A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending October 1, 2004:

Zarqawi’s Palestinian No. 2 Dies in US Targeted Assassination


25 September: On Thursday, September 23, US forces resorted to targeted assassination to dispose of Abu Anas al-Shami, a senior aide of the Jordanian al Qaeda mastermind, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in Baghdad. His real identity, we reveal here, was Omar Yusef Juma’a, a Palestinian terrorist operations expert from the West Bank town of Tulkarm. debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report that al-Shami was killed by an American missile in Baghdad’s Shiite slum district, Sadr City. Locating and killing a high-profile member of Zarqawi’s organization a few days after the capture of another top Zarqawi aide, known as Omar Baziyani (an alias), was a considerable American feat in one of the undercover operations that go on behind the well-publicized US air strikes.

A traditional Muslim “mourners’ tent” sprang up in the Haj Hassan district of the Jordanian capital, Amman, honoring the dead terrorist as a “shahid” a martyr. The West Bank Palestinian in fact reached the highest rank a Palestinian has ever attained in al Qaeda’s operational hierarchy.

debkafile‘s sources reveal that Juma’a was behind the abortive chemical weapons plot against Jordan that was thwarted last April and first exposed on this site on April 21, 2004.

Two months ago, he was assigned the sensitive mission of implanting a major al Qaeda team in the Shiite Sadr City of Baghdad. Zarqawi calculated that by quickly filling the vacuum left by the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s defeat in Najef, al Qaeda would draw in Mehdi Army militiamen deprived of their leader and establish a formidable anti-US anti-government presence in the Iraqi capital. By killing the Palestinian terrorist mastermind, the Americans stymied this plan.


Sharon Strikes Blow for His Disengagement Plan in Damascus


26 September: Israel’s first targeted assassination in Damascus was motivated as much by the need to respond to new regional initiatives as to the stepped up Palestinian terror war which Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has vowed to fight “wherever they are.” The explosives planted in the car that blew up senior Hamas operations chief Ezz-Eldin Sheikh al-Khalil in the Damascus suburb of al Zahraa Sunday, September 26, betokens three developments:

  1. They refute the claim made only last week by Syrian president Bashar Assad to have closed down Hamas and Jihad Islamic command offices in Damascus.

  2. Israel has signaled that its campaign to quell the terror campaign will not be confined to the Gaza Strip and West Bank and could spill over to Arab capitals like Damascus and even Iran. The hit also signifies that Sharon is turning to military action to guarantee the fate of his disengagement plan.

  3. Sharon also signaled the forces combating global terror that Syria is vulnerable – both as sponsor of anti-Israel terror and logistical base for Iraqi insurgency.

President Hosni Mubarak may sound as though he is playing a helpful role to further disengagement; in fact he is working hard to promote Assad’s unpublished proposal presented when the Egyptian ruler visited Damascus on September 15 to seek Syrian support for a 12-month Palestinian-Israel ceasefire, applying also to the Damascus- and Beirut-based Hamas, Jihad Islami and Popular Front. That was the first Mubarak heard of a Syrian plan, which Sharon had not known about either.

For the Israeli prime minister the discovery of the Egyptian-Syrian ploy with regard to Washington made him face up to the possibility of a notice from the US administration that the evacuation of Gush Katif was only the prelude to a demand to hand over of the Golan to Syria. Sharon and his military strategists decided that it was up to Israel to make the next move on the Middle East game board to outmaneuver the opposition.

Like Sharon, Arafat has no intention of hanging about for Assad or Mubarak – and above all Sharon – to push him around on a game board. He therefore resorted to the weapon always at the ready at his side and ordered his people and Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to unleash their projected military campaign to defeat Sharon’s unilateral disengagement without delay.


Qassams Confound Israeli Army


30 September: The Palestinian missile attack that killed two Israeli infants in Sderot coincided with the fourth anniversary of the start of the Israeli-Palestinian war. Forty-eight months into the so-called Palestinian uprising, an Israeli town was hit by 11 primitive missiles in four days and two small children murdered.

All the signs point to the fact that neither the Israeli army nor the Sharon government has a clue on how to defeat the homemade Qassam.

The Palestinians have achieved four additional gains.

  1. Arafat is using the Gaza Strip as a launching pad for transforming his four-year old campaign of suicidal terror into a full-scale war.

  2. By constantly rocketing Sderot and other Israeli communities, the Palestinians are signaling their readiness to move onto their next objective after defeating disengagement: the battle for the Negev.

  3. Their primitive missiles are working as well as the 1948 War’s Davidka to terrorize Sderot. Many of the town’s shock victims say they are packing their bags and moving out.

  4. The Palestinian Qassam blitz owes its success to Israel's failure to shut down the network of weapons smuggling tunnels crisscrossing the Gaza-Egypt border.

Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz promised but failed to produce new tactics for fighting the Qassam. He has thrown his wholehearted support behind Sharon’s objectives, refusing to heed the warnings coming from his chief of staff – “We must face up to the facts as they are and not ignore reality” — and head of military intelligence – “Terrorism will escalate on the West Bank after the Gaza pullout”.

If the prognosis of military intelligence chief Maj.-Gen Yaakov Zeevi comes true, Qassam missiles are destined to slam into Israeli cities within range of the West Bank, Afula, Hadera, Kfar Saba and Raanana.

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