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In the early 1970s, Force 17 emerged as an elite personal security squad in charge of protecting Yasir Arafat and other leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The group later branched out into terror attacks on Israel and was officially dissolved in 1994.

Theories explaining the group's name abound. It may be named for the address of its first headquarters at 17 Faqahani Street, or for the 17 Palestinians killed in the 1968 battle of Karameh, Jordan, that brought Arafat to the world's attention. The name may have been coined in an attempt to one-up the fearsome Lebanese Christian militia called Force 16, or in reference to the number of bows that a devout Muslim makes during daily prayers. Other theories say the name derives from the last two digits of the telephone number of its first commander, Ali Hassan Salameh, ...

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