THE FORGOTTEN TERRORIST - SIRHAN SIRHAN AND THE ASSASSINATION OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY BY MEL AYTON

 

A new edition of Mel Ayton’s 2007 book The Forgotten Terrorist – Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F Kennedy was published in  May 2019 by the University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books. The new edition includes a Foreword by Professor Alan Dershowitz.

 “The 1968 assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan may well be one of the most transforming events of the last third of the 20th century....Mel Ayton documents the elements that contributed to Sirhan’s hatred of anyone or anything associated positively with Israel or Jews....” Alan Dershowitz, in a Foreword to a Notable Trials Library edition of The Forgotten Terrorist. (CLICK ON BOOK PHOTO)

21 February 2018

"Mel, I have read your persuasive comments (in the new afterword to The Forgotten Terrorist). I am glad that you are still trying to debunk the RFK conspiracy mongers. Keep up the good work." Jamie Fuster, California Deputy Attorney General

 

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  Click on logo to read the 2015 California Court ruling rejecting Sirhan's plea of innocence

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Mel Ayton and Dan Moldea  Interview 30 May 2018

MEL AND DAN PETER BOYLES SHOW 2018Artist Name
00:00 / 58:48
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2019 ACOUSTICS RESEARCH

The following article appeared on the 51st anniversary of Robert Kennedy's assassination: “The RFK Assassination – Modern-day audio technology concludes Sirhan acted alone” 

The article describes how audio forensic expert Ed Primeau analyzed a digitized copy of the tape recording of the RFK assassination – (Note: nothing is lost when a recording is digitised)  He used a sophisticated computer program called iZotope RX, which isolated the sounds of gunshots from the cacophony of the crowd that night. 

Primeau’s work confirms the results of the research carried out by two teams of experts (UK acoustics experts Philip Harrison and Peter French  -  and US scientific/technical experts Steve Barber, Michael O'Dell and Chad Zimmerman) for my book The Forgotten Terrorist. Their work on the acoustics of the shooting has now been vindicated.

          Who Killed RFK? Sirhan Sirhan Did It

                                4 June 2018

It’s Good to See the Mainstream Media Debunking Conspiracy Claims, but Where Were They Years Ago When RFK’s Death Became Fodder for Nutty Stories? 17 September 2017

Rearview Mirror: Why did Sirhan Sirhan Kill RFK?  Interview with Mel Ayton

National Geographic Channel - CIA Secret Files 

In a 2011 biography of Sirhan, “The Forgotten Terrorist,” Mel Ayton maintains that the prosecution deliberately chose to ignore evidence proving that this was the first American encounter with Middle Eastern terrorism. To prove his point, Ayton presented evidence, forensic findings and even a notebook in which Sirhan wrote the sentence “RFK must die,” obsessively, thousands of times, proof of premeditation on the assassin’s part.

“(Mel Ayton is) one of the few analysts who has fully grasped (the RFK assassination’s) Middle East connection”. Stephen Kinzer, The Guardian. (CLICK ON GUARDIAN LOGO TO READ THE ARTICLE)

"To make matters worse for the conspiracy buffs, another new book does the same for the 1968 assassination of JFK's brother Robert Kennedy. In The Forgotten Terrorist, author Mel Ayton says the Palestinian gunman, Sirhan Sirhan, was motivated by the same political views as today's suicide bombers".

Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan By Tom Jackman

The Bobby Kennedy Assassination-Were 13 Shots Fired Or Only 8?

The assassination of Bobby Kennedy: Was Sirhan Sirhan hypnotized to be the fall guy? By Tom Jackman 4 June 2018 

RFK ASSASSINATION ARTICLES

The author with Senator Edward M. Kennedy - Senate Reception Room - 1989

The author with Senator Edward M. Kennedy - Senate Reception Room - 1994

Ted Kennedy's and Bobby Kennedy's Graves - Arlington National Cemetary May 2018

 I WENT TO SEE BOBBY AND FOUND  IT MOVING, SOMEHOW INADEQUATE BY RON ROSENBAUM  20 NOVEMBER 2006

“In fact, of course there was a deliberate motive for choosing R.F.K. as a target, regardless of how you interpret the Capote connection. But the mumbo-jumbo of mirror-gazing and ‘trance states’ and ‘amnesiac episodes’ has succeeded over the years in obscuring just how explicit that motive was.

