September 25, 1970 – Black September – The Urge To Leave Jordan . . .Quickly – Past Daily Reference Room
Voice Of America – Notice to all U.S. Citizens and European Nationals to leave Jordan – September 25, 1970 – VOA – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
The events of September 1970 in Jordan have enjoyed a variety of definitions, titles and nicknames, the most common being ‘Black September’ and a ‘civil war’.
Black September (Arabic: أيلول الأسود; Aylūl Al-Aswad) was a conflict fought in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF), under the leadership of King Hussein, and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, primarily between 16 and 27 September 1970, with certain aspects of the conflict continuing until 17 July 1971.
After Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel in 1967, Palestinian fighters known as fedayeen moved their bases to Jordan and stepped up their attacks on Israel and Israeli-occupied territories. One Israeli retaliation on a PLO camp based in Karameh, a Jordanian town along the border with the West Bank, developed into a full-scale battle. The perceived joint Jordanian-Palestinian victory against Israel during the 1968 Battle of Karameh led to an upsurge in Arab support for the fedayeen in Jordan, in both new recruits and financial aid. The PLO’s strength in Jordan grew, and by the beginning of 1970, groups within the PLO had begun to openly call for the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy.
Acting as a state within a state, the fedayeen disregarded local laws and regulations, and even attempted to assassinate King Hussein twice—leading to violent confrontations between them and the Jordanian Army in June 1970. Hussein wanted to oust them from the country, but hesitated to strike because he did not want his enemies to use it against him by equating Palestinian fighters with civilians. PLO actions in Jordan culminated in the Dawson’s Field hijackings incident of 6 September, in which the PFLP hijacked three civilian aircraft and forced their landing in Zarqa, taking foreign nationals as hostages, and later blowing up the planes in front of international press. Hussein saw this as the last straw, and ordered the army to take action.
On 17 September, the Jordanian Army surrounded cities with significant PLO presence including Amman and Irbid, and began shelling Palestinian refugee camps where the fedayeen were established. The next day, forces from the Syrian Army, with Palestine Liberation Army markings, intervened in support of the fedayeen and advanced towards Irbid which the fedayeen had occupied and declared to be a “liberated” city. On 22 September, the Syrians withdrew from Irbid after the Jordanians launched an air-ground offensive that inflicted heavy losses on the Syrians. Mounting pressure by Arab countries (such as Iraq) led Hussein to halt the fighting. On 13 October he signed an agreement with Arafat to regulate the fedayeen’s presence in Jordan. However, the Jordanian military attacked again in January 1971 and the fedayeen were driven out of the cities, one by one, until 2,000 fedayeen surrendered after being surrounded in a forest near Ajloun on 17 July, marking the end of the conflict.
Throughout the week, ending on the September 25, the Voice Of America was broadcasting instructions to U.S. citizens as well as Europeans and Chinese to leave Jordan as quickly as possible, and no later than the 25th.
A little over a minute, but chilling nonetheless.