Friday, 27 July 2007

Extraordinary interview with pro-resistance Iraqi Nationalist



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

--------------------------------------------


[left: Latuff cartoon]


“Political process to the benefit of al Qaeda”


Abduljabbar al Kubaysi, influential political leader
of the
Iraqi resistance and secretary-general of the
Iraqi
Patriotic Alliance (IPA) elaborates on the
new situation
evolving in Iraq

Q: In the last period the European media when touching Iraq
have been speaking only on a sectarian civil war. What is
really happening?

Actually the US occupiers as well as the government imposed
by them are pushing for this sectarian civil war. Also the
Iranians have interest in this as they are looking for a
federation in the South as well. Their attempt is to make
the Sunni, the Christians, the Mandeans leave to have a
purely Shiite zone. Under the conditions of war this
sectarian drive has an immediate effect.

The US uses this as an argument to stay in Iraq as they
claim that they would be needed to settle this strife.

There is, however, so much evidence that the intelligence
services of the US, of the Iraqi as well as of the Iranian
government are the real source of the violence. They plant
bombs or pack them into cars which are then being exploded
by remote control or by helicopter in both Shiite and Sunni
areas deliberately killing civilians not involved in
politics. Thus, they try to spark the sectarian conflict.

In the beginning, the media used to check on the site of
the blast and often eye witnesses contradicted the official
version that a person exploded himself. Now they use to
cordon off the area and impede questions to the locals.
They want to have the news spread that militants did the
massacre while it was governing forces or the US who
planted explosive loads. In most of the cases there is no
person involved killing himself. In these cases you can be
sure that the ruling coalition is involved.

For example, they changed the name of an important road in
the Al Adhamiye district in Baghdad from a Sunni religious
figure to a Shiite one during the night. It was the Shiite
community of al Adhamiye itself to change it back to the
original name. Then they came again with their Hummers…

But actually they did not success succeed in creating the
rift between Sunnis and Shiites. Yes, in officials politics
there is. The Sunni Islamic Party, which is with the
Americans, and the Shiite block, which is with Iran and the
US, litigate along such lines, but they did not succeed in
pushing the ordinary people to go with them. Here and
there, there might be some minor conflicts but in substance
the broad masses on both sides insist that they are Iraqis
regardless of their confession.

Look to Najaf and see the positions of the Arab Shiite
Ayatollahs who continue to advocate national unity and
oppose the occupation. Or look to Diala province which is
composed of 50% Shiites and 50% Sunnis and at the same time
is a strong base of the resistance. Two big Shiites tribes,
al Buhishma and the followers of Ayatollah Abdul Karim al
Moudheris, are with the resistance and everybody knows it.
The Ayatollah’s son fell in combat. He was the leader of a
big tribal contingent of the resistance. In Baquba, the
provincial capital, they cannot do the same cleansing as in
Basra with the Sunnis or as in Amara with the Mandeans. In
Baquba both Shiite and Sunnis support the resistance.
Certainly there are attacks by the different resistance
groups on the Iraqi government agencies, the US army,
Iranian forces and the Shiite parties and militias like the
Madhi army which are inside the political process, but you
will not hear of sectarian killings.

There is another example: Tal Afar in the Northwest of Iraq
near Mosul. Between 50 and 70% of its population is Shiite.
Nevertheless it is one of the capitals of the resistance.

It lies in the interest of the West and Iran to make the
conflict look like a sectarian one. Not only the US wants
to justify their presence with the need to impede a
sectarian civil war, but also Iran does. They want not only
to grab the South but they also want to have Baghdad and
therefore purge it from Sunnis. With their alliance with
the Kurds in the North this would suffice to control the
country.

We do, however, not believe that these plans will work out.
There are very big tribes in the Arab world and in Iraq
which span the entire country from the North to the South
like al Jibouri whose people live from Nasseria to Mosul,
al Shamari or al Azouwi. Most of them include both Shiites
and Sunnis. There are some smaller tribes which belong only
to one sect but most of the bigger ones are mixed and the
inter-confessional marriages continue unabated.

They did not succeed in implanting the sectarian strife
into the base of the society. It remains on the surface of
the parties which co-operate with the US occupation. In the
big towns they also find some ignorant lumpen elements who
they can instigate, but they will not be able to constitute
the main political entities according to sect affiliation
as it is the outspoken US intention.

