Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Conflicts Forum interviews Hamas rep in Lebanon Usamah Hamdan

See many more articles from Arab language and Middle Eastern press
on this and other subjects at the OURAIM Archive


Conflicts Forum

Hamas, Palestinians, Fatah, Mecca Agreement

On security in Gaza, Palestinian democracy, the National
Unity Government, and the kidnapping of Alan Johnston

The following is an edited and annotated transcript of a
discussion between Hamas’s representative in Lebanon,
Usamah Hamdan 1, the British Member of Parliament, Rt Hon
Michael Ancram QC 2, the Director of London’s Global
Strategy Forum, Jonathan Lehrle 3, and Co-Director of
Conflicts Forum, Mark Perry 4. The meeting took place at
the Albergo Hotel, Beirut, on June 19, 2007. The transcript
of this meeting could not be made public - for reasons
which become apparent - until the BBC journalist Alan
Johnston had been released. Alan Johnston was released in
the early hours of 4th July 2007. (A verbatum transcript of
this meeting can be viewed here [PDF].)

Michael Ancram: Good to see you. Lots has happened since we
last met.5 I guess you have been busy, Gaza has been
interesting, I’m keen to hear what has been going on. How
do you think things will go?

Usamah Hamdan: I will start from the Mecca Agreement. At
Mecca there were three important points. The first one was
on the National Unity Government; the second point covered
the reform of the security services and called for a new
security plan for the Palestinian territories, and the
third point was on the reform of the PLO and the new
political arrangements inside the Palestinian political
body. That means that the relations within the PLO itself,
the relations between the PLO and the Palestinian
Authority, the internal Palestinian relations.6 And we [in
the Hamas movement] went back to Gaza and within one month
there was the formation of the national unity government.
We started talking about security. There was a security
plan that was put forward and that was endorsed by the
government and that was then endorsed by Abu Mazen himself
as President.7

When we started to apply that [the security plan] on the
ground we faced an important problem — which was that the
main General in the security service failed to apply and
rejected this plan. That was General Rashid Abu Shabak.8 He
ordered all the security officers not to receive the
Interior Minister without permission.9 So we were not able
to make any progress. We were not able to go anywhere and
the Interior Minister was not able to order the security
service to implement the security plan that was agree to.
The Interior Minister was not able to order any security
service to apply the plan.10

So because of these difficulties we talked directly to Abu
Mazen in April in Cairo and it was a frank talk about this
plan which was endorsed by himself and we insisted that the
plan that was agreed to be implemented. But he did not
promise to do anything. He just said, ‘I will talk with Mr
Mohamed Dahlan and then I will give you an answer, and this
answer will be inside the territories.’ [That is: ‘I will
give you the answer in the West Bank or Gaza and not during
a meeting in Cairo.’] He [Abu Mazen] went to Gaza. He had a
meeting with the Interior Minister and he told him, ‘I
consulted with Mohammed Dahlan and he rejected to apply
that [agreed to security plan.] So we reached an end point,
we reached a closed point in the security plan. At the same
time there was another security plan, which was generated
by the Americans, you know [Lt. General Keith Dayton], and
the Palestinian Mr. Dahlan and some of our neighbours.

This plan (I think a part of it was published) and all the
people knew about it — the politicians knew about it — I
think you have a copy of this plan.11 This plan calls for
the establishment of a new security force taken from the
Presidential Guard. It was supposed to train 20,000
soldiers and they were to be trained in Jordan, Egypt, the
UK, the US and in Russia. This was a complete plan and the
budget for this plan was about $1.27bn dollars and we
followed that up. In Cairo there was training for 500
[Palestinians] at that time — in April. They were talking
about training up more than 5000 at the end October and in
Jordan they were talking about training about 4000 and
outside in the West they were talking about training about
700 officers. They will collect the other members from the
security service.12

