Zarqawi’s Palestinian No. 2 Dies in US Targeted Assassination

On Thursday, September 23, US forces resorted to targeted assassination to dispose of Abu Anas al-Shami, a senior aide of the Jordanian al Qaeda mastermind, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in Baghdad.
His real identity, we reveal here, was Omar Yusef Juma’a, a Palestinian terrorist operations expert from the West Bank town of Tulkarm. debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report that al-Shami was killed by an American missile in Baghdad’s Shiite slum district, Sadr City. However, the American military in Iraq is more sparing than Israeli forces with the specifics of a targeted assassination, and it is not clear if the missile was fired from a helicopter, a drone or one of the US special force units which patrol and mount ambushes in Baghdad, Fallujah and other insurgent hotbed towns.
No one knows exactly how many lieutenants Zarqawi has, probably 4 or five. But locating and killing a high-profile member of Zarqawi’s organization a few days after the capture of another top Zarqawi aide, known as Omar Baziyani (an alias), is a considerable American feat in its relentless offensive against the group behind the deadly suicide bombings and hostage-taking atrocities afflicting Iraq. These operations go on clandestinely behind the well-publicized US air strikes.
The news of Abu Anas’s death rippled quickly across at least two borders. A traditional Muslim “mourners’ tent” sprang up in the Haj Hassan district of the Jordanian capital, Amman. According to our Jordanian sources, candy was handed out to all comers, a custom borrowed from the ritual for Palestinian suicide killers who die in attacks on Israel and are honored as “martyrs.”
However on the Western Bank of the Jordan, debkafile‘s Palestinian sources report, Yasser Arafat ordered Juma’a’s kinfolk in Tulkarm to refrain from setting up a mourners’ tent lest the true identity of a top al Qaeda operative be blown and his Palestinian movement implicated.
The West Bank Palestinian in fact reached the highest rank a Palestinian has ever attained in al Qaeda’s operational hierarchy from the time that Laden founded the organization in Peshawar 17 years ago.
The makeup of the stream of visitors thronging to the mourners’ tent in Amman is instructive – Jordanian Palestinian notables, Palestinian Authority officials and officers based in Jordan, and Jordanian lawmakers, members of the fundamentalist Islamic Front.
Upon leaving the tent, the visitors were interviewed by Jordanian intelligence and asked to explain why they saw fit to console the family of a high al Qaeda operative. According to debkafile‘s counter-terror sources, some protested lamely they had been on their way to a wedding when they chanced to hear of a family in mourning and stopped on their way to fulfill the Islamic observance of comforting the bereaved.
Our exclusive sources have has turned up some salient landmarks of Jama’a’s history.
Aged 35 when hit by the American missile, the Palestinian terrorist took an Islamic studies degree at Medina University in Saudi Arabia. In the 1990s he moved from Tulkarm to Jordan to join Issam Barqawi in founding a fundamentalist Islamic front called Bayhat al-Imam, the Imam’s Oath, which many Palestinians joined. With Arafat’s extensive covert network in Jordan and powerful levers of control in the Jordanian Palestinian community, he must have known about the new movement and may be assumed to have been involved in its establishment.
Juma’a moved from Jordan to join up with Zarqawi’s men in Iraq late in March 2003, before the US-led invasion army reached Baghdad. From that time on, he assumed his alias of Abu Anas.
In 2004, he became deeply involved in an al Qaeda operation outside Iraq.
debkafile‘s sources reveal that it was Juma’a who was behind the abortive chemical weapons plot against Jordan that was thwarted last April and first exposed on this site on April 21, 2004. It was his idea to send one of three chemical explosives trucks smuggled in from Syria to Jordan to the Adam Bridge linking Jordan and Israel and try to get it across for a large-scale poison attack on an Israeli target. If the truck failed to cross the border, it was ordered to blow up at the border terminal. In either case, he would have established the precedent of the first al Qaeda chemical attack against an Israeli target.
Neither came off and the Jordanian authorities later rounded up an al Qaeda cell in Amman
Abu Anas distinguished himself as a key operations officer in the eighteen months he spent with the Jordanian master terrorist in Iraq and was elevated to number two spot. Two months ago, he received his last assignment, the sensitive mission of implanting a major al Qaeda team in the Shiite Sadr City of Baghdad. Zarqawi calculated that by quickly filling the vacuum left by the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s defeat in Najef, al Qaeda would draw in Mehdi Army militiamen deprived of their leader and establish a formidable anti-US anti-government presence in the Iraqi capital. By killing the Palestinian terrorist mastermind, the Americans stymied this plan.

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