Q: At the onset, the Americans set all their hope on the
Shiite political parties but later they discovered that the
situation ran out of their control. So they developed the
strategy which was called redirection trying to bring in
Sunni forces and also sections of the resistance. Did these
efforts yield any results?

As time went by, the US realised that their allies’ loyalty
goes only to Iran. Many of them are even Iranians. For
example right now 13 MPs are officers in the Iranian army.
Or, in the former Governing Council only six members out of
25 were Arabs both Sunnis and Shiites. Another eight were
Iraqis belonging to minorities. So the majority were real
foreigners. The al Hakim family are for example from
Isfahan. Only some years ago al Hakim was still called
Abulaziz al Isfahani.

It were the US neo-cons to introduce the model of religious
and ethnic divide. They deliberately wanted to create a
Shiite rule as they wanted to have a minority in power, a
minority with regard to the entire Arab world, which they
thought to be able to better stir and control.

They originally planned to continue their campaign to
Damascus and install the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood there. So
Damascus would have supported the Iraqi Sunnis while Tehran
would have done the same for the Iraqi Shiites and the war
would have carried on for decades – not on the base of
anti-imperialism but on sectarian grounds. But the Iraqi
resistance foiled these plans.

The Iraqi resistance sprang up rapidly and gained strength
so they recognised that they could not cope with them only
by military means. This is the main reason of their
strategic shift. They designed the political process and
brought in the Sunni Islamic Party. They intended to dry
the lake where the resistance fishes swim. But soon the
influence of the Islamic Party evaporated and their leaders
have been flying to the Green zone or abroad.

At the same time they realized that the Iranians had deeply
penetrated into the state apparatus beyond the confines of
the game. So they moved to also curb this process.

Q: What is the situation of the resistance both in a
political and a military sense?

The resistance is still gaining strength. Only judging by
numbers they rose from some thousand now exceeding by far
100.000 fighters. Their combat capabilities increased as
well. But they could also develop intelligence structures
penetrating the Iraqi army and police but also sometimes
the environment of the US army. So all together the system
of resistance includes some 400.000 people.

The US army and their allies are really demoralised. While
the resistance fights to liberate its country they only
fight for money. Thus they are becoming more and more
savage. They increase numbers not only of direct US troops,
but also of mercenary forces which are even more barbarian.
Taken all together they consist maybe of some one million
troops.

Look to the US losses released by the Pentagon itself which
are obviously sugar-coated. If you disregard the months of
special military operation like against Falluja or Tal Afar
you can see a clear tendency. At the beginning you had some
50 US soldiers killed by month, then later it was up to 80
and now some 100 get killed each month.

The resistance is now a real popular movement; it is a
culture among the people. Everybody contributes its share.
And the fact that no government helps us has also its good
side. If they would pay than you have always corruption.
The typical Arab façade would have been erected. Now,
instead, there is no excuse. Every section is responsible
for itself, to organise its people, to train it, to plan
the attacks, to raise money, etc.

Also politically there have been taken some steps ahead. At
the beginning there were hundreds of groups but people
understand the necessity of unity. Now we can say that
there are eight main groups. What has so far not been
achieved is a unified political command which remains one
of the main tasks ahead.

Q: There are reports of armed clashes between resistance
groups and forces related to al Qaeda. What is the relation
of the resistance to the Salafi and Takfiri groups?

Let us remember that the West started with insulting the
resistance calling it foreigners and followers of the old
regime. They wanted to allude that the resistance has no
connection to the Iraqi people. Actually the resistance
sprang up on a very grass root level to defend its identity
against the enormous provocations of US neo-colonialism.
They were former soldiers, tribesmen, nationally and
religiously inspired people who acted in their immediate
environment. It was neither foreigners nor Baathists who
were the driving force of the inception although Baathists
were participating as well.