So they were closing the road for the national security
plan and they were having their own security plan. [They
were using these plans as a pretext] to give themselves
some time.13 They [Fatah] were undermining their own
[National Unity] Government and undermining the security
plan which we were working on. In order to make the
situation more difficult they started disturbing the
security in Gaza by some robberies and killings and by
supporting some drug mobs and finally the kidnapping of
some people, including the journalist Alan Johnston — who
was kidnapped by some members of the [Dagmoush] family, who
were directly connected to Mohammed Dahlan.14

At this time, in May, we visited Egypt and we talked
frankly about what was happening on the ground and we told
them [Abu Mazen and other members of the Fatah leadership]:
‘From the beginning of March until the end of May those
forces [of Dahlan’s Preventive Security Services] kidnapped
and assassinated 40 members from Hamas. Those kidnapped
were not militants. Most of them were civilians. Some of
them were not only civilians they were working in public
issues and it was clear that some of them were students,
some of them were engineers.’ But they continued
assassinating the people. And you don’t want to
investigate. Samir Medhon15 appeared on Palestinian TV and
he said ‘well I was responsible for burning 20 houses of
Hamas people I am responsible for killing this man and that
man.’ He named four names of people he assassinated. So we
talked to Abu Mazen and we said ‘you have to arrest him,
you have to take him to court’ and he said ‘I’ll try to do
something.’ Finally we discovered that he was staying in
his house — in Abu Mazen’s house.16

So it was clear what the problem was: this group [the
Preventive Security Services] was working on their own
agenda. I don’t want to say they were connected to the
Israeli’s or the Americans, they were working on their own
agenda, which was against the national agenda.17 Abu Mazen
was supposed to make a decision. But I believe he could not
do that. This is the best thing if you want to say more
than this he may be involved in this. I prefer to say he
could not do anything. He knew those people were supported
by the Americans and the Israelis. And he could not do
anything against them.

MA: Was Dahlan involved with them?

UH: Yes, Dahlan was involved with them. I want to add one
more thing which is important. Some senior advisors working
with Abu Mazen went to Europe and to the United States and
some of them went to Arab countries talking to them to stop
the support for the national unity government, especially
the financial aid. They told them that if they stopped the
financial aid that the national unity government would
collapse by the end of the year and that that collapse
would end the political programme of Hamas and so that
would open the road for a new political peace process. For
example [Rafir Husseini], he went to Brussels and he talked
directly to the Europeans. I think you may have heard of
this. Saeb Erekat did the same thing in the United States.
When we faced Abu Mazen with these facts, saying we had
some recorded things of this, he was angry. He said, ‘I
will not accept it. I will not accept it that this man is
saying this or that. I am the man who expresses the
official position of the President.’ But it was clear that
[Rafir Husseini] is his office manager and he was the one
who sent him to the Europeans. He did not buy the ticket
from Ramallah and go by himself, or on his own behalf. At
the same time [Yasir Abed Rabbo] went and he said in
public, in the United Arab Emirates, that supporting Hamas
will damage the Palestinian cause.

So, we have come to this point. They are undermining the
National Unity Government. They are supporting the siege
against the Palestinian people. They are undermining the
security plan and over that they are doing their best to
damage the security in the territories in order to destroy
everything. There was no other choice. We had no other
choice. You have to make your own step against those
people. So our step was very limited. We had to face those
generals of the security forces who worked against the
national benefits. Our actions were not against Fatah, they
were not against the President, they were not against the
security forces. We made that step and it was clear that no
one of Fatah’s leaders were attacked in Gaza – I’m talking
about Gaza. Not one of their offices or their institutions
was attacked. Even the security forces; we asked them to
leave their offices before any attacks and if they did
there were no attacks, there were no killings. For example
in Rafah, you can check that, we took over all the offices
without shooting anybody

MA: And the Marina?

