Jordanian prime minister Faisal al-Faeez and Interior Minister Samir Habashna called on Syrian president Bashar Assad in Damascus Sunday, August 22, to hear his reply to King Abdullah‘s demand to stop sending trucks laden with explosives and carrying al Qaeda and Hizballah terrorists across the border for attacks in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Just before they left for the Syrian capital, the Jordanian monarch ordered his military intelligence to leak a news item to the important Kuwait newspaper Al-Rai al-Am. It said Saddam Hussein‘s intelligence chief, general Taher Jalil Habbush was living in Damascus under Assad’s protection.
It was Habbush who back in August 2002 showed the world media photographs of the Abu Nidal lying on the floor covered in blood as proof that the international terrorist had shot himself and not been murdered in Iraq.
Jordanian intelligence sources told the newspaper that Habbush was engaged in an effort to have the Iraqi Baath party, leader of the guerrilla war against US troops in Iraq, and its entire political and military leadership placed under Syria’s wing. Two members of the Baath party’s pan-Arab leadership, Qassam Salam, a Yemeni, and Moman al-Homsi, a Jordanian, are working with Habbush in Damascus.
Our sources report Jordan leaked the information to signal to Assad just how much dirt his intelligence services could dish if the Syrian leader spurned Abdullah’s demands. The message was clear: defy the king and Jordan will make sure the world press receives a full roster of the Iraqi ex-officials and al Qaeda operatives sheltering under Assad’s protection in Damascus.
Faeez handed Assad a list of demands: Stop the terrorist infiltrations across the Syrian-Jordanian border, set up a joint committee with Jordan to keep the frontier sealed and let local Syrian and Jordanian officers work together to patrol the border district, on the model of Jordanian-Israeli collaboration to keep their common border safe.
Assad’s answer was brief and to the point: “No.”
It is now up to Abdullah to decide whether to make good on his threats. Should he go ahead and release names, it will be interesting to see whether they include Iraqi intelligence officials linked to weapons of mass destruction that were transferred to Syria by al Qaeda operatives based in Damascus.
Egyptian opposition figures are scrambling for position ahead of President Hosni Mubarak‘s handover of power to his son, Jamal (Jimmy) Mubarak.
Last week, we reported in DEBKA-Net-Weekly 170, of a rapprochement between the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and the leftist Nasserites (Where Muslim and Leftist Extremists Join Hands Against Regime). This week, our sources find the Muslim Brotherhood leaning even further backward by starting a dialogue with the Egyptian Communist Party.
The Brotherhood harbors no illusions that climbing into bed with Nasserites or Communists will place it in position to overcome the ruling party and Mubarak’s many supporters. Its leaders only hope to win some respect from the new Egyptian leadership as a political power to be reckoned with.
Our sources have learned that Mubarak has ordered his supporters to turn down an offer by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the terrorist group that spawned Osama bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to disarm and enter mainstream politics. The group proposed submitting to supervision by Egypt’s security and intelligence for a trial period to demonstrate its total renunciation of terrorism.
Mubarak remained unconvinced. The last thing he and his heir apparent wish to see is a legitimized extremist Islamic Jihad on Egypt’s political scene boosting the ranks of a new radical front.