The way the US deposed Saddam was perceived as an
aggression to all Iraqis including those who opposed him.
To be honest eventually Saddam personally played an
important role to push his people into resistance. He did
not try to save himself by hiding as was being reported.
No, he went from city to city, from Tikrit to Samarra,
Anbar and also Baghdad. He contacted Sheikhs, officers and
so on. He said that they should resist not for him as a
president, but for the nation and for Islam. He asked them
even to not use any more his picture as a rallying symbol.
Only in the following months Baath could reorganise as a
party and join as such the resistance. From the point of
view of the resistance it was a great luck that they could
not arrest him for a long time.

Regarding al Qaeda, in the first two years no such thing
existed under this name and even the Americans mainly spoke
of foreigners penetrating from outside and especially from
Syria. They tried to create a pretext to attack Syria
although Damascus did absolutely nothing to help the
resistance. On the contrary they did 200% what Washington
dictated to them to avert an aggression at least in the
first months.

In the first two years they were a very limited force with
maybe 1.000 to 1.500 fighters coming from inside and
outside. Also the level of military activity was not very
high. In a time frame of two years they themselves claim
some 800 attacks while the resistance were carrying out 800
attacks by week.

Later they steadily gained ground and they still keep
growing. They have a lot of money but they do not spend it
on a luxury life, but live a very decent life on minimum
needs dedicating everything to the struggle, which shows a
very serious and attracting behaviour. They spend the money
on the struggle. Most of the youths join them not for their
ideology but because they offer a place to resist.

In the East you do not need to write books to convince
people. If your personal life style is congruent with your
mission you will convince people.

When America started the political process it eventually
came to the benefit of al Qaeda. Those joining the
political process argued that otherwise the Iranians would
take over and in this way they would only co-operate a
short period and then could kick the Americans out as well.
Of course they failed. Al Qaeda argued in a very principled
way that only protracted armed struggle will advance their
cause and reality confirmed their way of thinking, their
trend.

They offered money also to some resisting tribes with
strong Muslim identity which needed these resources for
their struggle. Thus they created a coalition of six
groups, one al Qaeda and five local groups. That gave them
a big push. They were not big forces like the Islamic Army
but still with roots in Ramadi, Falluja, Haditha etc. They
gave their coalition the name Mujahideen Shura Council.
Under this label they continue until now and not as al
Qaeda.

They have a lot of resources and a steady supply also from
outside while the other groups get nearly nothing from
outside. Today maybe we can say that al Qaeda is the first
organisation of the resistance. They go separately from the
others but nevertheless in each city there is a kind of
council to co-ordinate military action, to chalk out a plan
of defence.

Islam is a weapon to make the people rise up. The Islamic
history, the Islamic figures, the Islamic culture is used
to push the people to fight because they consider Islam as
their identity. National and religious symbols are being
mixed. The Koran says that if Islamic land is attacked by
foreigners, armed resistance is obligatory. This is until
today out of question in the common sense. Jihad becomes a
Muslim duty for the people being occupied by foreign
invaders like fasting and praying.

So all the resistance groups whether Islamic or not use
this spirit as a tool to mobilise and raise the people.
Take for example the statements of the Baath party and of
Izzat al Durri personally. Judging by his language you
would believe him to be an extreme Islamist. But this does
not mean that all of them are really Islamists.

The entire environment is Islamic. By Marxist or
nationalist calls you will not attract young people. Where
ever young people go you will find Islamic sentiment and
spirit dominating. This indirectly favours al Qaeda. People
who join them do not feel to do something not normal as the
general conditions are Islamic. On the contrary they will
believe to only act consistently.

Q: But what about the sectarian attacks? Doesn’t al Qaeda
bear at least partial responsibility for them?

The responsibility lies with the government both with its
Shiite and Sunni components, the US, Israel and Iran.
Regarding the attacks attributed to al Qaeda by the West,
one has to subtract 95%. And for the remaining 5% you hear
only a part of the truth. Sometimes al Qaeda retaliates to
governmental or militia attacks on Sunni areas by attacking
Shiite areas. They want to show the Sunni population that
they can defend and convince them to remain. They thus want
to foil the plan to drive the Sunnis out of Baghdad which
should become part of the Southern Shiite federal entity.
This is pursued by the Shiite parties, Iran and in the
beginning also by the US.

But this is not a strategy and happened only few times in
the last year reacting to big attacks. And for every attack
they take the full responsibility. They direct a call to
the wise people among the Shiites: stop the crimes which
are being committed in your name, otherwise you will have
to bear the responsibility as well. We are able to strike
back with ten times the force.

