Mubarak Seeks Coexistence with Islamic Terrorists

Every few weeks, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak tells Israel it must resume negotiations with the Palestinians that will lead them to a state. But on Sunday, December 1, he went a lot further. Addressing a Muslim clerical group in Cairo at an occasion marking the final prayer of the Ramadan holy month, he declared that international terror is not religious; nor is it the fault of Muslims or Arabs, but their reaction to political injustices meted out by the “international community”.
The Egyptian leader thus became the first Arab leader to say out loud what every Arab and Muslim ruler believes – that Islamic terror, including suicide homicides, is a justified means of venting their sense of injustice towards the non-Muslim world.
Mubarak is not just talking. He is in the middle of political action, hauling out the Israeli-Palestinian issue and providing his auspices for a so-called attempt to draw Arafat’s Fatah and the fundamentalist Hamas into an accord for ceasing their campaign of murder inside Israel, the pre-requisite for renewed Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Under cover of this internationally lauded initiative, Mubarak has a quite different – if not opposite – agenda, as revealed in the latestDEBKA-Net-Weekly. To subscribe to DNW, clickHERE.
The terror-ridden Palestinian Gaza Strip shares a border with Egyptian northern Sinai. Although the border crossing is under Israeli security control by agreement, Palestinians move easily between the two territories through a warren of tunnels they have dug to smuggle people and arms and drugs back and forth. Palestinian extremist groups dominating the 140-sq mile Gaza Strip are therefore more than doubling the area of their enclave by gradually absorbing a 160-sq. m stretch of Egyptian Sinai that curves to the southwest along the Mediterranean and centers on the desert town of el Arish.
Last month, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s top strategists, his chief political adviser, Osama el-Baz, and General Omar Suleiman, the head of Egypt’s intelligence services, warned him that north Sinai’s creeping takeover by the radical Palestinian Muslims of the Gaza Strip posed an immediate threat to regime stability in Cairo.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terrorism sources, after accessing portions of that report, reveal the decision by Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat, whose control over Gaza and the West Bank is in a state of collapse, to hand the lead position in the confrontation with Israel over to his supposed rival – the fundamentalist Muslim terror group, Hamas.
Arafat took note of the group’s rising popularity in the increasingly radicalized Palestinian street – not for the local Hamas leaders – its wheelchair-bound founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and spokesman Abdelaziz al-Rantissi – but the real power behind the Gaza center – “external Hamas”, based in Damascus, headed by the implacable Khaled Mashal and Mussa Abu Marzook.
According to the intelligence briefing to Mubarak, the authority of the local Hamas leaders has been eroded by local “Irisa”, i.e. “salvation” committees run from Hamas-Damascus.
Similar salvation committees are strewn across the Muslim world, but only the Gaza Strip outfit has been given an international umbrella, a new Muslim organization calling itself Itlaf al Kheir – “the axis of good”. It is believed to be a pilot venture destined to be repeated at other Muslim terror centers as the Islamic fundamentalist answer to US President George W. Bush’s axis of evil.
The inventor of the “axis for good” concept is an old thorn in the Egyptian government’s side, Sheikh Yussef Quaradawi, the popular preacher who broadcasts his teachings around the Arab world in a regular 90-minute weekly Sunday spot on Al Jazeera satellite television’s “Sharia (Muslim ritual law) and Life”.
The studio in Doha is not 30 miles from the command center at al Udeid of US General Tommy Franks.
No link has been proven between Quaradawi and Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda. But the sheikh’s broadcast message to tens of millions of Muslim viewers is identical to the terror network’s fundamentalist teachings. “We are in a jihad (holy war) against the corrupt and secular West which is waging a new Crusade against Islam.”
Quaradawi has planted the salvation committee network and “axis of good” in the Gaza Strip and heads them both himself. He chose this territory as the first base for a coalition of the various Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups and a platform for propagating its violently anti-American, anti-West ideology around the Arab world. Bin Laden’s disciples are joining the coalition while, as the local Hamas, although Sheikh Yassin until now avoided anti-American gestures, emphasizing the local, Palestinian nature of his movement’s struggle as distinct from the worldwide jihad.
