July 1, 1973
Col. Yosef “Joe” Alon, a military attache at the Israeli Embassy to the United States, is shot five times in his driveway in Chevy Chase, Maryland, after attending a farewell party for an Israeli diplomat with his wife in Washington. He dies within an hour at a hospital.
A Voice of Palestine radio broadcast the same day says Alon has been “executed” in revenge for the killing two days earlier of Mohamed Boudia, the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in a suspected Mossad operation. Alon’s wife, Dovra, speculates that her husband worked for the Mossad, but the chief of the Israel Defense Forces general staff, Mordechai Gur, denies her suspicions. An FBI investigation into the killing focuses on Arab terrorism but is closed in March 1976 without resolution. The FBI reopens the investigation in 2017, thanks largely to investigative reporting by Adam Goldman.
Goldman learns from imprisoned terrorist Carlos the Jackal that Alon’s killers were Palestinian-sympathetic American military vets working for Black September, the Palestinian terrorist group responsible for the Munich Olympics massacre in 1972. A former State Department official, Fred Burton, writes in a 2011 book, “Chasing Shadows,” that the assassins were a Black September team and that the Mossad killed the shooter years later.
Alon was born Josef Placek to Czech parents on Kibbutz Ein Harod in 1929. His family returned to Czechoslovakia in 1931, but he was sent to England in 1939 after the start of World War II. The move saved Alon’s life; most of his family was killed in the Holocaust. He worked as a jeweler in Czechoslovakia after the war, then trained to be a pilot for what would become the Israeli Air Force and moved to Mandatory Palestine. He changed his name when he made aliyah. As a founder of the Israeli Air Force, he flew during the War of Independence. He was one of Israel’s first jet pilots, led its first squadron of Mirage fighters and completed 75 missions over two decades. He became an air and naval attache at the Washington embassy in 1970 and was due to return to Israel a month after his killing.