UH: The marina in Jubalya was the same. For example there
were senior leaders from Fatah in Gaza, no one attacked
them [Ahmed Hellas, Acre el Avaa, Sufran Abu Zaide] you
have dozens of names. More than this, we called them. We
knew there is some leaders in the security forces, they
were involved in the killings; but we believe we want to
solve our problem, we don’t want to complicate the problem.
If you guarantee their position we would release them, and
that happened. With someone like [Misawa Hallerpersi], who
was responsible for the massacre of Al Hidea Mosque, when
about 30 people were killed in the mosque, I’m sorry to say
this in a way even the Israeli did not do that. It was not
as it was done in Hebron [the Hebron Massacre of the early
1990s]. Rather, I am talking about an official security
leader, an official security force, they did that in a
mosque killing more than 30 people and injuring more than
70 people.

Anyway we said at this point that we have to talk clearly
and frankly. The complications in the Palestinian situation
resulted from the weakness of Abu Mazen. It resulted from
the feeling that the United States and Israel may support
may generate a new leadership for the Palestinian people,
which is Mohamed Dahlan. And it is the feeling that if
Hamas could continue in power, forming the government,
having the majority in the legislative council, this may
not help the stability in the region. This wrong concept
generated this result.

I believe we have to talk about the future. The first
point: If you want to deal with the Palestinian people you
have to deal with their elected leadership. If anyone
thinks that he can generate a Palestinian leadership by
financial support and by some political support he will
complicate the situation and finally he will fail. And
everyone noticed that in Gaza, they could not even survive
for three days, even they were supported by the
international community by the Israelis for more than
twelve years.

Second point: I believe, if you are talking about a
solution, if you are talking about stability, you have to
deal with a real committed movement, and it was clear in
the last two years the most committed movement, for
example, to the ceasefire was Hamas, it was not Fatah, it
wasn’t any other group.

The third point: I believe they can continue putting the
Palestinian people under the siege. But helping Abu Mazen
by aid will not help him in front of his Palestinian
people. Now — and we will say that in the future — he is a
traitor. He is applying the outsider plans, he is doing the
steps as the Israeli wants. This will not help him, this
will not help his group.

So the solution is clear: To recognize the results of the
elections. To respect the Palestinian democracy; to support
the Palestinian people to secure the organizations; to
secure their democratic systems, and to deal with them
directly, talking about peace, security and the political
process. This will lead us in the right direction.
Otherwise I believe the Palestinian people will defend
their rights. They will defend their honor.

MA: How do you get this new process started?

UH: Well we have already started. In Gaza we call for the
police to start their work. What had happened? General
[Kamal Sheikh], who is the general command for the police,
asked all the policemen in Gaza to return to their homes,
not to do anything in the streets, and he will pay them
their salaries and if anyone went to the street doing his
job he will take him to a marshal court. So it is clear
that someone is trying to damage the whole situation while
you are doing your best to apply the rule of the
establishment, the institution. So the first point we have
a National Unity government, and this National Unity
government is supposed to be supported.

There was a security plan endorsed by the government who
are ready to start working on that and I believe we have to
work in order to hold a national dialogue conference – all
the groups are supposed to be invited – and then we can
start our dialogue under the supervision of the Arabs -
maybe some other people - but this time this dialogue is
supposed to be supervised and there must be guarantees,
anything which will be accepted, I mean the Palestinian
people will agree it, it is supposed to be applied on the
ground. If someone asked how to start the dialogue while
there are problems on the ground? We did not say that we
are taking over Gaza. We are asking the security forces to
start their work back, and the ministers to start their
work, they are working now but it is clear this security
plan which was generated by [Dayton] and his colleagues
will not work on the ground anymore.18

MA: Has Saudi Arabia still got a role?

UH: Well we have talked to Prince Saud al Faisal and we are
still committed to the Mecca Agreement and he said that in
the Arab League and he said well we believe we have to
start from this agreement.19 We appreciate this position
and I think it will be a good point to start from. The
Syrians support that, the Qatari, the Yemeni’s, the
Algeria, the Sudan, I think it’s a good number of states
that supported that. Even Amr Moussa he said on the phone
that he accepts the idea — that was between him and Khaled

Jonathan Lehrle: Is anybody seeing Amr Moussa in Beirut
today? He comes in this evening.

