Why Blame Jihad Islami for al Aqsa Brigades Terror?

By great good fortune, a Palestinian plot to blow up a large comprehensive school in the small town of Yokneam east of Haifa was foiled. Israeli intelligence was forewarned of the plot by a Palestinian terrorist picked up in an earlier raid. The entire region north of Tel Aviv abutting the West Bank was placed on the highest terror alert Wednesday, December 3, until the pair of would-be suicide bombers was found cowering in a mosque. The attack was meant to be spectacular. It was timed to show up the real value of any truce worked out by 13 Palestinian terrorist groups’ representatives who began their conference in Cairo Thursday, December 4, under Egyptian government aegis.
Pinning the blame on Jihad Islami was a form of cover-up to which Israeli officials also lent a hand. What was the point?
Israel has reduced its proactive campaign against Palestinian terror in recent weeks; no targeted assassinations of terrorist masterminds have been staged since October and most other operations are low profile. Above all, any intention of “removing” the terrorist command from its Ramallah headquarters, as once decided by the Sharon government, seems to have been scrapped. Instead, a highly-controversial security fence is under construction, a vain defensive device for keeping West Bank bombers from creeping in.
In Cairo meanwhile, debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report that Egypt and Yasser Arafat – through his proxy Ahmed Qureia – are working together to line Israel up with Hamas and Jihad Islami as equal dispensers of violence. To this end, a “new national Palestinian leadership” has been formed and undertaken to force Israel to call off its military operations against terrorists while the “new” leadership commits only to keeping Palestinian violence on “a low flame”.
In this way, for the sake of a halfhearted truce, all parties will be made to agree to skip Clause One of the Middle East “road map”, which requires a Palestinian commitment to halt terror and dismantle terrorist organizations. Leaving this aside, they will move on to the next clauses that call for the establishment of an interim Palestinian state. The Palestinians will thus be able to claim to have accepted the road map peace plan. Israeli military hands will meanwhile remain tied by a semi-mythical ceasefire – the usual Palestinian quid pro quo with very little quo.
An Israeli school massacre would count as “low-flame” violence according to this thinking.
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak did his best to sell this proposition to the US President George W. Bush when they conversed by telephone Tuesday, December 2, asking him to lean on Israel to accept it. Bush’s response is not known.
To help the formula go down more easily, the spotlight was falsely trained on the Jihad Islami on Wednesday – to draw attention from the real culprits. In fact, this small group’s command base in the West Bank is tiny – “less than the fingers on two hands”, as one senior Israeli intelligence source put it to debkafile. Often when Israeli media announce Jihad Islami responsibility for a given attack – especially when it emanates from the West Bank – it is news to them too and may give rise to conflicting or multiple claims of responsibility.
When the Jihad Islami’s leaders receive orders from Damascus or Tehran – by encrypted signal, couriers or travelers to the Persian Gulf – to mount a terrorist operation against an Israeli target, they usually call on the suicide terrorist arm of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, for hired help, which is provided on his direct authority or that of his senior minion in the field.
The broad Jenin terror infrastructure ascribed by most of the media to Jihad Islami belongs in fact to the Brigades and is run by Hussein al-Sheikh, the man Arafat appointed to command the networks of the Palestinian West Bank “terror triangle” that ranges from Jenin to Nablus, Tulkarm and the villages around them. Most of their many dozens of operatives are officers of official Palestinian authority security forces, from which they draw their wages – whether they wear regular uniforms or sport Islamist headbands.
The men rounded up in the recent Jenin raid and the pair of suicides who were caught on their way to the Yokneam school and Beit Shean were in fact officers of the Palestinian General Security service which, like all Palestinian security forces, is controlled solely by Yasser Arafat.
When on Sunday, November 30, a combined IDF-Shin Beit-Police force raided Ramallah, they made a beeline for the private home of Hussein al-Sheikh hoping to find the secret lists of the terrorist operatives employed in his networks, the identities of their paymasters and the operations for which they were paid.
They found nothing useful. However the failed Yokneam attack may bring better results if names and addresses can be extracted from the two Palestinians in custody.
There is no way of mopping up every single would-be suicide or gunman in Arafat’s Terror Triangle. In any case, the Palestinian terror command structure at Ramallah headquarters remains free to issue its deadly orders, while funds, weapons, war materials and the occasional Hizballah fighter nourish that command along routes maintained by Syrian military intelligence through the southern Golan Heights, Wadi Kharamiya and on to West Bank towns. Cash transfers are often made through ordinary bank channels.

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