Leading Hamas lights who have joined the salvation committees include Palestinian Legislative Council member Mussa Mohammad Zubut, chairman of Muslim charity associations Ahmed Kurd, and Yassin’s financial adviser, Youssef Shanti. While previously empowered by the crumbling Palestinian Authority, they now derive their authority from the local salvation committees.
Arafat took the significant step of appointing his close associate Ikram Sabir, the Mufti of Jerusalem and senior cleric on Temple Mount, to the World Committee of the Axis of Good, to serve alongside Quaradawi.
He also named an Israeli Arab leader, Raed Salah, Israeli Arab fundamentalist leader, to the forum.
These two appointments effectively hand religious jurisdiction over Temple Mount, site of the Jewish Temples and sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, to the Axis of Good World Committee, together with pastoral authority over Israel’s Muslim Arab citizens.
The World Committee has symbolically set up offices in the al Mujanna Building, home of the Hamas headquarters in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas, with a nod from Arafat in Ramallah, has therefore pre-empted international efforts to find a moderate substitute for the PA chairman as a partner for peace negotiations by assembling a political-religious structure that is both anti-Israeli and anti-American, as a rallying point for the Palestinian struggle.
As for Mubarak’s motives in sponsoring the Fatah-Hamas talks, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources report them as being to monitor the Islamic fundamentalists’ advancing domination of the Gaza Strip with Arafat’s connivance and make sure it does not gallop out of his control.
The report he received from el-Baz and Suleiman pointed to the danger of the Gaza Strip, for the first time since 1948, breaking free of Egyptian influence and degenerating quickly into a fundamentalist Islamic enclave and a no-go zone for Egyptian security forces. This pocket would have a high potential for terrorist violence that could well spill over into Egypt’s mainly Palestinian-inhabited northern Sinai desert. Therefore, the Egyptians approached Hamas’s real power brokers in Damascus, Mashal and Marzook, with a deal not to derail the talks.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources say Egypt was prepared to allow Mashal to move Hamas headquarters from Damascus to Cairo, provided he endorsed a Hamas accord with Fatah. The overt part of the accord would cover a limited cessation of terror attacks against Israel. Its main content would permit the formation of a shared pro-Egyptian governing body in the Gaza Strip. Cairo was prepared to put the terrorist issue on a back burner for the sake of keeping the Gaza Strip in the Egyptian orbit.
Mashal, who two years ago would have jumped at any opportunity of moving to Cairo, turned Mubarak down flat. Since the rise of radical Islamic fundamentalism, he dare not risk bucking the dominant trend or coming to terms with moderates.
This trend is encouraged by certain European power groups, who figure that caging the radical terrorist forces in the Gaza Strip will canalize their violent energies at a safe distance from Europe’s Muslim minorities, instead of stirring them up. It is a fact, as discovered by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources, that a large chunk of the roughly $1.5 million spent by Quaradawi for his Gaza Strip operation comes not only from various Saudi charities but also from such countries as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and France.
Should the salvation committees take over as the dominant force in the Gaza Strip, Hamas will step into Arafat’s shoes as the Palestinian partner in the secret military alliances he signed with Iran and the Hizballah in mid-2000. Those deals assured Arafat, in advance of the Intifada he launched in September 2000, of an ample supply of weapons, money, explosives and terrorist experts to fight the Israelis from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian leader, sensing that his days are numbered, wants to make sure that his life’s work, his particular brand of terrorist war against Israel and its main future, the suicide weapon of terror, are passing into safe hands, while yet keeping his hand in from his isolated headquarters in Ramallah.
After the Hamas takes over in the Gaza Strip and joins forces with the Hizballah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a contiguous Mediterranean Sea route will open up to link the two terrorist enclaves – from the Gaza Strip to the areas of southern and central Lebanon controlled by the Shiite fundamentalist Hizballah. Mubarak, who knows he cannot tame the rampant movement, is determined to turn its fury aside and co-exist with it.

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