UH: He will come in today but [laughter] he probably has
enough on his agenda, so this is probably not something
that he will think about today.

MA: At the moment if you look at the perception in the
world you have very strong propaganda operation on behalf
of Abu Mazen, how do you counteract that?

UH: Well, they are repeating the same mistakes when they
brought him for the first time as a prime minister, when he
came as a prime minister, by their propaganda they
convinced all the Palestinian people that he was brought by
them to be a prime minister, even Fatah people, they
attacked him. When Abu Amar [Yasser Arafat] died and he
became the president by their propaganda they showed that
he is their man and this damaged him, now they are damaging
the remains of his reputation among the Palestinian people.
When Condoleezza Rice talked to him on the phone telling
him that she supports his steps, when President Bush talked
to him telling him that he will lift the sanctions against
a government that he had formed, when the support came
directly from the EU – this is damaging to all his

I believe Abu Mazen is losing his legitimacy inside the
Palestinian community. And by their acts, by his people’s
acts on the ground … in the West bank they attacked 150
institutions related to Hamas humanitarian – educational,
clubs, support for sports, mosques, even libraries … so
they attacked 150 institutions, they burned them; I’m not
saying attack, they damaged the doors, they burned them.
They attacked the house of the Parliament Speaker, they
burned it, even his family was in the house, they kidnapped
100 members of Hamas, they assassinated one of them, they
attacked the elected municipalities. In Nablus they kicked
them out and appointed a new municipality from Fatah, and
they did that in [Beita] and [Safirt] and several
municipalities, all that was done in just five days. And
even they said that they have stopped this, up to today
they are still attacking the people, destroying and
damaging the national institutions.

This shows the people what is the meaning of the security
under their rule, what is the meaning of security by their
security forces. It is not the al Aqsa brigades who are
doing that. It is the Presidential guard, the Preventive
Security Services and the intelligence services that doing
this.20 I believe if this propaganda continues, if this
support continues, this will not help Abu Mazen and it will
not help the Palestinian situation.

MA: Just so I’m clear. Your position is if you got back to
the Mecca Agreement that would be the position. The
conditions of Mecca, that would be a basis for restarting
the …. so Mecca is still the basis.

UH: Well, for us Mecca and the Cairo Agreement before that
and the Palestinian National Conciliation Agreement which
was agreed in June last year. It is still the basis and we
are committed to the three of those agreements. I believe
it was a temporary step in order to stop this, and to say
well we have to apply what we have agreed on, and if there
was international support for this I think we can have a
new start in the Palestinian situation. And I believe after
a while you can talk with a committed and a legitimate
Palestinian leadership.

MA: The reason I’m asking is that King Abdullah at the
moment is in Spain, talking to the European leaders and he
is taking the same view that Mecca must be the beginning.
Yesterday we saw President Assad and he is of the same
view. I had my foreign spokesman from my party with me and
I told him the first message he must get back is that
talking must begin again. At the moment if you look at the
propaganda, the news, everybody is saying that Hamas is in
Gaza so we must forget it and get on with the rest – that
that is very dangerous.

UH: Well, they are claiming that we are killing and
assassinating the people in Gaza. We said we are ready to
have an Arab investigation committee in Gaza. They can
come, they can stay, they can see everything on the ground.
The one who rejected this is the other side, and I know
why: they know what they have done before, they know what
they are doing now. I’m not saying that there were no
mistakes this last few days. There were mistakes and it is
clear we don’t accept that and we will not let the people
to do these mistakes again. It is clear we are not
defending the mistakes. We are not saying it did not
happen. We have the courage to say this was wrong. The main
problem is how to apply all the agreements. It is not
accepted anymore to make those agreements in the first
hours of the day but then not to apply them at the end of
the day.