I do not want to defend this approach, but we need to
restore the facts from the distortions by the West.

There is another striking example. Al Qaeda started in
Falluja as the entire resistance started there. While it is
a 100% Sunni town right after the beginning of the
occupation about 12.000 Shiite families from the South took
refuge in Falluja and Ramadi because they were accused of
being Baathist. I was not only an eyewitness, but also
involved in organising the relief for them. They were
helped by the ordinary population because they regarded
them as being with the resistance. Until today about 20.000
Shiite refugees remain in Falluja and not a single hostile
act on sectarian base could be observed not even by al
Qaeda. There certainly are quarrels between the resistance
groups over domination, this is normal, but not on the
basis of religion.

Q: Two years ago you founded the Patriotic Islamic National
Front comprising the Baath Party, the Iraqi Communist Party
(Central Command) and the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance. There
are several religious figures both Sunni and Shiite who
support you, but until now the big military formations of
the resistance seem not to be represented by your front. Is
the time still not ripe for such a front?

It is an exclusively political front and not a military
one. That does not mean that there are no relations but we
confine ourselves strictly to the political level.
Regarding the Islamic military forces you must understand
that they were built as military resistance groups and did
not have any political representation. We are not
interested to recruit this group or that leader. No, we are
in a comprehensive dialogue with all of them with the
proposal to form a unified political command of the
resistance set against the so-called political process.
Maybe it will go the other way round that a co-ordination
is formed and we will join them. Our aim is not to show our
role, but to create this political unification.

Whenever we seem to be very close to accomplishment,
something happens which impedes its advancement. We also
know what is behind. It is the influence and the meddling
of the adjacent Arab regimes.

Regarding al Qaeda, they always want to remain separated
and are not included in this process.

Q: During all these years of the resistance, there has been
the problem of the ambiguous behaviour of the movement of
Muqtada as Sadr who on the one hand became the main pillar
of the government and a driving force of the sectarian
killing, but on the other hand speaks against the
occupation, against the American imposed federative
constitution and even against the sectarian strife. As he
leads the most important section of the poor people how do
you believe to bring at least sections of his followers to
join the resistance?

Contrary to most of our friends, at the beginning I always
stressed that his movement is very wide and that many
Baathists, Marxists and nationalists went inside to protect
themselves against the Iranian militias. Maybe half of his
movement comes from other political environments and were
not followers of his cleric family. So whatever mistake he
would commit I thought we could count on these people to
rectify it or retrieve at least some of them. Secondly,
most of his followers are very poor but at the same time
uneducated. Of cause this is a double-edged sword.
Different to the other Shiite parties the social background
of his base are not wealthy merchants who might speak one
day against the occupation and the next day sign profitable
contracts with the US. Their opposition to the occupation
is real.

I believe that finally he has been pushed and cheated by
his allies in Iran, mainly Ayatollah Kazem Haeri who is the
successor of his uncle, and in Lebanon. Hezbollah visited
him three times advocating that he should follow the line
applied in Lebanon participating in the political process,
running for parliament, seizing positions in the state
apparatus and especially in the army thus enabling the
construction of a strong party. Otherwise al Hakim would
take over and dominate by the use of those resources. This
is why he ran on the list of his arch enemy al Hakim.

Everybody knows that his father was assassinated on order
of Hakim although officially Saddam is being blamed.
Muqtada originally also heavily attacked them including
Ayatollah al Sistani for co-operating with the US declaring
them even unbelievers. This is why they conspired with the
proconsul Bremer to kill him. Actually the US really
attacked him heavily. Under this pressure he backed down
fearing to be extinguished.

It is simply not true that he claims to be against the
constitution. He is fully involved in the political
process. He has 32 MPs and 6 ministers in the government
which is all to the benefit of the occupation.

Then they pushed him to attack the Sunnis in the
prospective to create a Shiite Mahdi state. At this point
many of his followers left him while other people joined
him causing a deep transformation of his movement. By now
also the Iranians have been infiltrating the Mahdi army to
the point that half of its personnel is composed of members
of the Revolutionary Guards.