I was reminded of this when reading over a review of R.F.K./ Sirhan conspiracy-theory literature by the U.K.’s Mel Ayton, a writer I’ve found to be a valuable debunker of unwarranted conspiracy theorizing.

He reminds us with copious quotations… how repeatedly and explicitly Sirhan made clear why he targeted R.F.K.: because Sirhan hated the state of Israel and hated R.F.K.’s support for Israel.

 

Ayton amasses a litany of Sirhan’s quotes to that effect. The most straightforward one Sirhan gave to a court-appointed psychiatrist: ‘He believed Robert Kennedy listened to the Jews and he saw the senator as having sold out to them.’ “

BOOK  REVIEWS  

 

"I am a recognized expert on the murder of Senator Kennedy, but I learned a great deal from The Forgotten Terrorist, especially about Sirhan's family background and his 'Palestinian nationalism.' The exquisite detail contained in this well-written, wonderfully researched work makes it a must-read for anyone studying this far from open-and-shut case."

Dan Moldea, author of The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy: An Investigation of Motive, Means and Opportunity. (Above - with Robert DeNiro)

"Mel Ayton presents a compelling examination of the convicted assassin's motivations, his state of mind, and the mountain of evidence used to denounce and imprison him. Students will find this an intriguing story to read, and in an advanced level of seminar devoted to analyzing the use of evidence, very instructive". 

The History Teacher, Vol 41, Issue 2.

 "Mel Ayton has accomplished something that no one writing about the RFK assassination has ever achieved before. By combining a judicious review of the forensic and eyewitness evidence with a firm grasp of the historical context, Ayton has finally made sense of the 1968 killing. The Forgotten Terrorist is a long overdue reminder that assassination is political murder."  

Max Holland, writer for The Nation and author of The Kennedy Assassination Tapes.

 "The Forgotten Terrorist is superlative, especially in regards to Sirhan's political obsessions and background. The greatest riddle in any of these high profile assassinations is motive. Thanks to Mel Ayton, the RFK killing can now be removed from that list of mysteries. I now recommend this book as the first and last book to read on the case." 

Gus Russo, author of The Outfit and Supermob.

"Ayton has produced a significant book with original and detailed information and analyses regarding Sirhan's life, motivation and psychology ..........those who despair of the country ever freeing itself from the debilitating morass of the conspiracy mindset should take heart. It is books like this splendid one from Mel Ayton that will hasten the day. (He) deserves a medal. It’s a pleasure to see (him) swatting down these empty claims (by conspiracy advocates).”

Patricia Lambert, author of False Witness: The Real Story of Jim Garrison’s Investigation and Oliver Stone’s Film JFK (M. Evans & Co, 2000)

“(Mel Ayton is) doing a fabulous job of setting history right”. 

David Aaronovitch, The Times, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/profile/David-Aaronovitch

 

 

AMAZON.COM REVIEWS
 

Top customer reviews

E. C. Mercado

5.0 out of 5 stars  

 Excellent Analysis of a Pivotal Event

April 5, 2015

Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase

This book is the Rosetta Stone of the terrible event of 5 June 1968 that put Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in the White House and changed the course of U.S. history for the next forty years. Sirhan Sirhan was not just a crazed 24-year-old Jordanian immigrant. He was in fact a radicalized Palestinian refugee with a clear political motive to attack the U.S. and its political institutions. As senator from New York, Robert Kennedy had acquired a large Jewish Democratic constituency. With the June 1967 Six-Day War fresh in the headlines, Kennedy's unfortunate pledge to arm Israel constituted a declaration of war against the Palestinian people. Coupled with his obsessively fatalistic determination to campaign for the presidency without an adequate security cordon, Kennedy's frenetic eighty-day campaign was destined to bring him into direct contact with the dangerous blow-back effect of unilateral U.S. support for Israel at the dawn of the new era of international political terrorism.