I’m not sure if you have this expression, they say – it is
an Arabic expression – it means the talks in the night are
done with butter, when the sun rises it will melt again.
I’m not sure if you have something like this in English,
but we will not accept this situation. If they are really
insist to reform the whole situation they have points from
which are ready to start from, the Mecca Agreement,
Palestinian Conciliation and the Cairo Agreement from 2005.
This time we will insist on supervision for this dialogue
so everyone can know who is working positively and who is
trying to damage the situation.

MA: Who do you see doing the supervision?

UH: Well, as I said we accept the Arab supervision and if
there is anybody interested in that we will not say no for

MA: And how difficult [will it be] for you to see the
situation through. Abu Mazen is now given the money and
Gaza is cut off?

UH: Well there is an important point; we have to ask a big
question. If the international community is interested in
having Gaza separated from the West Bank, if they are he
can do that, if they are not I think he will not do that.
What will happen if they want this to happen? I believe
this will give a chance for all the people who are against
the democratic processes inside Palestine to say ‘well you
have tried, but it is not workable, so there is no real
democracy.’ And this will take us back to the position —
there is no use to accept this system, there is no use to
work with this system, the only solution is to burn up the
system. Do you know what this will mean for the whole
region? No one will accept the democracy anymore and this
will minimize the space for the people who believe in
democracy, the democratics, the political Islam. And this
will widen the space for the people who talking about
burning the system. I believe this will not secure the

Mark Perry: If he (Abu Mazen) agrees to the separation of
the West Bank and Gaza, he has crossed the red line.

UH: That’s right.

MP: Because no Palestinian could ever agree to the
separation of the West Bank and Gaza, just as no
Palestinian could ever agree to give up the Right of

UH: That’s right, but if somebody was supposing to cross
that line I believe he will lose everything as a
Palestinian leadership. No one will respect him as a
leader, because the Palestinian people insist for all time
on having a united nation, they are still talking about the
refugees outside the Palestinian territories, they still
talking about the people inside Israel as Palestinians. If
you ask anyone, he will not accept the idea of being an
Israeli, an Arab-Israeli, he will tell you directly he is a
Palestinian. So if he cross that line I think he will lose

MA: Very interesting. It has been helpful for me because
I’m going back on Thursday and would be able to give some

UH: Well, I will try to follow-up today and tomorrow to see
if we have some contacts with the Saudis and others, if
there is anything new I will try to let you know.

MP: How is the Central Committee with Abu Mazen’s decision?

UH: Well, there are some people who are not accepting that.
Abbas Zaki told me frankly that he is basically against
that, and I was shocked by that. He told me. But he is a
weak man, you cannot count on him, he may change his
position from this chair to that chair. And I believe he is
corrupted. Two million is not a little piece of money.

MP: What about the others?

UH: Well, Hani al-Hassan, he said clearly that this will
damage everything.21 But Hani[’s position] is weak. Farouk
Quddumi he said nothing, he called for keeping the unity of

MP: Where is Dahlan?

UH: He is in Ramallah, he was in Egypt, he was in Taba.

MP: I understand that there was a telephone call in which a
colleague of Abu Mazen’s said that Abu Mazen said that he
wished that Dahlan would stay in Egypt. And this colleague
said that Abu Mazen said he hoped that Dahlan had been
humbled and that maybe all that would happen is that Salam
Fayad would resign but the government would stay intact.
The plan, I had heard, was for Dahlan to stay in Egypt, but
when I woke up next morning to hear that Abu Mazen had
dissolved the government and that Dahlan was in Ramallah, I
assume the Americans put him there?

UH: That’s right. Abu Mazen has problems. His main problem
is that he is a weak man, that he can’t make decisions and
he is under pressure now but that does not mean he is not
responsible. He has some responsibility but he is not
acting as a president. Well they prevented him coming to
Gaza four days before the clashes. He talked to Ismail
Haniya on the phone and said he told him I am coming and
will not leave before solving the problem. Then two days

MP: Usamah, all he has going for him is the internal
security service and the Presidential Guard and Mohammad
Dahlan, he doesn’t have the rest of them.

