Among the Hyde Park friends of Barack Obama was former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi. Khalidi was on the faculty of the University of Chicago, at whose law school Obama was a lecturer. Their children attended the same school. The Khalidis and the Obamas became friends and dinner companions.
As Paul notes below, when Khalidi moved from the University of Chicago to Columbia, Obama attended the dinner honoring Khalidi. Obama saluted Khalidi for "offer[ing] constant reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases." What a guy.
Last night FOX News reported that Khalidi wrote an obituary for Salah Khalaf (also known as Abu Iyad) when he died in 1991. According to the FOX News report, Khalidi praised Khalad and said he would be "sorely missed by the Palestinian people to whom he devoted his life."
Khalaf held many PLO posts. In Inside the PLO Neil Livingstone and David Halevy report that Khalaf was the PLO's spymaster, the leader of its security and covert apparatus and the principal link to so-called rejection front elements like Abu Nidal. He directly oversaw the PLO's internal security including Force 17, the Special Operations Group and the Intelligence and Security Apparatus.
Khalaf was also the commander in chief of the terrorist Black September organization. Black September was a PLO front group that answered directly to Yasser Arafat. It is of course best known for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.
Among its other operations was the 1973 seizure of the Saudi embassy in Khartoum. During the operation the American ambassador to Sudan (Cleo Noel) and his deputy chief of misson (George Curtis Moore) were both brutally murdered on Arafat's orders along with the Belgian diplomat Guy Eid. Khalaf was involved in the planning of the operation and directed the seizure of the embassy. (I tell the story of the operation in "How Arafat got away with murder.")
Before they murdered Noel, Moore and Eid, the Black September terrorists demanded the release of Robert Kennedy's assassin Sirhan Sirhan. Obama's friends Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were also big fans of Sirhan Sirhan. FOX News also reported this week that Obama's friends Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn dedicated their 1974 book Prairie Fire to "political prisoners" including Sirhan Sirhan.
I wonder if Obama has had a chance to discuss the fans of Sirhan Sirhan within his circle of friends as he has met up with the members of the Kennedy family who are supporting his election for president. Obama would note that he was only six years old when Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Would that cut it? The younger generation of the Kennedy family that lost its father and uncle wasn't much older at the time either...