 

Margaret Desmarais

5.0 out of 5 stars

 "The Forgotten Terrorist" covers the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Full

February 6, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This book is another biography that dissects a person's life story and the path taken to an ultimate and horrific ending. Robert Kennedy paid with his life for his stance on the Middle East Crisis and his suport for the State of Israel. However, the fault lies not in Kennedy's politics but in the emotional and mental state of a person who was adversely affected by the crisis in the Middle East. This book gives us an opportunity to understand (and, therefore, to empathize) and to feel some compassion for all those who are still suffering in the midst of this crisis.

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February 1, 2015

Important book to read carefully

This is one of the most important books I believe in modern American History. If you want to understand the 'mind' of our enemies - Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Queda and yes, ISIS, you have to get this book and read it. To most Americans, there is a feeling of "lets move on", but for the Arab world there is a violent streak looking for "justice" even for things gone wrong centuries before. This cold blooded murder, robbed us of our destiny, and was the first shot in the Jihad.
Remember, PLO ARAFAT wanted to trade Sirhan for three captured American Diplomats from the Sudan. Nixon said no. And ARAFAT the the "moderate" PLO tortured and killed all three.

 

Patricia Lambert: Review of Mel Ayton's The Forgotten Terrorist: SirhanSirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (Potomac Books, May 2007)

Patricia Lambert is the author of False Witness: The Real Story of Jim Garrison’s Investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK and is currently working on a biography of Clay Shaw.

The title of this book, The Forgotten Terrorist, is an inspired one, not because the country has actually forgotten SirhanSirhan—the twenty-four-year-old Palestinian immigrant and Pasadena resident who gunned down Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968 on the night of his victory in California’s Democratic presidential primary—but because few (if any) ever considered Sirhan a terrorist.

Nevertheless, Mel Ayton, the author of this easy-to-read, information-packed study, draws on the work of various experts to make his case that Sirhan was a terrorist, the “unaffiliated” variety who acts on his own volition and is not part of any terrorist or extremist group. One expert predicts that “such loners will pose the greatest threat to the security of the United States.” (1)

Building on the earlier work of writers Robert Blair Kaiser and Dan Moldea, Ayton has produced a significant book with original and detailed information and analyses regarding Sirhan’s life, motivation and psychology (2), as well as the crime itself, which includes new forensic evidence published in three appendices. (3)

Ayton has cast a wide net with his narrative encompassing the origins of the subjects he addresses, whether it be the glittering past of the Ambassador Hotel, the dark roots of the “profound pathology” in the Arab world concerning the “glory” of death, the events leading up to the fateful partitioning of Palestine, or the source of the hate that permeated Sirhan’s psyche.

That depth of research gives the reader a sense of time and place and, especially where the Middle East is concerned, valuable insights, sometimes fascinating, almost always alarming. For in telling his story, Ayton has indirectly addressed the cultural divide separating the Arab and Western worlds. Born in the former, Sirhan, from the age of twelve, lived unhappily in the latter.

The Sirhans were a Christian Arab family, but Sirhan would abandon that faith and become “a very intense atheist.” To at least one high school friend he “expressed violent hatred for Israel”; in college he was remembered for his virulent Arab nationalism and hatred for Jews. “The goal of Palestinian nationalism,” Ayton notes, “according to pro-Palestinian academic Edward Said, ‘was based on driving all Israelis out.’ ” (4)

Robert Kennedy’s support for Israel dated from his stint as a journalist in 1948 when he traveled to the Middle East for the Boston Post to cover the Arab-Israeli war. That experience left him with an abiding admiration for the Israeli people and their leaders. He repeatedly voiced his support for Israel during his 1968 presidential campaign, though Sirhan apparently was unaware of that at first. But on May 27th a local Pasadena newspaper, avidly read by the Sirhan family, carried an article concerning the speech Kennedy had given the day before in Portland at a Jewish temple. The accompanying picture of Kennedy wearing a yarmulke carried the caption “Bobby Says Shalom.” A clipping of an earlier column from this same newspaper, regarding Kennedy’s alleged contradictory positions on Vietnam and Israel, was in Sirhan’s pocket the night of the shooting. (5)