UH: That’s right.

MP: At the end of the day Abu Ala is broken.

MA: What if he has money to hand out?

MP: You know what, the Americans will not deliver. Any
money will go astray, into condominiums, that money will
not reach where it is supposed to.

MA: You mentioned, it is a small thing but could be quite
important in Britain. You mentioned that Alan Johnston’s
captors were a family…

UH: The Dagmoush family.

MA: That they were associated with Dahlan. Would Dahlan
have known?

UH: Yes. He knew this, he does. And for three times we came
to the point to release Alan Johnston and by telephone call
from [Samir Musharawi], who is Dahlan’s man, they stopped

JL: And what about now, because Hamas gave a deadline?

UH: Well now, in one point which we are working on is to
have the man secure and safe. If you did anything wrong
they may hurt him so we are making the pressure, slowly in
order to have him released. We are talking for some senior
members of the family, telling them this will not help the
whole family, and they have to play a role, they can’t
cover their backs while they are kidnapping this man.22

JL: And their response from them, they understand, they are
listening to this seriously?

UH: Yes, well I believe so. It is dangerous, so can’t make
a militant attack against them, but you have to pressure
them slowly, slowly in order to have this man released. The
most important thing is that our people know him well (Alan
Johnston), they know him well. I’ve talked yesterday to our
[person there in Gaza], he saw him dozens of times, not in
public, he visited him in his office. They respect him.
They believe they have to do the job slowly in order not to
hurt him.

1. Usamah Hamdan is a senior member of the Islamic
Resistance Movement and is the Hamas Representative in
Lebanon. [back]

2. Michael Ancram is a United Kingdom Conservative Party
politician and Member of Parliament for Devizes. In May
1993, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of
State at the Northern Ireland Office. In January 1994, he
was appointed Minister of State at the Northern Ireland
Office. In September 2001, he was appointed Deputy Leader
of the Opposition and Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign
& Commonwealth Affairs; in November 2003, he also become
Shadow Secretary of State for International Affairs. Until
December 2005, he was Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
and Deputy Leader of the Party. He has been a regular
interlocutor with Hamas and Hezbollah officials as a guest
of Conflicts Forum in Beirut. [back]

3. Jonathan Lehrle is the Director of the London-based
Global Strategy Forum, an independent think-tank which
researches and stimulates discussion on international and
security issues largely, but not exclusively, from the
standpoint of the UK national interest. In 2001 he was
appointed Chief of Staff to the Shadow Foreign Secretary
and Deputy Leader, Michael Ancram QC MP, a position he held
until December 2005. The transcript of this interview was
provided by Jonathan Lehrle. [back]

4. Mark Perry is an American author and historian and
Co-Director of Conflicts Forum, an international
organization that seeks an opening to political Islam.

5. Ancram, Lehrle, Perry and Conflicts Forum Founder and
Director, Alastair Crooke, had a private meeting with
Hamdan in Beirut during the first week of April, 2007.

6. This was stated in order of priority. That is to say: at
Mecca, the parties agreed that the overriding issue was for
Fatah and for Hamas to agree to a security program prior to
shaping any political agreements. The two parties said that
they would present their programs for a security
arrangement in the first weeks after the conclusion of the
Mecca Agreement. [back]

7. The security plan adopted by Hamas called for a single
security service comprised of elements of the Hamas armed
militia integrated with elements of the standing Fatah
militia security services so that there would be a single
security service acting under the lead of an interior
minister accountable to an elected Palestinian president.
Disarmament of independent militias, it was believed by the
Hamas leadership, could go forward once the security plan
was agreed to. [back]