Up to 2004 Muqtada was on the right side. For example, he
came to Falluja. But after the blows he suffered, in 2005
he moved to the other side. Now it is highly improbable
that he will rectify his line. Sometimes he makes some
words against the sectarian killings admitting however that
his people are involved and even dismissed three of his
leaders. But they continue. Partially he has even lost
control over this militia. If you give weapons and money to
very poor and ignorant people, if you make them strong,
they often believe to be able to take the reigns in their
own hands. They become mafia leaders and work on their own
account.

All this was also possible because of the fact that he is
young, inexperienced and immature so he can be easily
influenced by his advisers, his environment including Iran.

Q: There are more and more reports that Shiite tribes fight
against the government forces. Can you explain this
phenomenon?

With the occupation the Iranian militia in the South and
East went to kill officers of the former Iraqi army
accusing all its enemies to be Baathists. So many people
were assassinated.

Although they all belong to some tribes they were afraid to
defend them. But with the evaporation of the state
structures the tribes, are becoming more and more important
and powerful. Now they cannot accept any more that their
tribesmen are being killed by foreigners whether Iranians
or Iraqis not belonging to the tribe. If they come now to
arrest or kill somebody the tribes mount growing
resistance. There are many examples creating a new
environment, a sentiment which is directed against the
pro-Iranian militias and governmental forces. Recently
there occurred a two day battle near Shuk ash Shuyuk in the
south where they tried to capture a former officer.
Hundreds took up arms to defend him. He fell but not
without changing the climate. He belongs to a very
combative tribe known for its bravery. They subsequently
formed a kind of mutual assistance pact with other tribes
against the pro-Iranian militias including the Mahdi army,
the army and police indicating a general tendency which,
however, remains local and did not yet reach the general
political level.

There is another important cultural factor. The militias
brought alien habits which cannot be accepted by the
tribes. Under the guise of the Mutha marriage they import
prostitution. And they spread the use of hashish.

Q: What about the foreign support to your cause?

We are being used by Arab politicians to reproduce
themselves without offering any real support. They speak of
the Iraqi resistance and about the American crimes in five
star hotels and on the satellite channels. That is all.
They could, however, do a lot, for example raise money or
take to the streets against their governments in order to
close the Iraqi embassies. But they understand that this
would mean to pass the red line of supporting terrorism as
the US puts it. We know from the past about the importance
of material support to the Algerian revolution or to the
Palestinian struggle. Huge sums were raised and still the
ordinary people are ready to pay. But nobody dares to
collect this money for the Iraqi resistance. These leaders
are actually cheating their followers as those suggest that
they would offer help in secret. But I assure you we do not
get any serious help from outside.

Paris, July 2007 Interview conducted by Willi Langthaler

English / Jul 23, 2007

Anti-Imperialist Camp

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Jordianian weekly 's insight into Iraqi resistance groups


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

--------------------------------------------

Detailed report on goals, stands, & activities of Jihadist
groups

On July 17, the Jordanian Islamic weekly Al-Sabil reported:

“First: The Large Jihadist Groups. The Islamic Resistance
Movement (Iraqi Hamas): Identification: It was born from
the womb of the Revolt of the 20th Brigades on 7 Rabi
al-Awwal 1428 Hegira, corresponding to 26 March 2007.

“It was joined by a large part of the military wing of the
brigades or what was then called "Faylaq al-Fath
al-Islami". It does not recognize the political process and
considers it a failure but it believes in "resistant"
political action. There is no organizational relationship
between Iraqi Hamas and Palestinian Hamas but, as its
spokesperson told the Al-Sabil newspaper in May, they
originate from an identical premise.

“Its programme: The movement took the remarkable and
unprecedented step -not taken by any other faction of the
Iraqi resistance -of airing the picture of Political Bureau
spokesman Dr Ahmad Abd-al-Aziz al-Sa'dun on 22 April 2007
on one of the newscasts of the Al-Jazeera satellite channel
when Al-Sa'dun announced the movement's "broad lines of the
political programme". In this public appearance, Al-Sa'dun
said that Iraqi Hamas "is an independent movement and part
of the Islamic resistance current in the ummah.