“I did it for my country,” Sirhan said when he was arrested. “But America either didn’t listen,” Ayton writes, “or failed to understand. As Yitzak Rabin, Israel’s ambassador to the United States at the time said, ‘The American people were so dazed by what they perceived as a senseless act of a madman that they could not begin to fathom its political significance.’ ” Meanwhile, Sirhan’s murder of Robert Kennedy “was embraced, condoned, and applauded throughout the Arab world.” (6)

After reading this compelling, comprehensive work, the truth about this case seems obvious. SirhanSirhan, the product of what Ayton refers to as “the poisoned chalice” of Palestine, psychologically damaged by his childhood experiences in the Arab-Israeli conflict, indoctrinated in school at a young age in Arab-Palestinian nationalism and virulent anti-Semitism, emotionally arrested by an abusive family life, a not very “bright” student and failure at college, a failure at his desired vocation, unsuccessful with girls, hating the country that sheltered him, longing for self-esteem and seeking a sense of identity, embraced the “Arab-Palestinian cause,” identified by Ayton as the sine qua non of the assassination; by killing Robert Kennedy, Sirhan obliterated his own insignificance and became the “hero” he always wanted to be.(7) All that and more seems obvious.

Yet for many of Robert Kennedy’s supporters, like this writer, who were residing in Los Angeles and engaged in the political process, and experienced the events at the Ambassador in a visceral way, little of what we now know actually happened there seemed obvious at the time. What did seem obvious was the possibility that Sirhan was part of a larger domestic plot.

Conspiracy thinking had flourished nationwide during the previous two years when the first books and articles critical of the Warren Report’s conclusions were published. Those living in Los Angeles may have been especially vulnerable to conspiracy ideas since several first generation Warren Report critics resided there. Also, the shocking pronouncements from New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (that a conspiracy had taken President Kennedy’s life and he knew the identity of the real killers) were widely reported by the local media. Only seven months before the California primary, Garrison had visited the city and delivered one of the most astonishing speeches ever voiced by an elected government official, essentially suggesting that President Lyndon Johnson played a role in President Kennedy’s death. A verbatim transcript of his remarks was published in the alternative Los Angeles Free Press. (8)

 

Linking that pre-existing conspiracy mindset to Robert Kennedy’s shooting required but a small step. One commonly held theory was that Robert Kennedy was killed because he suspected a conspiracy had taken his brother’s life and, if elected president, was planning to reopen the investigation into President Kennedy’s assassination. Unfortunately, some still believe that theory, and a recent book has given it new life. (9)

But even if it were true, what Robert Kennedy suspected four decades ago is not necessarily what he would believe were he alive today. Had he survived, been elected president and reopened that investigation, the probability is high that he eventually would have reached the same conclusion the Warren Commission reached, just as many others who once were conspiracy advocates have done.

The Tipping Point is more than the title of a book; it is a genuine phenomenon. What appears impossible sometimes happens. The Berlin Wall came down. The Soviet Union dissolved the Communist Party. Communist China adopted capitalist ways.

So those who despair of the country ever freeing itself from the debilitating morass of the conspiracy mindset should take heart. It is books like this splendid one from Mel Ayton that will hasten the day.

