What Was Black September?

The Jordan Armed Forces captured the city of Amman from the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Jordan Armed Forces captured the city of Amman from the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Black September was a war that was fought in Jordan between the armed forces of Jordan and Palestinian Liberation Organization. The Jordan Armed Forces were under King Hussein while the Palestine Liberation Organization was under the leadership of Yasser Arafat. The conflict was at its peak between September 16 and 27, 1970. There was, however, some tension and aggression up to July 1971. The Black September was brewed by the Palestinians presence and aggression in Jordan.


The Palestine Army moved their camps and bases to Jordan after Jordan had lost control over the West Bank in 1967. The PLO staged attacks on Israel and its territories. The Palestine Liberation Organization was becoming more powerful and massive in Jordan. In early 1970, the PLO staged demonstrations pushing for the overthrow of Hashemite Monarchy. The Palestine fighters, commonly referred to as Fedayeen, become more aggressive and they attempted to assassinate King Hussein. Their attempt to assassinate King Hussein brewed contempt from the Jordanian Army, leading to violent confrontations between the two groups in June 1970. King Hussein had opted to expel the Palestine Liberation Organization out of the country. On September 10, 1970, the Fedayeen hijacked three aircraft and forced them to land in Zarqa. They torched the aircrafts in front of the international press, an incident referred to as Dawson’s Field Hijacking. Following this incident, King Hussein ordered that the PLO leave the country immediately.

Black September Conflict

On September 17, the Jordanian army set out to capture cities inhabited by the Palestine Liberation Army. They surrounded a number of cities including Amman and Irbid. They set out to shell the Fedayeen, who had set up Palestine refugee camps. On the 18th, a militia group from Syria joined forces with the Palestine Liberation Organization and started moving towards Ibrid. The Palestine Liberation Movement had declared Ibrid a liberated city.

On September 22, 1970, the Syrian forces surrendered after the Jordanian force launched an air-ground offensive. The Syrians withdrew from the war after incurring huge losses. Pressure build-up in Arab world forced King Hussein to call off the war.

On October 13, King Hussein and Arafat signed an agreement that sought to regulate the Fedayeen’s presence in Jordan. In January 1971, the Jordan Army again began attacking the Fedayeenm chasing away over 2,000 members from the cities. Some of the Fedayeen moved to a forest close to Ajloun. The Jordan Army finally surrounded the PLO. On realizing that they had been captured in the forest, they surrendered on July 17, 1871, bringing the conflict to an end. The Jordan Army ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization to leave for Lebanon through Syria.

Consequences of Black September

The Fedayeen, after being forced out of Jordan, enforced the Lebanese Civil War of 1975, fueling the war and leading to Lebanese disintegration. The Fedayeen also formed the Palestine Black September Movement. The militia group was formed after a section of the PLO who sought to avenge the losses they incured in Jordan broke off from the PLO main group. The war was also responsible for the widespread vandalism of property and death of people. The Jordanian Army killed about 25,000 Palestinians according to Arafat while Jordanians killed was about 537.

History and Legacy

The Black September is considered to be one of the most notable events in the history of Jordan. King Hussein’s courage and tact received praise from the western world and Israel. Establishment of the Black September Organization whose members were responsible for the assassination of the Jordanian Prime minister, Wasfi Al-Tal, on November 28, 1971 was a notable historical event of the war. Wasfi Al-Tal was assassinated by four of Black September Organization members in Cairo.


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