Washington Is Not Taken In by Palestinian Show Trial

US ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer sharply criticized the Palestinians trial that opened in the Gaza Strip Saturday, February 7, of four men accused of murdering three CIA agents in a roadside bombing last October. He said the trial before a military court should not be held behind closed doors, Washington should have been told in advance and the charge sheet should be tougher – not merely manslaughter but first degree murder.
The four accused are Naeem Deeb Abu Fool, Basheer Abu Laban, Mohammed, Dosouki Asaliyye and Ahmed Abdel Fattah Safi. Their trial was adjourned until February 29.
Since the attack, US officials have been ordered to stop traveling to the Gaza Strip, which has seriously affected aid work. Last week, after accusing the Palestinian Authority of failing to track the killers and hand them over, the US embassy in Tel Aviv offered a $5 m reward for information leading to their apprehension. Jibril Rajoub, a senior adviser to Yasser Arafat, accused Washington of subjecting the Palestinians to blackmail over the affair.
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report that two of the suspects were arrested on the day the US convoy was blown up on October 15 last year; the second pair were picked up on December 20. Their arrest was ordered by Muhammed al Hindi, chief of the Palestinian general intelligence service on the Gaza Strip. Their trial hurriedly staged in the face of increasingly angry demands from Washington for their handover.
The four suspects clearly appeared confused and terrified in court. debkafile‘s sources report that this is not surprising since in actual fact none of the four were involved in the murder of the three American agents. They were not even accused of the crime. The charge sheet describes them as planting roadside bombs on a main highway leading into the Gaza Strip from the Erez crossing point with Israel, the route followed by the American convoy.
The Americans watching the case know the four have been set up. Laying roadside bombs is what they do normally, but the bombing of the American convoy was not the work of these small fry. Neither are they members of any Palestinian security force, which means that a military tribunal was not competent to try them.
The real perpetrators of the attack, as we reported last October 18, were Yasser Zannoon and Mohammad al-Baba, chiefs of the Khan Younes militia in the southern Gaza Strip which is run jointly by Jemal Sema Dana, head of the Popular Resistance Committees, and Rashid Abu Shbak, acting head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip.
Although in an advanced state of disintegration, the Palestinian Authority is still not prepared to raise a finger to fight terror. Faced with a secret cutoff of American aid to Palestinian institutions as long as the real killers are not handed over, the PA is nonetheless willing to go the lengths of staging a mock trial with fake suspects in order to protect the real murderers of the three CIA agents.

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