Cleo A. Noel, Jr. – United States Ambassador

The three ambassadors who died violent deaths were Cleo Noel Jr.,killed in March 1973 when Palestinian terrorists struck an embassy in Sudan; Adolph Dubs, killed in 1973 when Afghan police stormed a hotel room where he was being held by terrorists; and Arnold Raphel, who died in 1988 when a plane crashed.

Receiving waivers as longtime diplomats with military service were William Rivkin and Philip Crowe. Rivkin, who died in 1967, served as ambassador to Senegal, Gambia and Luxembourg and spent five years of in the Army during World War II, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Crowe, who died in 1976, was ambassador to Denmark, Ceylon, South Africa and Norway; he also was an intelligence official in World War II and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

Ambassador Cleo A. Noel Jr. and George Curtis Moore – do you remember these names? You should. Ambassador Noel and Moore were among a group of men seized and held hostage by Yassir Arafat’s Black September terrorists during a reception at the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum. Their lives hung by a thread, a thread that Yassir Arafat ordered cut. His words ordering the execution of these top American officials and a Belgian diplomat were recorded by the Israelis who gave the tape to the State Department and President Nixon in March 1973. This was later confirmed by Gen. Ariel Sharon.

Cleo A. Noel Jr. and George Curtis Moore were among a group of men seized by Black September terrorists during a reception held at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum [Sudan]. The terrorists demanded the release of Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian assassin of Robert Kennedy, as well as terrorists being held in Israeli and European prisons. President Nixon refused to negotiate. The tape was of conversations between Arafat in Beirut and his thugs in Khartoum. Execute the diplomats, ordered Arafat. The terrorists obeyed, machine gunning the unarmed, hapless Noel and Moore. They also killed a Belgium diplomat. The authenticity of the tape was verified in U.S. laboratories by both the State Department and the White House.

On March 2, 1973, around 8:00pm (local) –Abu-Iyad called Abu-Ghassan and gave him the Cold River [Nahr al-Bard] code: “Remember Nahr al-Bard. The people’s blood in the Nahr al-Bard is screaming for revenge. These are our final orders. We and the world are watching you.” The execution took place on 9:06. (Reportedly, about half an hour later than planned because Abu-Tariq let the Americans write last letters and wills.) A few minutes later, when the international media still did not report the killing, Beirut wanted to make sure that the executions took place. Arafat himself did the talking to Abu-Ghassan. He asked him if he received the code word Nahr al-Bard and if he understood what it meant. Abu-Ghassan assured Arafat that he had understood everything and that his — Arafat’s — orders had already been carried out fully.

Cleo A. Noel, Jr. Scholarship:

The Cleo A. Noel, Jr. Scholarship was established by friends and family as a memorial to Cleo A. Noel, Jr., a graduate of Moberly Junior College who was assassinated in March, 1973 while serving as the United States Ambassador to the Sudan.


  • LC
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 08/06/1918
  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/02/1973
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 03/07/1973

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