March 28, 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the passing of great Palestinian national leader and legendary fighter Comrade Dr. Wadie Haddad, co-founder of the Arab Nationalist Movement and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The martyr Wadie Haddad was born in Safad in 1927. His father was an Arabic teacher in Haifa, where young Wadie attended primary and secondary school.
As a result of the Nakba and the Zionist conquest of Palestine in 1948, Wadie Haddad was forced from his homeland as a refugee with his family to Beirut, where they settled. Wadie attended the American University of Beirut and studied medicine. With the Nakba, a high sense of responsibility toward his people and their cause was born inside Wadie, who early on sought to engage with militant national struggle to liberate the land and people of Palestine.
While a student, he became involved with relief activities to support displaced Palestinian refugees and then became involved with youth politial organizing, where he soon became a leader of the Arab Nationalist youth along with George Habash, who he met at AUB. They held demonstrations and events, publishing a magazine. Following his graduation as a doctor, he joined Comrade Dr. George Habash to establish a free clinic in Jordan that also became a political centre for the Arab Nationalist movement in Jordan.
Through the early ANM’s involvement in the Jordanian Arab national movement, Wadie’s reputation as a dynamic leader grew. In April 1957, the Jordanian regime launched its attack against the national government of Al-Nabulsi and the national movement and launched a campaign of mass arrests against the leaders and activists of the movement, among them Dr. Wadie Haddad, who was held in a desert prison.
He was held there for three years until he was freed through intensive efforts, where he joined the Arab Nationalist Movement in Damascus. He became responsible for the military work of the Palestinian branch of the ANM. In light of the separation between Egypt and Syria, Wadie relocated to Beirut where he later took on responsibility for the military action of all branches of the Arab Nationalist Movement, and planned to launch armed action to confront the Zionist enemy.
After the defeat of June 1967, Wadie Haddad sought to create a Palestinian front uniting all forces in the Palestinian arena along the lines of the Algerian National Liberation Front. He opened a dialogue with the Fateh movement and the Palestine Liberation Front among others, but this position was rejected by Fateh and others. At this time, the leadership of the ANM saw the need to form a Palestinian mechanism of struggle taking the liberation of Palestine as its principal task and adopting all means of struggle in order to achieve it, and formed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
From the Front’s earliest days, Dr. Wadie Haddad held key roles in leadership of the PFLP, with his two main tasks finances and military action outside Palestine, where he implemented the slogan of “Behind the enemy, everywhere,” in a highly effective manner. The military operations carried out by the Front and the military tactics led by the comrade brought the issue of Palestine to the attention of the world, informing an international audience of the cause of the Palestinian people and their suffering due to the Zionist invasion which displaced them, dispossessed them from their lands, and forced them into exile and refugee camps, and their struggle for freedom, return and liberation. He was labelled the “most dangerous man in the world,” a symbol of the “new Palestinian,” the revolutionary confronting the enemy.
In the years before his death, Dr. Wadie Haddad was outside the Front following a political dispute over the continuation of military operations outside Palestine. He died in 1978 in East Germany, as the result of a targeted assassination via poisoning by the Mossad. At the Front’s Fifth National Conference, his status in the Front was restored posthumously. His militant role at a Palestinian and pan-Arab level is unparalleled, as one who gave everything for the sake of the liberation of Palestine and sought to reach that goal in the shortest time via the most direct route.