8. Rashid Abu Shabak was named by Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas as the head of P.A. Preventive
Security for the West Bank and Gaza on April 28, 2005. A
close associate of Mohammad Dahlan, Shabak gained his
reputation as a tough commander by identifying and turning
over collaborators for execution to the security services.
However, his reputation is mixed, at best. For instance, he
arrested Akram Muhammad al-Zatma for identifying the
whereabouts of Hamas leader Saleh Shahedeh (who, along with
his family, was killed) to the Israelis — though it is
likely that Zatma, who was executed, was innocent of the
charges. Shabak’s number two was Samir al-Mashharawi, a
Fatah official close to the Central Committee, deployed by
Abu Mazen to help Shabak. In the wake of the Hamas
parliamentary victory in January of 2006, Mashharawi was
given responsibility for a series of street confrontations
through March, April and May of 2006 that pitted Fatah
al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade cadre against the Popular
Resistance Committees — competitors with Fatah for power in
Gaza. [back]

9. Rashid Abu Shabak’s line-of-command is to the President
through the head of the National Security Council. The head
of the National Security Council is Mohammad Dahlan. The
Interior Minister at the time of the controversy over the
security plan was Hani al-Qawasmeh. Mr. Qawasmeh threatened
to resign several times over Mr. Abu Mazen’s refusal to
accept the agreed-to security plan, telling Mr. Abu Mazen
that Mohammad Dahlan was thwarting the implementation of
the plan. His resignation was refused twice before being
accepted on May 14. [back]

10. As the head of the Preventive Security Services, Rashid
Abu Shabak takes orders from the head of the National
Security Council. The head of the National Security Council
is Mohammad Dahlan. Mr. Dahlan reports directly to
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Fatah-only
Preventive Security Services — according to the Washington
Post — were set up under Mohammad Dahlan to counter the
forces of the Executive Services — the Hamas militia — and
were comprised of 6000 officers and enlisted Fatah
personnel as of June 1 of 2007. The number are uncertain,
but the total numbers of PSS and Presidential Guard
personnel answering solely to Mohammad Dahlan are thought
to be between 16,000 and 20,000 persons. None of them
belong to Hamas. The position of Hamas has always been that
their 6000 man “Executive Force” should be integrated into
the security services. [back]

11. The plan was published in the Jordanian weekly
newspaper, Al-Majd and detailed in an article in Asia Times
entitled, “Document Details US Plan to Sink Hamas.” [back]

12. At one point the US and Jordan considered arming and
retraining the “Badr Brigade” a stay-behind unit of the
Palestine Liberation Army in Jordan and deploying it to the
West Bank. Israel would not agree to the deployment. [back]

13. It has been reliably reported that the Mr. Omar
Suleiman, the Egyptian General Intelligence Chief, was
working on behalf of Saudi Arabia to make certain that the
security plan was implemented. After a period of paralysis
in April, Suleiman planned for a number of meetings between
the groups in Cairo in May. But throughout May and into
early June, Suleiman was becoming impatient with the lack
of progress of both sides in implementing a viable security
plan, despite the pressure he was putting on them. As
violence mounted in Gaza, Suleiman became increasingly
disturbed by attempts to undermine what he viewed as
attempts to create instability in Gaza — which would
endanger Egyptian assets in the Gaza Strip. During the
first week of June, Suleiman convened a meeting of the
parties in Cairo to address these incidents. According to
an article in the authoritative Al-Ahram Weekly: “The
Egypt-Fatah-Hamas meeting ought to conclude in agreement on
three issues — the commitment of both sides to work towards
a firm end to mutual incitement, either in respectively
controlled media or mosques; the effective execution of a
detailed plan to collect uncontrolled arms within each
group, especially those in the hands of second and third
cadres leaders; and firm enforcement of the decisions of
the leadership of both factions.” Hamas came with two other
demands — first, that Egypt control the actions of Mohamad
Dahlan and Rashid Abu Shabak and that the arming of Fatah
by the United States and friendly Arab government be
suspended. The talks did not proceed: Fatah officials said
they would not meet with Hamas officials in Cairo and
canceled their attendance at the meetings. [back]

