nadeau interviews Sélim
NADEAU: What are you doing here?
SÉLIM: Undergoing training, the regular training of the PDFLP.
NADEAU: To what end?
SÉLIM: To acquire military training that, unhappily because of the situation in Quebec, is lacking. Upon returning home, it could doubtless be put into practice.
NADEAU: Put into practice… to what end exactly?
SÉLIM: For the liberation of Quebec… until the political and economic independence in the face of the American giant.
NADEAU: Here you must, theoretically, and practically, follow two courses; one course in military training and one political.
SÉLIM: Let us say that the political course has been already assimilated by lectures and meetings attended in Quebec.
NADEAU: To what movement did you belong to in Quebec?
SÉLIM: To the FLQ…
NADEAU: But here, you have come to learn to kill, to a certain extent.
SÉLIM: More or less, more to kill than to mobilize the popular masses.
NADEAU: Do you communicate with your comrades?
SÉLIM: It is difficult enough; we do not speak Arabic. We communicate through Abounida.
NADEAU: Abounida, the Lebanese?
NADEAU: Well, what is your objective, on returning to Quebec?
SÉLIM: In returning to Quebec, it will be to… orient our military tactics toward selective assassination. For too long the FLQ has been synonymous with bombs, useless violence, murderous actions; now we are going to be content with selective assassination: the truly responsible will pay.
NADEAU: Who is that, the truly responsible? Do you have any names in mind?
SÉLIM: We have names in mind.
NADEAU: Which names? If you had to kill someone in Quebec, for example, who would you kill?
SÉLIM: From a practical point of view, I would begin by killing the Prime Minister, but, evidently, that is not very possible. But one could begin by taking down those who have already been targeted by our terrorist attacks.Pierre Nadeau, Perspectives, August 15, 1970, pp.2-5.
Whatever film might have been made has never seen the light of day. But on the 15th of August, 1970. an article by Pierre Nadeau about the extraordinary meeting in Camp el Souf appeared in two widely-distributed Canadian magazines under the headline “Selective assassination.”It gave a word-for-word account of the interview with Sélim and Salem.
Things left unsaid
However, certain aspects of the meeting at Camp el Souf did not appear in the article.
DGIS John Starnes visits the BfV, the German domestic intelligence service
On the 22nd of June, shortly after Nadeau’s interview, Director General of the RCMP Security and Intelligence Branch , John Starnes, travelled to Cologne, Germany, for a visit to the headquarters of the Bundesamt feur verfassunssutz (BfV (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution), the German domestic intelligence service. There he met the President of the BfV, Hubert Schrübbers. That Starnes, as DGIS, should be received by the President of the BfV is entirely as expected, following the protocol for visitors. But Starnes also met with another BfV official, a Mr. H. Schrenbbenss.
Starnes meets a BfV official
We don’t know who Mr. Schrenbbenss is or what his role was at the time of the meeting, but we can make an educated guess. Sélim and Salem, were at the PDFLP camp precisely when the top BfV targets that existed at the time, Andréus Baader, Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin, along with their terrorist associates, who formed the RAF (Rote Armée Faktion), later the Baader-Meinhof gang, were also there. One might guess that Mr. Schrenbbenss was head of the GfV section of group responsible for the file on the Baader-Meinhof-RAF phenomenon. For him so speak with John Starnes, and share top secret material, would require explicit approval from the top of BfV, President Hubert Schrübbers.
The true role of Sélim and Salem
There is one other aspect of interest. When Pierre Nadeau, Roger Cardinal and Ronald Labelle passed through Beirut on their way to the Camp el Souf, they learned from a Lebanese intelligence officer that the two persons they would meet were in fact intelligence operatives. The encounter with Sélim a hundred kilometres north of Amman had not been by accident. The RCMP Security Service had engineered the visit to Camp el Souf for precisely that purpose
The visit was the beginning of a Security Service operation to penetrate revolutionary and terrorist movements in the Middle East and the FLQ. Nadeau’s article on 15 August under its provocative title was to create a ‘legend’ for Sélim and Salem, a cover that would enable the two men to burrow deep within the FLQ and the revolutionary movements of the Middle East. However, as Mario Bachand would find out, “selective assassination was more than a phrase in a popular magazine.