Leaving Islam



Did the PLO Murder Robert Kennedy?

By Mel Ayton


The issue of a possible conspiracy in the murder of Senator Robert F Kennedy in 1968 has once again been resurrected with the publication of Peter Evans's book Nemesis and the recent calls from Hollywood celebrities and magazine writers to re-open the case.*

The principal discrepancy which led to charges of conspiracy turned on the number of shots fired. Conspiracy researchers alleged they were more than the number of bullets Sirhan’s gun could hold. However, in 1995 investigative reporter Dan Moldea, a former conspiracy advocate, published the results of his investigation into the murder of Robert Kennedy in The Killing Of Robert Kennedy - An Investigation into Motive, Means and Opportunity (1995). Moldea poured over the mountain of evidence in the case. He studied the forensic and ballistic reports and interviewed scores of witnesses, including many of the police officers involved who had never been interviewed previously. What he found suggested a botched investigation involving the mishandling of physical evidence in the case, the failure to correctly interview some witnesses, the premature (but non-sinister) destruction of key pieces of physical evidence and the lack of proper procedures in securing and investigating the crime scene. Moldea successfully addressed the issues of alleged bullet holes in door frames (too small to be made by bullets) and the number of shots fired (8, not 10 as conspiracy advocates allege).

Amongst conspiracy advocates, only Peter Evans supported the argument that Sirhan likely fired the gun that killed Kennedy. Yet his allegation that Aristotle Onassis ordered the assassination is flawed. Evans alleged that Sirhan had been ordered to kill RFK by PLO official Mahmoud Hamshari. He claims to have unearthed evidence that Aristotle Onassis had given Hamshari money to direct his PLO terrorists away from his Olympic Airways airlines at a time when planes were being hijacked and that some of the money was used to hire Sirhan to kill RFK. Evans claimed that Onassis was aware of the plot and, indeed, wanted RFK eliminated so the New York Senator would not stand in the way of his marrying JFK’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy.

In fact there many inconsistencies in Evans's theory. Although the author accepts the statements made by Onassis's friends and relatives that the shipping tycoon admitted he had been responsible for RFK’s murder, he contradicts himself by quoting close Onassis aides as having had trouble sorting out their bosses’ “exaggerations, half-truths and lies.”

Central to Evans's thesis are entries in Sirhan’s notebooks which purportedly connected Aristotle Onassis to the assassin. Evans alleges Sirhan’s notebooks make reference to Alexander Onassis's girlfriend Fiona, whom his father detested, and Stavros Niarchos, his shipping rival, whom he also hated. However, Evans's juxtaposition of names to prove Sirhan wrote about killing Onassis's enemies is misleading. Sirhan had placed the name FIONA in a list of racehorse names – Fiona, Jet-Spec, Kings Abbey and Prince Khaled. The Arabic script consists of one sentence “He should be killed” (not “They should be killed” as Evans alleges) and does not refer to either Niarkos or Fiona. The diary entry "Niarkos" remains unexplained, as do many other entries in Sirhan’s notebooks, but there is no indication it refers to anyone on a Sirhan Death List. The words in Sirhan’s notebooks were the result of simple stream-of-consciousness ramblings he learned from Rosicrucian literature as ways to improve his life. The notebooks are filled with names of people Sirhan knew – Bert Altfillisch, Peggy Osterkamp and Gwen Gum for example, and people he didn’t know like Garner Ted Armstrong. The entries which refer to $100,000 were simply Sirhan’s obsessions about wealth and appear a number of times in the notebooks.

Central to Evans's thesis was the implication that Sirhan had spent a three month period before the assassination being trained by terrorists or undergoing hypnotic indoctrination. Evans was wrong in stating Sirhan’s movements were unaccounted for, or "a blanket of white fog" as he put it. Sirhan’s movements in the months prior to the assassination leave no unaccountable period when the assassin could have left the country to travel to the Middle East for terrorist training or have spent a considerable amount of time being "hypnotically indoctrinated." On March 7 Sirhan left his job at a Pasadena health food store. Following Martin Luther King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, he discussed the murder with Alvin Clark, a Pasadena garbage collector. Sirhan’s friend, Walter Crowe, met him in Pasadena on the night of May 2, 1968 when they discussed politics. The last time he saw Sirhan was on the Pasadena college campus on May 23, 1968. He was in Denny’s restaurant when Sirhan entered with a group of friends. This leaves only a two week period not accounted for. But Sirhan refers to local newspaper and local radio reports throughout the month of May which he could not have accessed if he had been out of the country. Besides, Sirhan was living at 696 E. Howard Street, Pasadena. Family and friends have never suggested he was missing during this period.

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