Notes

1. The Forgotten Terrorist, pp. 228, 229.
2. See especially, Chapters 3, 10-12.
3. “Report on RFK’s Wounds by Ballistic Expert Larry Sturdivan,” refuting claims that the autopsy report proved a second gunman was involved,” pp.271-275; “Analysis of ‘The Pruszynski Tape’ by Acoustics Expert Philip Harrison,” that concludes only eight shots (matching the number of bullets Sirhan’s gun held) were fired during the shooting. (This is a “previously undisclosed audio recording of the shots fired in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel”), pp. 277-280; “Excerpts from SirhanSirhan’s Notebooks,” illustrating points the author discusses throughout the text, pp. 281-284.
4. The Forgotten Terrorist,” pp. 220 (atheist); 57 (“Israel”); 61 (“Jews”); 36 (“was based on”). Quoting Alan Dershowitz and a former State Department employee, Ayton suggests that the failure of the Arab world to assimilate the Palestinian refugees was deliberate, that the wretched conditions of the refugees “kept alive a very visible grievance” and served as a “smokescreen for the real Arab agenda: the elimination of Jews and the Jewish state,” pp. 35, 36.
5. Id., pp. 31, 40-42 (“Arab-Israeli war”), 46, (“Pasadena newspaper.”) Much has been made of Kennedy’s advocating the sale of fifty Phantom jets to Israel in a June 1st speech; Sirhan did learn of that from his mother who heard Kennedy’s address on the radio, but it seems less important than the local newspaper’s article and photograph.
6. Id., pp. 83 (“for my country”); 9 (“Yitzak Rabin”); 260 (“Arab world”).
7. Id., p. 259.
8. Garrison’s “pronouncements,” see Patricia Lambert, False Witness (New York: M. Evans & Co.) 1999, p. 58; “transcript”, The Los Angeles Free Press, November 17, 1967.
9. Writer David Talbot, author of Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, recently expressed part of that view on Chris Matthews’ MSNBC television program “Hardball.” “Bobby Kennedy thought that elements of his own government were involved in the assassination of his own brother,” Talbot said, “. . .That’s why Bobby Kennedy was determined to run for the presidency, so he could open up the investigation with the power of the White House.” “Hardball” transcript, May 29, 2007, p. 9.

Notes

1. Ibid., 228, 229.
2. See especially, Chapters 3, 10-12.
3. “Report on RFK’s Wounds by Ballistic Expert Larry Sturdivan,” refuting claims that the autopsy report proved a second gunman was involved,” pp.271-275; “Analysis of ‘The Pruszynski Tape’ by Acoustics Expert Philip Harrison,” that concludes only eight shots (matching the number of bullets Sirhan’s gun held) were fired during the shooting. (This is a “previously undisclosed audio recording of the shots fired in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel”), pp. 277-280; “Excerpts from SirhanSirhan’s Notebooks,” illustrating points the author discusses throughout the text, pp. 281-284.
4. The Forgotten Terrorist,” pp. 220 (atheist); 57 (“Israel”); 61 (“Jews”); 36 (“was based on”). Quoting Alan Dershowitz and a former State Department employee, Ayton suggests that the failure of the Arab world to assimilate the Palestinian refugees was deliberate, that the wretched conditions of the refugees “kept alive a very visible grievance” and served as a “smokescreen for the real Arab agenda: the elimination of Jews and the Jewish state,” pp. 35, 36.
5. Id., pp. 31, 40-42 (“Arab-Israeli war”), 46, (“Pasadena newspaper.”) Much has been made of Kennedy’s advocating the sale of fifty Phantom jets to Israel in a June 1st speech; Sirhan did learn of that from his mother who heard Kennedy’s address on the radio, but it seems less important than the local newspaper’s article and photograph.
6. Id., pp. 83 (“for my country”); 9 (“Yitzak Rabin”); 260 (“Arab world”).
7. Id., p. 259.
8. Garrison’s “pronouncements,” see Patricia Lambert, False Witness (New York: M. Evans & Co.) 1999, p. 58; “transcript”, The Los Angeles Free Press, November 17, 1967.
9. Writer David Talbot, author of Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, recently expressed part of that view on Chris Matthews’ MSNBC television program “Hardball.” “Bobby Kennedy thought that elements of his own government were involved in the assassination of his own brother,” Talbot said, “. . .That’s why Bobby Kennedy was determined to run for the presidency, so he could open up the investigation with the power of the White House.” “Hardball” transcript, May 29, 2007, p. 9.

Posted On: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 01:01

Dan Moldea's article about the 50th anniversary of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy