Washington Engages Three Masters of Terror

How should Osama bin Laden, Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein interpret the latest American moves in relation to Iran and the war on terror?
debkafile offers some answers from its counter-terror analysts and Palestinian sources:
Yasser Arafat.After a period of extreme trepidation over Saddam’s downfall and the appointment of Mahmud Abbas as prime minister – and even more over Mohamed Dahlan taking charge of internal security – Arafat is now rubbing his hands with glee. The rulers of Tehran are clearly getting away with loosing al Qaeda on American and Saudi targets in Saudi Arabia, so what has he to fear from continuing his terror campaign against Israel?
His rivals are doing a fine job on promoting the Iranian recipe. With no surcease in Palestinian terror, the two senior Palestinians will be awarded red carpet treatment by the United State President, the Saudi Crown Prince and other Arab rulers, as well sweeping goodwill gestures from the Sharon government. They have ceded nothing excepting a vague promise of a limited ceasefire some time in the future. When Abu Mazen and Dahlan smile and talk peace in Aqaba and Sharm al-Sheikh, Arafat will be free to organize a fitting reception for the American-Israeli counter-terror campaign when it is launched by the reformed Palestinian security force under the Abbas-Dahlan command.
That ritual is as familiar to him as it is to every Israeli – and it always ends the same way.
For six years in the aftermath of the Oslo Accords aftermath – 1994 to 2,000 – the American CIA trained and instructed thousands of Palestinian combatants, including Dahlan’s men (in his previous capacity as head of Preventive Palestinian Security in the Gaza Strip), in counter-terror techniques for practice in open and built-up areas. While these CIA experts worked closely on the ground with the new Palestinian force, Arafat succeeded in stealing away most of its members from under their noses – including Dahlan himself – to create the parallel terror force which he launched when he proclaimed his armed confrontation against Israel on September 2001.
Arafat’s private terror army, spearheaded by the Fatah-Tanzim and the al Aqsa Martyrs (Suicides) Brigades, shattered the CIA project from within. Armed with upgraded know-how, it became the hard core of Palestinian terror, remaining so to this day.
Now, in pursuance of the Middle East road map, the Americans and Israelis have embarked on a third metamorphosis: to re-convert the same armed Palestinians – semi-turned once by the CIA from terrorists into anti-terror enforcement officers and then back by Arafat into terrorists. They are paying thousands of these would-be suicide bombers to fight suicide terrorism – a process analogous to a CIA retraining course for the conversion of al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan into a committed anti-Taliban fighting force.
The new re-re-conversion program is already afoot in the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Palestinian terrorists, including a substantial number of Hamas and Jihad Islami bombers and gunmen, have begun drawing monthly wages, spanking new uniforms, weapons, training, health care and bases built over the bombed-out ruins left by Israeli counter-terror raids. The CIA instructors will also impart the advanced counter-terror techniques they acquired in Afghanistan and the global war on terror to the “new” generation of terrorist-fighters-terrorists.
Best of all for Arafat, his devotees will have won a badly-needed respite from the heat of Israeli searches and pinpointed liquidations. No wonder he is rejoicing. Another intake of fresh terrorists is about to drop in his lap, the perfect fifth column and, for good measure, it is paid for by the Israeli taxpayer and Uncle Sam.
Even the names have not changed. Muhamad Dahlan, Jibril Rajoub, Nasser Yussuf – all men bought and sold by Arafat – have been reinvented yet again as counter-terror fighters (sic).
Osama bin Laden.It is now common knowledge that the al Qaeda leader and his partner, Egyptian Jihad Islami leader Dr. Ayman Zuwahri, are alive and fully operational (as debkafile reported persistently in the last year.) Looking around them at America’s management of the Iran crisis and the perennial Arafat threat, they must conclude that they can carry on striking at American targets in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East without being too concerned. Their terrorist cohorts are shielded by Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the Hizballah. When necessary, they are whisked out of potential danger to remote arenas, where they can continue terror operations against fresh targets. Even if their protectors give their commanders up to the Americans, the main body of al Qaeda will remain operational and their loss will be written off as the casualties of a long-term jihad.
Iran’s transfer of al Qaeda units to Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge for the infiltration of Chechnya may look from Washington like a concession by Tehran to help consolidate the Bush administration’s future plans for Iraq and the Persian Gulf. To bin Laden, it is a first-rate tactical achievement. After his deadly assault on Riyadh last month, his men were not hunted down but moved to Eastern Europe from which vantage point they are free to move swiftly between such flashpoints as Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania and Chechnya. Well supplied with weapons and cash, it is only a hop and a jump for them to central and West Europe, thence onto North America.
Saddam Hussein and Sons. No one is mentioning them much these days and speculation on their whereabouts has died down. debkafile reports exclusively from its intelligence sources that Saddam Hussein and Qusay have wound up in Libya at a location north of Tripoli, while Uday Hussein has made his home base in the Belarussian capital of Minsk, from which he makes trips to the Middle East and Africa.
Recent reports that Uday is negotiating surrender terms with the Americans from a hideout in Iraq are designed to lure him into giving himself up.
Saddam’s presence in Libya is significant in two ways:
1. The deposed Iraqi ruler is busy. From a safe distance, he is orchestrating almost daily clashes between US forces and Baathists in different parts of Iraq – and they are costing the lives of American troops. He too is encouraged by the ongoing Washington-Tehran diplomatic track and sees how it can work to his advantage. The deal over Iraq’s Shiites, 55 percent of the population, will intensify the community’s innate xenophobia. They may be coreligionists of the rulers of Tehran, but Iraqi Shiites are averse to foreign rule, be it Iranian or American, and aspire to the same model of self-government gained by the Kurds of northern Iraq. This objective does not figure in either the US or the Iranian game plan, so when the American forces announced last week that Kurdish tribal militias would be permitted to keep their weapons, but not the Shiites, they sowed the seeds of future civil discord in Iraq.
Saddam’s hopes rest on the prospects of igniting a civil war among Iraq’s Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis and the smaller ethnic minorities. He has concluded that America does not have enough troops in Iraq to put down any major internal flare-up.
2. The exiled Iraqi ruler pays the wages of 400 Iraqi scientists to stay in Libya and work in the Libyan-Egyptian nuclear industry and their development of chemical and biological weapons.
That menace embodied in that fact hardly needs spelling out.
Like all three of these parties, Washington is not above playing a double or triple game; it is familiar with the rules and is aware of the dangers of falling from this high trapeze without a safety net. However, by playing this high-risk game with terrorists, as though they are all on a level playing field, the Americans are awarding extra points to Arafat, bin Laden and Saddam, the last players to fight according to any rules of fair play.

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