Odeh, Muhammad (Abu Daud; 1937–)

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ODEH, MUHAMMAD (Abu Daud; 1937–)

Palestinian activist, born in Silwan, Palestine. Muhammad Odeh studied law in Damascus, where he joined the Baʿth Party. Between 1962 and 1967 he taught in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, then obtained a post in the justice ministry in Kuwait. In 1968, having returned to Jordan, he joined al-Fatah and in 1970 was elected to the revolutionary council. In 1971 he was one of the main leaders of the Black September group, created to avenge Palestinians who died in September 1970 in confrontations with the Jordanian forces. On 5 September 1972 he participated in taking hostage a number of Israeli athletes competing in the Munich Olympics; eleven of the athletes were killed. On 10 February he was arrested in Jordan with a group of Palestinians accused of planning to assassinate King Hussein. On 1 March a Palestinian commando demanding his release took over the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Khartoum. Three Western diplomats died in the course of the operation. On 8 March the Soviet Union asked King Hussein to pardon him. On 5 September a Palestinian commando took the members of the Saudi embassy in Paris hostage, demanding Odeh's release. Sentenced first to death by Jordanian justice, and then to life imprisonment, he was amnestied by the king on 19 September 1973. Banished from Jordan, Odeh joined the ranks of a Jordanian National Revolutionary Movement that was demanding that King Hussein be deposed.

On 7 January 1977, while he was in Paris for the funeral of a Palestinian leader who had been assassinated a few days earlier, he was arrested by the French internal security service on an international arrest warrant. He was freed four days later, provoking a wave of international outrage. He returned to Lebanon but traveled widely in the Eastern bloc countries, escaping a 1981 assassination attempt in Warsaw. In 1996 Israel allowed him to return to the Palestinian territories to participate in a meeting of the Palestine National Council. In June 1999, after publishing his memoirs, in which he acknowledged his responsibility in the massacre at the Munich Olympic Games, he was named on an international arrest warrant from Germany and was banned from returning to the Palestinian territories.

SEE ALSO Baʿth;Black September Organization;Fatah, al-;Hussein ibn Talal;Palestine National Council.