Updated December 10, 2003
The next Hamas suicide bomber can kill without strapping a bomb belt to his body. debkafile‘s counter-terror sources reveal the new type of explosive going into use after the collapse of the Cairo ceasefire talks as being much smaller and lighter while packing a much larger bang. It is compressed enough to be carried in a small bag or hidden in the killer’s clothes. A vest can be soaked in its liquefied form. Improved detonators and timers enable the bomber to start the countdown before he reaches target. By the time he is searched at the entrance to a mall or bus station, the bomb is on timer.
This week, after the breakdown of the Egyptian attempt to broker a Palestinian ceasefire, Hamas leaders issued instructions to the operational commands in Damascus and the Gaza strip to fully reactivate all terror units for a fresh offensive against Israel. They agreed to cooperate.
A senior Hamas operations commander in the Gaza Strip Abu Muhaheed forewarned Palestinian officials of this decision and told them of the extra-powerful, miniaturized explosive substance for use by Hamas suicide bombers.
Israeli security experts confirm the improved incendiary is far more powerful than the types used hitherto by Palestinian terrorists. It appears to be a new cocktail not previously encountered in the Palestinian terrorist offensive in Israel.
debkafile‘s Counter-terror sources add that the Hamas appears to have obtained the new explosive from the Hizballah together with the improved timers and detonators which enable the terrorist to activate the charge between ten and twenty minutes before he reaches the scene of attack. Even if he is caught on the way to target, there is no way the bomb can be disarmed. It will go off exactly at the preset time.
Israeli counter-terror chiefs have suspected that a new kind of composite bomb substance was about to go into use after two British Muslim suicide bombers attacked a Tel Aviv seafront bar at the end of last April. One fled, the other’s body was found with an unknown type of explosive.
On May 20,, the presumption was confirmed when the Israeli navy succeeded in capturing an Egyptian fishing boat, “Abu Hasan,” en route from Beirut to Gaza. On board was one of Hizballah’s expert bomb-makers, Hamad Amra. Found in his possession were 36 instructional video tapes demonstrating how to assemble explosive material and the different ways of incorporating them undetectably in fine undergarments or even outer wear to defeat the searches of bags.
Security experts assume that the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group transferred the experts and the know-how to the Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with the help of Syrian military intelligence.
Cairo Protocol: Palestinian Hard-liners Settle Oslo Scores with Abu Ala
Early Sunday, December 7, Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia – Abu Ala – flew in from Amman to an Egyptian military base south of Cairo, expecting the delegates of twelve Palestinian organizations and Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman, meeting there to have come up with an agreed ceasefire draft after three days of discussions. However, his arrival was the signal for crisis. The truce issue was forgotten and finally shelved as Palestinian delegates got down to settling old scores with one other – as debkafile now reveals in a detailed rundown of the meeting from its exclusive Palestinian sources.
Early Sunday, December 7, Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia – Abu Ala – flew in from Amman to an Egyptian military base south of Cairo, expecting the delegates of twelve Palestinian organizations and Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman, meeting there to have come up with an agreed ceasefire draft after three days of discussions.
However, his arrival was the signal for crisis. The truce issue was forgotten and finally shelved as Palestinian delegates got down to settling old scores with one other – as debkafile now reveals in a detailed rundown of the meeting from its exclusive Palestinian sources.
Qureia first confronted the gathering with a demand for a mandate for his government and the Fatah to engage Israel in negotiations. The Hamas delegate replied with a point-blank refusal. The Oslo Accords would not be repeated, he said. The Palestinian government would not be authorized to enter into such processes again. At that point, a general walkout was staged by the delegation leaders of Hamas, Jihad Islami, Ahmed Jibril’s Palestinian Front – General Command, the Popular Liberation Front and the Fatah’s suicide arm, al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, marking a decision to turn their backs on Abu Ala.
Without notifying chairman General Suleiman, the defectors cabled Yasser Arafat in Ramallah asking for his views on their proposition before they tabled it. They proposed offering a ceasefire on certain conditions. The first was an American-Israeli guarantee to release a group of high-profile prisoners: Ahmed Saadat, Popular Front leader, held with accomplices for masterminding in the murder of Israeli minister Zeevi and Ahmed Shubaki, who arranged financing for the Karin-A arms smuggling shipment. They are all serving time in Jericho jail under US-British custody.