“It seeks to elevate the ummah in all the economic,
scientific, and economic fields of life and to liberate its
will through legitimate means from all the tools of
external pressure and hegemony". The movement believes in
armed jihad as a tool to expel the occupiers. It calls on
public opinion and international bodies and institutions to
respect this right and to accept its legitimacy to all
nations that are subjected to occupation and to distinguish
between it and the armed crimes that target innocent
civilians.

“It does not permit under any shape or form the use of arms
to resolve the political disputes among the entities of the
Iraqi people or to resolve religious or sectarian or ethnic
disputes. The movement stresses that it is necessary to
continue fighting until the expulsion of the last soldier
of the occupation. It emphasizes that there will be no
negotiating with the enemy except with the agreement of all
the Iraqi jihad and resistance factions and under suitable
conditions and terms that are acceptable to the mujahidin.

“No one whatsoever has the right to speak or to negotiate
under any form except with the frank authorization of the
resistance. The movement believes that it is important to
combine military jihad with political action as two
parallel and complementary tools in order to accomplish its
goals. The movement seeks political coordination and
coordination in the field with all the resistance factions
and forces that are opposed to the occupation and it
succeeded last in merging with JAMI.

“The goals: The movement seeks to liberate Iraq and
preserve the unity of its people and soil in order to
safeguard its Arab and Islamic identity. It also announced
its desire to build a state of institutions and qualified
people that can guarantee the safety and security of the
citizens, their life in dignity, and their right to
employment and freedom of expression as well as other
rights.

“The activities (site and type): The first statement that
the movement issued revealed that its 44 brigades are
widely spread out in the Iraqi territories. It also
disclosed a major presence in Baghdad, Al-Anbar, Diyala,
and Salah-al-Din. "Iraqi Hamas" appeared different from
some other resistance factions. It showed a widespread
presence in the Kurdish regions and made no reference to
the southern regions where other resistance factions -such
as the Islamic Army and others -announced their presence.

“The Islamic Army (one of the three components of the Jihad
and Reform Front): Identification: It is a salafi jihadist
Islamic group that enjoys a wide presence on Iraqi
territories. It became famous for its numerous quality
operations and attracted a large number of members and
officers of the former army. It was formed prior to the
occupation and did not proclaim its presence until near the
end of 2003. It issued its first statement in May 2003.

“Later, it formed a front along with Jaysh al-Mujahidin and
the Ansar al-Sunnah group and called itself the Jihad and
Reform Front. The amir of the Islamic Army says: Jihadist
groups were formed prior to the war by a few months. A few
days before the war, the preparation for the Islamic Army
group had matured more but the proclamation of the name was
delayed for special reasons because we wanted all the
mujahidin to gather under one banner.

“It was joined by the "Kata'ib Mujahidi al-Ta'ifah
al-Mansurah, which was one of the first jihadist groups to
announce its presence. The Army consists of the Office of
the Emirate, the Shura Council, the Political Bureau, and
the military, shari'ah, information, and development
departments. Its military forces are divided into 23
sectors. The Leadership: Statements issued by the
leadership are signed by the "Amir of the Islamic Army in
Iraq".

“Its official spokesman is Dr Ibrahim Yusuf al-Shammari,
its media spokesman is Dr Ali al-Nu'aymi, and its military
commander is Abu-Mushtaq al-Zubaydi. Imad al-Din Abdallah
is in charge of the central information body. The goals:
The goal of the movement is ending the occupation of Iraq
in preparation for the establishment of God's shari'ah even
if after a while.

“The stands: It rejects the current political process in
Iraq and considers the occupying forces as well as "those
that support them and help them" as a legitimate target.
Later, it targeted the police force and the army of the
Al-Ja'fari and Al-Maliki governments in the wake of the
ethnic cleansing campaign that was waged by the two
governments. The Army rejected the national reconciliation
plan and the targeting of innocents. It refrained from
targeting election polling stations during the elections on
the Iraqi arena although it rejects these elections.

“In a statement, the group announced its readiness to hold
negotiations with the occupation forces on conditions that
were set by the official spokesperson. It denied holding
any negotiations with any side. In a statement in the
beginning of May 2006, its spokesman Ibrahim al-Shammari
announced, "Arms are our strategic option to resist against
our enemies". The Army was distinct in that it proclaimed
its political programme.

