Abdullah ibn Husein Biography
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King Abdullah I of Jordan (1882 - July 20, 1951), known as Abdullah
bin Husayn, was, successively, Emir of Trans-Jordan (1921-1946)
under a British Mandate, then King of Transjordan (May 25, 1946
- 1949), and finally King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (1949-1951).
The son of the Hashemite Husayn ibn Ali, Abdullah fought as a
pro-British partisan in World War I, and received Trans-Jordan
as a fief under British protection in 1921. He embarked on negotiations
with the British to gain independence, resulting in the announcement
of the Emirate of Trans-Jordan’s independence on May 25, 1923.
This date is Jordan’s official independence day. His brother Faisal
became King of Iraq.
Prime Ministers under Abdullah formed 18 governments during the
23 years of the Emirate.
Abdullah, alone among the Arab leaders of his generation, was
a moderate with a modestly pro-Western outlook. He would actually
have signed a separate peace agreement with Israel, but for the
Arab League's militant opposition. Because of his dream for a
Greater Syria comprising Jordan, Syria, and Iraq under a Hashemite
dynasty, many Arab countries distrusted Abdullah, and the rivals
of the Hashemites, the Saudis most of all.
On July 20, 1951, Abdullah died at the hands of an assassin in
Jerusalem. Four days before, July 16, Riad Bey al-Solh, the Prime
Minister of Lebanon, had been assassinated in Amman, where rumors
were circulating that Lebanon and Jordan were discussing a joint
separate peace with Israel. The assassin passed through apparently
heavy security. Abdullah was in Jerusalem to give a eulogy at
the funeral and was shot while attending Friday prayers at the
Dome of the Rock in the company of his grandson, Prince Hussein.
The Palestinian gunman, motivated by fears that the old king would
make a separate peace with Israel, fired three fatal bullets into
the King's head and chest. Abdullah's grandson, Prince Hussein
Ibn Talal was at his side and grappled with the assailant until
he was shot himself. A medal that had been pinned to Hussein's
chest at his grandfather's insistence deflected the bullet and
saved his life.
The assassin was a Jerusalem tailor, and a member of the Arab
Dynamite Squad involved in Arab-Jewish fighting. Ten conspirators
were accused of plotting the assassination and were brought to
trial in Amman. The prosecution named Colonel Abdullah Tell, ex-Military
Governor of Jerusalem, and Dr. Musa Abdullah Husseini as the chief
plotters of "the most dastardly crime Jordan ever witnessed".
The Jordanian prosecutor asserted that Col. Tell had given instructions
that the killer, made to act alone, be slain at once thereafter
to shield the instigators of the crime. Tell and Husseini fled
to protection in Egypt and four local co-conspirators were sentenced
to death in Amman. Jerusalem sources added that Col. Tell had
been in close contact with the former "Grand Mufti of Jerusalem",
Amin al-Husayni, and his adherents in Arab Palestine.
Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal; however, since Talal
was mentally handicapped, Talal's son – the aforementioned Prince
Hussein – became the effective ruler as King Hussein at the age
of seventeen. Hussein was in turn succeeded by his half-British
son, King Abdullah II.
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