Laying aside the Bomb Vest While Building a Clandestine War Machine
Deep concern over the Palestinian Hamas organization’s rich terrorist past – some 60 suicide bombings in five years – has distracted most observers from questioning the character of government the Hamas proposes to mete out to the Palestinian people. Consequently, no one in Washington, Jerusalem or any other world capital, has any plans ready to meet the new Palestine which is just around the corner. Saturday, Feb. 18, Hamas’s majority party will be sworn in by the newly-elected legislative council. In the days and weeks ahead, the terrorists will assume power. While sworn to destroy Israel, they are determined first of all to reshape the chaotic national entity they have inherited from Fatah.
How will the new entity look?
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Islamic and counter-terror sources inquired and discovered two fixed prospects:
1. For the first time in a century, the United States and the West will be face to face with a Muslim Brotherhood regime – one, moreover, headed by a branch with its own unique attributes.
Hamas is not like any other known terrorist group, such as al Qaeda or Hizballah. Its government will not resemble that of the radical Sunni Taliban ousted in Afghanistan.
It its highly hierarchical, organized and disciplined. Unlike other Palestinian terrorist organizations, Hamas has a clear order of priorities and is capable of building a layered program of action towards its ultimate objective. Its leaders will take all the time they need to get ready for the ultimate violent clash with Israel.
In the meantime, Hamas will go through the motions of hanging up its bomb vest for a while. But that is a mere tactic that will deny Israel any reason for attacks. In respect of the Zionists’ great military strength and US support, Hamas will bide its time until its war machine is ready. These preparations may take a generation or two until Hamas decision-makers feel certain of victory. Hamas’ foremost ideologue, the late Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, who was killed by Israeli rockets in 2004, set 2025 as the target year for this battle. But that date is no more sacred than any other, except as a pointer to Hamas’ long-term planning capability.
Until then, the terrorist organization will busy itself on two tracks:
A. The Open Track
Hamas plans to give the Palestinian people good government. Its ministers will strive to efficiently run the administration and services, end the current mayhem and supply the population’s needs for security, law and order, work, education, social welfare and medical care. As we reported in our last issue (DNW 241), no hefty budgets on the Western scale will be required. Hamas will govern on the cheap. Outlay will be slimmed down, but services allocated universally instead of preferentially to favored elites as in the days of the defeated Fatah. In the first stage, Hamas will not force Islamic restrictions down the people’s throats, such as the veil for women and a ban on the sale of alcohol in Ramallah’s night spots.
In day-to-day, meat-and-drink matters, Hamas will pragmatically maintain contacts with Americans and Israelis – and anybody else willing to contribute to government of a quality unheard-of by the Palestinians or almost any Arab or Muslim country. The new Palestinian rulers will therefore keep in with Washington, on the one hand, and Tehran on the other, allowing neither to dictate its goals. Hamas will preserve its independence of any outside power, unlike the Lebanese Hizballah which is inextricably tied to Iran.
However, at all times, Hamas will never forget that however rational and constructive its conduct, it is no more than a screen to disguise progress on the clandestine track to its overriding objective.
B. The Clandestine Track
All the radical Islamic organization’s actions will be programmed to lead to the ultimate war confrontation with the Jewish state it has sworn to displace. Even the spanking new, efficient Palestinian national entity will be covertly tailored to become the first modern fascist-Islamic state in history. Its be-all and end-all will be war.
Hamas’ master plan is already in motion. Its first action upon assuming office will be the takeover of Palestinian domestic security agencies – known as the Preventive Security Services – and the civilian police force.
Hamas leaders have already ordered the heads of its covert security service, the Rasad, to start rounding up hundreds of recruits in the Gaza Strip and West Bank and training them for operating at the national level, i.e. seizing control of the many existing Palestinian security bodies.
Stage two will entail taking control of the 20,000-strong Palestinian national security forces. Hamas activists have been ordered to enlist 10,000 men. Together with the 6,000 terrorist operatives of the Hamas’ Ezz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas will within a few short weeks have acquired a standing army almost the size of the national security force. Its number-crunchers reckon that the entire project will cost no more than $4 million.
Its third project is the resuscitation of the Popular Army project begun in 2004 to enlist every able-bodied man from 15 to 60 left out of the regular security frameworks or terrorist groups. They are required for home guard-type duties as guards and taught to use simple rifles and hand grenades.
A fourth military framework, the Youth Brigades, will be established in Palestinian schools. Participation for boys and girls alike will be compulsory. Over their years at school, they will be taught different military skills and set up companies for, say, infantry, navy, communications and the like.
To maintain control of this extensive war machine, the Hamas will take charge of all Palestinian media, radio, television and print press. Instead of seizing existing media, the new rulers will simply set up new ones to choke the veteran outlets out of business.
An important part of the Hamas blueprint is accretion of the northern and southern arms of the Israeli Arab Islamic movement. The addition of 1.3 million Israeli Arabs to the final war against Israel is deemed an essential element of victory.
The main impediment to Hamas’ plans is the Palestinian Authority’s chairman, Mahmoud Abbas who has now acquired presidential powers. As long as he leaves the new government alone, he will be allowed to live out the four years remaining of his tenure in peace. If he interferes with their plans, they will get rid of him one way or another.
The first six months of Hamas rule will determine whether Abbas as leader of the defeated Fatah accepts this quiescent role. If not, both Hamas and Fatah will gear up for an armed duel to determine who is to be top dog of the Palestinian people.