Terrorism Profiles

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Genera Command (PFLP-GC)

Alternative Names:

Al-Jibha Sha’biya lil-Tahrir Filistin-al-Qadiya al-Ama

Location:

Israel, Gaza, West Bank, Syria

Leadership:

Ahmed Jibril, an engineer and former Syrian army officer, remains the PFLP-GC’s leader. He is now based in Damascus, Syria.

Membership:

Unknown

Funding Sources:

Syria has provided financial support, training, and safe haven to all three groups. The PFLP-GC maintains headquarters in Damascus and also receives support from Iran.

Origins:

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) was founded in 1968 along with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP-GC is an Islamist Communist group committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel.

The group has been less active then the PFLP, however, the PFLP-GC has carried out dozens of attacks in Europe and the Middle East during the 1970-80s. The group is known for cross border attacks into Israel via unusual means such as hang gliders and hot air balloons.

The group is opposed to any negotiation with Israel and believes solely in a military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The PFLP-GC has been described as a Syrian proxy. The group has been fighting the Syrian War in support of Assad including the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in July 2013, as well as being headquartered in Damascus. The group has issued several statements in support of the Syrian government, Hizballah and Iran.

Major Attacks:

Carried out dozens of attacks in Europe and the Middle East during 1970s-‘80s:

The PFLP-GC bombed a Swiss airliner in 1970 (killing all 47 passengers and crew members)

The group claims a 1974 suicide bombing was the first such attack by a Palestinian.

It was the first Palestinian group to use suicide squads: in 1974, three members attacked Qiryat Shemona and killed 18 people before dying in a battle with Israeli soldiers.

In 1982, the PFLP-GC swapped three kidnapped Israeli reservists for more than 1,100 Arab captives.

A November 1987 hang glider attack that killed six Israeli soldiers helped spark the first intifada.

Ideological Roots:

The PFLP-GC is a Marxist, nationalist and secular organization. The group combines Arab nationalism with Marxist-Leninist ideology, which views the destruction of Israel as integral to the struggle to remove Western capitalism from the Middle East.

Objectives:

The group is committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel.

Tactics: 

The PFLP-GC has used barometric bombs to blow up aircraft, parcel-explosives sent through the mail as well as motorized hang-gliders in a guerilla raid into Israel.

During the 1990s and more recently, the PFLP-GC limited its activities to training and equipping other terrorist groups, such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Updated on January 21, 2016.

References


  1. "Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)." Global Security. Accessed January 20, 2016. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/pflpgc.htm
  2. "Proscribed Terrorist Organisations." UK Home Office. Last Modified October 30, 2015. Accessed January 21, 2016. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/472956/Proscription-update-20151030.pdf
  3. "PFLP, DFLP, PFLP-GC, Palestinian Leftists." Council on Foreign Relations. Last Modified October 31, 2005. Accessed January 21, 2016. http://www.cfr.org/israel/pflp-dflp-pflp-gc-palestinian-leftists/p9128
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