The Dagmoush family of southern Gaza is a large criminal
clan headed by 28-year-old Mumtaz Dagmoush. The family is
involved in car theft, arms smuggling and extortion. It has
been used in the past as a means for Fatah to spread its
control through the Gaza Strip during the Israeli
occupation — providing a natural cover for fighters and
political figures wanted by the Israelis. “The Army of
Islam” — the group that was holding Alan Johnston — is
simply one, albeit radical, arm of the family. Parts of the
family have provided support for the emerging Popular
Resistance Committees. Mohammad Dahlan’s ties to the family
are well known: Dahlan’s base of support is in Khan Yunis,
where he was born and raised, and where the Dagmoushes have
powerful influence. The Dagmoush clan is implicated in the
kidnapping, last year, of four British citizens. [back]

15. This is Samir “the hammer” el-Madhoun who, on
Wednesday, June 13, found himself surrounded in the
Palestinian Presidential compound in Gaza by Hamas gunmen.
Madhoun and several of his compatriots fought their way out
of the compound after Madhoun taunted the Hamas platoon
that had him surrounded: “I will give you until 3 this
afternoon to surrender,” he shouted. The next afternoon,
stopped at a Hamas roadblock, he was recognized, mobbed by
a pro-Hamas crowd and executed. Madhoun earned the nickname
“hammer” because he liked to execute Hamas officials by
hitting them on the head with a hammer. [back]

16. In
Abu Mazen’s house in Gaza. [back]

17. Hamas officials
have taken over the Interior Ministry buildings in Gaza, as
well as the Presidential Compound as well as the
headquarters of the Preventive Security Services. They have
reported discovering files and computer discs of “a highly
sensitive nature.” There are five different categories of
information, according to published reports: first,
Preventive Security Service files of communications with
American officials of an unspecified nature; second,
Preventive Security Service intelligence leadership files
on Hamas and other Palestinian leaders; third, lists of
Hamas officials targeted for assassination; fourth, files
on the personal lives of Palestinian officials and their
wives and daughters that were intended to be used or that
have been used for the purposes of blackmail; fifth,
general U.S. and Palestinian intelligence files of an
unspecified nature dating back many years. An official in
Abu Mazen’s office noted: “If these files are thorough,
then Hamas will know just about every secret [that we
have]. That means, the requests of foreign nations,
funding, meetings, joint operations, you name it.” [back]

18. Usamah Hamdan and the Hamas leadership are here
endorsing the security plan that resulted from the National
Unity Government but which was not implemented. [back]

19. As of June 29, the Saudis have said publicly that they
still retain their support for the National Unity
Government. Their endorsement was followed by that of the
head of the Arab League. Egypt and Jordan have endorsed the
government of Abu Mazen. Syria has called for dialogue.

20. The head of military and security
intelligence in the West Bank is Tawfik Tarawi, formerly
designated by the Israeli government as one of “the Muqata
terrorists.” Tarawi now maintains extensive files on Hamas,
its networks in the West Bank, and its reach inside the
religious community. His new headquarters, near the
Presidential Compound, has — on its third floor — extensive
files on each Hamas member and cell. Tarawi’s operation is
said to be supported by American funds. [back]

21. On
June 27, senior Fatah leader, Hani al-Hassan, spoke out in
an interview on the pan-Arab TV network, al Jazeera, where,
Al-Ahram Weekly reports, “he argued that the recent
showdown in Gaza was not a confrontation between Fatah and
Hamas but one between Hamas and the Dahlan faction….
Following the interview, representatives of the Dahlan
faction called Abbas, pressuring him to fire and punish
Al-Hassan, while masked gunmen opened fire on his home in
Ramallah. Al-Hassan was not in Ramallah during the attack.”

22. BBC reporter Alan Johnston was released by
the Army of Islam on July 4, 2007. [back]

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