The British suicide terror team assigned to blow up the Tel Aviv beachfront cafe Mike’s Place near the US Embassy reached the Gaza Strip from Syria. This is revealed exclusively by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources. On the night of Wednesday, April 30, Asif Hanif blew himself up when the security guard pushed him out of the cafe killing three people and injuring 60. His partner, Omar Khan Sharif, ran off when his bomb belt failed to detonate and is the object of an intense manhunt.
Our preliminary investigation shows that both men left London about three weeks ago, taking a circuitous route through two European countries before flying to Damascus. Accomplices, apparently Hizballah members, drove the pair to Jordan but avoided Amman. They dropped off Hanif and Sharif at a small Jordanian town, where they took a taxi to the Allenby Bridge crossing into the West Bank and Israel. They crossed over on April 14 or 15, a day or two before the Passover Seder, and traveled to Jerusalem whence they took an Israeli taxi to the Erez crossing point from Israel into the northern Gaza Strip.
There, Hanif and Sharif lay low for about two weeks as guests of a Hamas cell that also numbers Hizballah operatives. In fact, they stayed the same length of time as a fellow Briton, the notorious shoe bomber Richard Reid who visited the Gaza Strip before going on a failed mission for al Qaeda to blow up an American Airlines plan flying from Paris to Miami in December 2001. The big question — whether Hizballah or Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda supplied the logistical support for the pair’s travels from Damascus to the Allenby Bridge — will probably be answered only after Sharif is caught.
Intensive efforts are also reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terrorism sources to identify the explosives contained in the bomb-belt that Sharif dropped as he fled.
Our experts reveal that the explosives are not a local product but of an unfamiliar composition never encountered in any previous suicide homicides in Israel. It is surmised that the belt was manufactured either in Lebanon or Syria by Al Qaeda or Hizballah bomb experts. The belts were either brought from Syria – no easy tasks to get through two border crossings – or assembled from explosive materials smuggled into the Gaza Strip through Egypt or by sea.
The two terrorists have been provisionally identified – Hanif as being of Pakistani extraction and Sharif of Jordanian or Lebanese origin. Our counter-terrorism sources report Israeli authorities have asked British intelligence whether the two terrorists are on their lists of Muslim extremists. If they were suspected of extremist activities in the UK, the British will be asked why they were allowed to travel abroad. If their departure was recorded, then British intelligence will have to explain why the intelligence agencies fighting Middle East terror were not given the alert.