Arafat Commissioned Hit against Israeli Elite Unit
Last Saturday, October 18, the BBC ran an interview with Yasser Arafat, three days after an American diplomatic convoy was bombed and three CIA men killed in the Gaza Strip. The interviewer James Reynolds came away bewildered.
Starting off with what he called his “killer point,” – the Bush accusation against Arafat for getting in the way of peace – all he heard from Arafat was: “It’s a point of view.”
When the correspondent pressed him, he got angry. “You are speaking for the Americans?” he asked. “Do not forget you are speaking with Yasser Arafat!”
Another question: “You are the acknowledged leader of the Palestinians… was interrupted: “That is a problem for you?” Arafat asked. “You are against our constitution?”
This dodging round answers is described by Reynolds as the pattern for the next 20 minutes.
Finally, when asked about his health, Arafat is said to have kissed his hands and looked upwards. “He seemed very pleased with this silent answer,” said the BBC interviewer.
A senior Israeli intelligence source who analyzed the interview said to debkafile: “It won’t be long now before the next terrorist hit. That’s his way. He poses as an addled, feeble old man, who is past it. He makes histrionic gestures that look a bit demented. But it’s a performance which usually means something nasty is coming.”
Twenty-four hours later, four days after Palestinian bombers murdered three American security men in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian ambushers shot three Israeli members of the crack Duchifat unit on their nightly foot patrol at the Palestinian village of Ain Yabrud near Ofra in the Ramallah district of the West Bank. They were shot in the back. Before escaping the scene in a prepared getaway vehicle, the three Palestinian assailants went up to the injured soldiers, shot them dead and snatched their weapons. Minutes later, an Israeli force alerted by the gunfire arrived on the scene. Their attempts to resuscitate their comrades were unavailing. Equally fruitless was the air and ground manhunt for the terrorists who needed no more than a couple of minutes to drive away in the dark.
This Palestinian attack, like the one in the Gaza Strip, was characterized by precise intelligence and split-second timing that could only have been achieved by several weeks of advance surveillance of their victims’ routines.
debkafile‘s military and counter-terror sources were tipped off some days ago that Yasser Arafat had assigned Jemal Tirawi with the targeting of a crack Israeli military unit, offering him a tidy sum for the job. Jemal is the cousin of Col. Tawfiq Tirawi, Palestinian intelligence chief and founder of the Fatah-Tanzim’s al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. Arafat’s most able terror mastermind, he shelters in his boss’s private quarters in Ramallah with a group of some 30 wanted Palestinian terror executives.
Our Palestinian sources add that Arafat is not in the habit of giving out clear orders to subordinates. An inkling of his style of command was revealed in the BBC interview. He throws out fragmentary, often oblique clues to different aides, also naming sums of cash on offer for anyone willing to risk his neck by going out and hiring a killer squad for the next terrorist operation. The aides either put their heads together to find out what he is after or, more often, compete amongst each other for the mission and the pay. Arafat keeps his band of cronies in a constant state of rivalry for his favors, positions of influence in the Palestinian hierarchy and the cash he hands out now and again. Several members of this executive group may end up setting up the same operation separately, each hiring a terror squad. This tactic has created a reservoir of willing guns outside Ramallah who are spoiling for action.
While preparing the next hit, Arafat was also busy covering up the tracks of his last one, the US convoy ambush in the Gaza Strip. FBI investigators, encountering obstruction in their inquiry instead of the promised Palestinian cooperation, heard from various media that the attack was staged by the Arab Liberation Front, the Palestinian terrorist group supported by Saddam Hussein. The only problem is that, since the Iraqi ruler was deposed, the ALF no longer exists. However, this piece of fiction was leaked deliberately from Ramallah to highlight a link between Gaza and Baghdad. It signaled Arafat’s following that his coming objective was to elevate his terror campaign against Israel to the same pitch as the pro-Saddam guerrilla war against the Americans in Iraq.
A sick man, he sees this as the grand finish of his long career.
The highest-ranking Palestinian army-man, General Yousuf Nasser, is revealed by debkafile as having fled to Europe a few days ago to avoid any part of Arafat’s schemes and the storm of violence ahead. Arafat vetoed Ahmed Qureia’s decision to bring the general into his emergency government as interior minister responsible for a consolidated Palestinian security force.
In the secretive, intrigue-laden atmosphere pervading Palestinian government headquarters in Ramallah, no senior Palestinian dares question Arafat. Not surprisingly, Qureia has given up any plan to form a sustainable government.
Sunday, October 19, debkafile ran the following article that reveals the Syrian role in the anti-Israeli turbulence afoot.
Israel Calls up Five Reserve Battalions
Sunday, October 19, amid rising military tensions with Syria, five battalions of Israeli reservists took up positions in embattled areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
debkafile military sources report the reservists were mobilized on emergency call-up orders issued ten days ago after a deadly Palestinian suicide attack in which 21 Israelis were murdered at a Haifa restaurant. The extra forces were recruited to meet a potential surge of Palestinian violence emanating from Arafat’s declining health and approaching leadership crisis. Escalating terrorist attacks are widely predicted accompanied possibly by factional warfare.
This uncertainty is accompanied by heightened Syrian combativeness.
Saturday, October 18, senior Israeli government spokesman Maj.-Gen Amos Gilead accused the Assad regime of fueling the flames of Palestinian terror for the past two years. He warned Syria that its failure to heed the message conveyed by the Israeli air force raid of a Palestinian Jihad Islami site 15 km from Damascus the day after the Haifa attack would lead Jerusalem to review its options and take appropriate action.
The decision to warn the Syrians off yet again came from prime minister Ariel Sharon and defense minister Shaul Mofaz. It followed a fighting speech delivered by president Bashar Assad at the Islamic summit conference in Kuala Lumpur last week. Vowing he would not be deterred from backing Palestinian “freedom fighters”, he assured the conference that Syria and the Arabs would overcome Israel’s military might with brainpower.
General Gilead’s warning drew a swift response from Damascus. For the second time in a week, Syrian chief of staff Lt. Gen. Hassan Turkmeni ordered his troops to be on the highest alert and prepared for more Israeli military action.
debkafile‘s military sources interpret the war talk coming from the Syrian capital as indicating an imminent all-out effort to pump Syrian, Hizballah and al Qaeda combatants across the borders to scale up the level of Palestinians terrorist violence against Israeli targets. This step would mirror Damascus’s role in abetting the flow of pro-Saddam fighters into Iraq to fight US and allied forces.
The Assad regime’s overall objective, like that of Arafat, is to bring about a sharp downturn in security in Israel to parallel the situation in Iraq.