Straight line links Bali, Moscow, Karkur, Ariel, Amman

The assassination early Monday October 28 of USAID staffer Lawrence Foley in Amman was carried out the day after a bomb belt carried by a Palestinian suicide killer murdered three Israeli officers and injured 19 Israelis just outside the town of Ariel on the West Bank.
Not only did the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat hold back his ritual condemnation of bloodshed on all sides, but his own Fatah group together with the Islamist Hamas claimed the killings. Israeli security authorities report that the murder-squad was made up of two suiciders and one was still at large in search of another target. Israeli investigators discovered that the squad was put together, armed and briefed for its mission by Mahmoud al-Elul, governor of the big West Bank Nablus district and a close crony of Yasser Arafat, after he received a hand-delivered message from Arafat’s headquarters.
debkafile‘s military sources add: The large-scale bombing atrocity in Bali, Indonesia, on October 15, in which 180 mostly Western victims were killed, prompted a strategic decision by Arafat not to let Osama bin Laden steal the world terror show. The Palestinian leader is not averse to cooperating with bin Laden’s operatives but refuses to play second fiddle to the Saudi-born terrorist on the world stage, and has resolved to cap every major hit by the international Islamic network with a multi-casualty Palestinian operation.
Six days after Bali, on Monday, October 21, a jeep loaded with explosives and driven by a Palestinian suicider torched an Israeli bus at Karkur Junction, creating a deadly inferno in which 14 trapped passengers were burned alive.
Some Israeli politicians, including members of the Sharon unity government, continue to advocate dialogue with the Palestinian leader. Some security circles also refuse to see the link between Bin Laden’s terrorist actions and those of Arafat – even though a complicated NATO-Israeli hunt is still on in the eastern Mediterranean for the missing Cristi, a cargo vessel aboard which a large group of al Qaeda terrorists is believed heading for Israeli shores to attack a strategic target.
More recent intelligence information reports boats packed with explosives lurking in hidden south Lebanese anchorages ready to crash into Israeli warships or commercial vessels in the eastern Mediterranean, mirroring the attack on the French Limburg tanker in Aden harbor on October 6. This would be an instance of a joint operation mounted by Arafat’s men and al Qaeda, some 200 of whose Afghanistan fugitives are hiding out in the Palestinian Ein Hilweh refugee camp opposite the Lebanese port town of Sidon.
Word of the Chechen hostage-taking siege of close to 800 spectators in a Moscow theater is reported by sources keeping track of Arafat’s government headquarters in Ramallah to have set off heavy traffic of comings and goings, galvanizing Arafat into a fresh spurt of terror. Israeli defense authorities fixed on Jenin as the designated launch base for that strike, and therefore sent the troops and tanks back to the West Bank town as a preventive measure two days after the IDF evacuated the town.
That military presence may account for the suicides in the Ariel operation of Sunday October 27 coming from Nablus, not Jenin.
The Ariel operation was designed as a mega-terror strike. Its target was a fleet of buses picking up scores of soldiers at the shopping center, hotel and gas station just outside Ariel. The death toll would have been horrendous were it not for the heroic action taken by the late Maj. Tamir Massad, who ran forward and held the terrorist down to stop him igniting his bomb. Shahar Keshet, who happened to stop by for petrol, hearing the shout: “I see an explosives belt”, ran up and shot the Palestinian in the head. At that moment the belt exploded killing the major and two other officers.
According to debkafile‘s military and counter-terror sources, Israel security authorities are beginning to suspect that Arafat may have got hold of the target list drawn up by al Qaeda and its affiliated groups around the world and is adjusting his own terror timeline accordingly. What they fear most is that the two groups will coordinate their campaigns of violence against Israel and bring them to a fresh, simultaneous climax.
The controversy dividing the Sharon government over funding for the Jewish communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continues amid the bloodshed and specter of more to come. It is hard to see how the ministers find time to handle the looming threat. The prime minister faces a walkout by his left-of-center Labor partner if the “settlement” allocation clause in the austerity budget is not slashed. Spending is already severely reduced by higher defense costs and falling tax revenues from Israel’s heavily recessed economy. Sharon promises any ministers voting against the state budget at its first reading Wednesday, October 30, will be deemed to have resigned.
If the prime minister gives way on the settlement allocations, he will have trouble with his own Likud, granting points to his rival former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Both Likud and Labor are talking about an early election, which Likud is confident of sweeping.
Defense minister Binyamin bin Eliezer is engaged in a battle to retain the Labor party’s primacy against his articulate left-wing rival Haim Ramon, who wants Labor to quit the unity government and bring it down. Ben Eliezer, boxed in between Sharon and Ramon, is fighting for time. He suggests postponing an early election to March or April next year, six months ahead of full-term.
Arafat is meanwhile skillfully exploiting the squabbles in Sharon’s government for fresh terror initiatives to prove how relevant he can be.
Twenty-four hours after the Ariel murders, Monday, October 28, a Palestinian assassin gunned down United States Aid Agency USAID official, Lawrence Foley, outside his home in Amman. debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report the murder was set up by one of the Palestinian terror cells operating in the Jordanian capital under Iraqi military intelligence controllers.
USAID has been entrusted with overseeing the democratic reform process of the Palestinian government, including the overhaul of its financing and security branches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Arafat boycotts USAID and uses Palestinian media to incite against the organization and discredit its activities.
The murder of Lawrence Foley is also a step in Arafat’s campaign to discredit Ben Eliezer. The defense minister has been bidding for support in his party’s left wing by pulling Israeli troops piecemeal out of Palestinian trouble centers and handing security over to Palestinian forces. These projects were labeled “Gaza Strip – first”, “Bethlehem – first” and now
“Hebron – first”. According to his plan, local Palestinians forces were to combine with such international aid agencies such as USAID to ease the local population’s economic distress and get health, jobs and education institutions running.
Arafat’s unaltered rationale for striking against USAID has not changed since he launched his Intifada in September 200: Easing the Palestinian population’s wretched lot would lower the level of his reservoir of suicides, many of whom act in a desperate bid to bring succor to their families – whether from Arafat’s coffers, Saudi Arabia or Iraq.
However, Arafat now harbors an additional short-term objective: By keeping up the level of terror and extending it to a USAID director based in Amman, Arafat hopes to show the defense minister up as a failure on two scores: He is incapable of either protecting Israeli lives or bringing his Palestinian pacification project to fruition. The fresh upsurge of Palestinian terror leaves him no choice but to intensify military action against the Palestinians, a policy that will put paid to his military withdrawal-for-peace on the ground plans and hopes of re-election as Labor party leader.
Ben Eliezer’s downfall is expected by Arafat to topple the Sharon government and force an early general election. That way, the coming US military offensive against Arafat’s friend, Saddam Hussein, will find America’s leading Middle East ally in deep disarray

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