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Henri Curiel (September 13, 1914 - May 4, 1978) was a left-wing political activist. Born in Egypt, Curiel led the communist Democratic Movement for National Liberation until he was expelled from the country in 1950. Settling in France, Curiel aided the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale and other national liberation causes. In 1978 Curiel was assassinated in Paris; his killer has never been identified.

The grave of Henri Curiel at Père Lachaise





Born in Cairo to a Jewish family of Italian origins, he was the cousin of Eugenio Curiel, a physicist and anti-fascist militant who was murdered in Italy in 1945. His brother Raoul Curiel was a greatly admired archeologist and numismatist, specialized in Central Asian studies. His son is the French journalist Alain Gresh. Curiel was also a cousin of the famous British KGB spy George Blake, who later said that his encounter with Curiel as a teenager (when Curiel was older and already a Communist) shaped his political views.[1]

In 1943 Curiel founded the communist Egyptian Movement for National Liberation (HAMETU), which in 1947 became the Democratic Movement for National Liberation (HADETU). He was repeatedly arrested along with many other communists and, despite his Egyptian citizenship, forced to emigrate in 1950. He established himself in France and led a circle of Jewish communist emigres from Egypt known as the "Rome Group".

Anti-colonial activism

Henri Curiel worked for the Jeanson network which supported the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) during the Algerian War (1954-62). He was arrested by the French security services in 1960. Curiel was then one of the founders of "Solidarité", a support group for various anticolonial and opposition movements in the Third World (in particular Africa and Latin America), such as the African National Congress (ANC).

In 1976, Henri Curiel initiated contacts with Israeli and Palestinian representatives willing to negotiate a mutual recognition. Several meetings, later known as the "Paris talks", were organized [2]. Under chairmanship of Pierre Mendès-France, they included among others Issam Sartawi, adviser to Yasser Arafat, Uri Avnery [3] and Mattityahu Peled, members of the Israeli Council For Israeli-Palestinian Peace (ICIPP).

On June 21, 1976, Georges Suffert published in the French magazine Le Point an article presenting Curiel as the "head of the terrorist support network", connected with the KGB. He was put under house arrest in Digne, an administrative measure that was lifted once the charges were proved inexistent [4].

An American intelligence report from 1981 (a Special National Intelligence Estimate) states that Curiel's organization "has provided support to a wide variety of Third World leftist revolutionary organizations," including "false documents, financial aid, and safehaven before and after operations, as well as some illegal training in France in weapons and explosives." The authors further comment that his group's "association with non-Communist and nonviolent leaders, including clergymen, has tended to cloak the nature and extent of its operations."[5]


Henri Curiel was assassinated in Paris on May 4, 1978. A far-right group claimed responsibility, but the case is still unsolved. Speculations persist in three directions:

Henri Curiel is buried at Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris.


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1] Comit√© Palestine et Isra√ęl Vivront Archives
  3. ^ 'my friendship with Henri Curiel, a Jewish-Egyptian revolutionary who helped us in our contacts with the PLO'Uri Avnery, 'Two Americas,' Counterpunch 24 March 2008
  4. ^ a b Henri Curiel, citizen of the third world, Le Monde diplomatique, April 1998 (English)/(French)
  5. ^ Soviet Support for International Terrorism and Revolutionary Violence: Special National Intelligence Estimate (1981). p. 23. Available at
  6. ^ Lucien Aimé-Blanc, 2006
  7. ^ Alexandre Adler, 2006


  • Georges Suffert, Le patron des r√©seaux d'aide aux terroristes, Le Point, June 21, 1976
  • Roland Gaucher, Le R√©seau Curiel ou la subversion humanitaire, Jean Picollec, 1981
  • Jean-Marie Domenach, Trois ans apres: L'affaire Curiel. 1. La preuve ne doit pas apparaitre. Le Monde, 16 mai 1981. 2. Espion et terroriste, certes pas. Le Monde, 17-18 mai 1981.
  • Gilles Perrault, Un homme √† part, Bernard Barrault, 1984
  • Gilles Perrault, Henri Curiel, citizen of the third world. Le Monde Diplomatique online, English edition, 1998/04/13,
  • Alain Gresh, The PLO: The Struggle Within: Towards an Independent Palestine, London: Zed Books, 1985
  • Jacques Hassoun, La vie passionn√©e d'Henri Curiel, Revue d'√©tudes palestiniennes, 1998
  • Recherches Internationales, Crise et avenir de la solidarit√© internationale. Hommage √† Henri Curiel, n¬į 52-53, 1998
  • Charles Enderlin, Paix ou guerres. Les secrets des n√©gociations isra√©lo-arabes 1917-1995, Stock, Paris, 2004
  • Alexandre Adler at the AJOE Congress, March 6, 2006
  • Lucien Aim√©-Blanc, Jean-Michel Caradec'h, L'Indic et le Commissaire, Plon, 2006
  • Jonathan C. Randal, French Socialists Start Digging Into Overtones of Curiel Killing, International Herald Tribune, 24 August 1981

See also

External links


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