Shortly before noon, Arafat replied: “I fully support your proposal.”
The Egyptian intelligence chief who saw both the message and the reply decided to keep the information from Abu Ala. Instead, he advised him to call an emergency meeting of delegation leaders.
Later, Suleiman confided to his advisers that the Cairo-Ramallah interchange was in fact pre-arranged and coded. The Palestinian hardliners used their message to secretly ask Arafat whether to torpedo Qureia and the truce conference. Arafat gave them the go-ahead.
Ignorant of the plot afoot, Abu Ala summoned delegation leaders to meet him in order to get down to the brass tacks of the ceasefire.
Suleiman opened the proceedings with a statement: I propose we adopt a comprehensive reciprocal ceasefire with the added proviso: If Israel does not provide guarantees specifying the types of operations to be called off against our people, the Palestinians will retain their right of reprisal.” The Egyptian broker explained Qureia required a year at least to attain any breakthrough. “But I must stress,” he said. “You are free people and can make your own decisions. I am merely offering advice.”
Abu Ala then took over: “I need space to move around. I can’t negotiate without the freedom to maneuver. But I promise you I will get some guarantee out of Sharon. Let me share a secret with you. Two days ago, (Friday, December 5), King Abdullah joined Bush in the White House. He told the American president he had put together a seven-point ceasefire plan as a corridor for implementation of the road map. I can tell you about some of those points: The first calls for lifting the Israeli siege over Yasser Arafat and restoring his freedom of movement. The second enforces a total halt on the construction of Israel’s separation barrier. The third provides for all Palestinian prisoners and detainees be set free, and the fourth requires Israel to move back in short stages to the September 28, 2000 lines it held prior to the intifada.
The Palestinian prime minister then turned to the gathering with an appeal: Is it worth our while to spoil Abdullah’s gambit with Bush?
debkafile‘s Palestinian sources comment here in an aside:
On Friday, secretary of state Colin Powell received the authors of the Geneva Accord. Scant media attention was paid to King Abdullah’s White House talks held at the same time. Our Washington sources reveal that the US president rejected Abdullah’s seven-point blueprint – a detail that Abu Ala withheld from his Palestinian audience.
After Abu Ala had finished, the Damascus-based Hamas leader Mussa Abu Marzouk rose to reply. “There is no way we can let you have the free hand you want,” he said. “Already the Palestinian authority does as it pleases. We are willing to discuss the terms you demand from Sharon, but for that there is no need to declare a ceasefire or any halt in our operations.”
The next speaker was Ziyad Nahla, deputy of Jihad Islami leader Ramadan Shalah. He said, “There is no trust between us and the Palestinian Authority. It is inconceivable for us to grant Abu Ala or the PA a mandate for signing agreements on our behalf. In the past year you signed a great many documents without consultation – not only with us, but even with the Fatah. You yourself, Abu Ala, signed the Oslo Accords without bringing them before PLO institutions. We won’t allow you to take us by surprise again.”
Nahla’s next words, according to debkafile‘s sources, were the bitter bombshell that brought the conference to collapse.
“After Oslo,” he declared, “You arrested, tortured and murdered our people and yet got nothing out of Israel. (Ed. He was referring to the wave of Hamas and Jihad Islami arrests Arafat ordered when their terrorists blew up buses in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in 1995 and 1996, killing scores of Israelis.) However on December 1, you sent more than 150 Palestinians to Geneva, including “General” Zohair Mansara, governor of Bethlehem. You let him stand on the platform with the Israeli ex-chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and call him comrade and (ideological) partner when that same Shahak calls us terrorists!”
The Jihad Islami leader’s words were greeted with utter silence. Finally, the Egyptian chairman brought the meeting to an end by saying: “I think it is time for dinner. You are all invited.”
Abu Ala with ashen face turned to Sueliman and said: “I will not join you for dinner. I’ll be going straight to the airport. I don’t have to put up with this humiliation.”
Updated December 10, 2003