“It has formed alliances with some jihadist factions and
has issued joint statements with them (the Al-Mujahidin
Army, the Brigades of the 20th Revolution, and the Islamic
Front of the Iraqi Resistance) as part of the so-called
"the quadrilateral coordination council" that was formed
during a meeting of the representatives of these factions
and that was held in the city of Al-Ramadi in the middle of
2005. It has also issued joint statements and carried out
joint operations with the Army of Ansar al-Sunnah and the
Army of al-Mujahidin.

“The activities (site and type): It is considered one of
the largest and most widespread jihadist groups. As its
military communiques indicate, it is spread out in the
Sunni governorates in Babil, Wasit, Al-Samawah, Basra, and
Al-Amarah. It is specialized in the abduction of hostages,
explosive charges, sniping, rocket fire, shooting down of
aircraft, intelligence operations (assassinations), and
clashes. Its most famous operation is the capture of
hostages, French and other hostages, blowing up 10
soldiers, blowing up seven soldiers, blowing up the Al-Saqr
base, the operations of the Baghdad sniper, and the
manufacture of the Abir rocket.

“The Al-Mujahidin Army (one of the three components of the
Jihad and Reform Front): Identification: This is an Islamic
group that emerged for the first time in February 2005. A
few months ago, it merged with the Iraq Hamas movement. The
Leadership: It recently announced the name of Abd-al-Rahman
al-Qaysi as its official spokesperson. Previously, Dr
Ibrahim al-Shammari was its official spokesman as well as
the spokesman of the Islamic Army.

“Goals and Stands: Its goals and policies are similar to
those adopted by the Islamic Army in Iraq. Al-Shammari has
stated that it is the closest group to the Islamic Army.
The activities (site and type): It is spread out in the
Sunni governorates and in Babil and Wasit. It is
characterized by shooting down aircraft, sniping, explosive
charges, and rocket fire.

“The Army of Ansar al-Sunnah (one of the three components
of the Jihad and Reform Front): Identification: It is a
salafi Islamic group that is an extension of the Ansar
al-Islam group. It was formed in September 2003 and
includes in its ranks the Ansar al-Islam group and Arab
fighters. One of the groups that founded it is the Brigades
of the Al-Ta'ifah al-Mansurah mujahidin. It later withdrew
from it and joined the Islamic Army.

“The leadership: The amir of the group is Abu-Abdallah
al-Hasan Bin-Mahmud. Some media sources have reported that
he was a commander in the Ansar al-Islam group. Goals and
Stands: The goal of this group is not confined to the
liberation of Iraq but also extends to "the establishment
of God's religion and the imposition of Islamic shari'ah to
rule over this Islamic land" as its first statement that
was issued on 20 September 2003 said. It rejects the
current political process in Iraq. On 27 June 2006, it
issued a statement rejecting the national reconciliation
plan that was presented by Nuri al-Maliki.

“The activities (site and type): It is primarily active in
northern Iraq and is spread out in the Sunni governorates.
This group targets the US forces, the forces of the
National Guard and police, and the two Kurdish parties and
militias of Jalal Talabani and Mas'ud al-Barzani. It also
targets the oil pipelines in Kirkuk.

“Its most renowned operation is blowing up the US base in
Mosul on 21 December 2004 that killed scores of US soldiers
and Iraqi soldiers, the two bombings of the headquarters of
the two main Kurdish parties in Irbil on 5 February 2004
that killed 107 people, the bombing of the Turkish embassy
building in Baghdad on 24 October 2003, and the killing of
12 Nepalese security guards in August 2004.

“The Brigades of the 20th Revolt: Identification: It
included diverse currents of Muslim Brothers, salafis, and
independents. It enjoyed tribal support and the respect of
the forces opposed to the occupation and was one of the
first groups to be formed to confront the occupation. Its
first statement was issued on 10 August 2003 four months
after the invasion of Iraq. Last March, it split into two
groups: One retained the same name of the Brigades of the
20th Revolt and the second called itself (Iraqi Hamas).

“It is formed of two wings: The first is the political wing
that consists of the political bureau, the fatwa and
Al-Ta'sil department, the jihadist security department, and
the media department. The second wing is the military wing
that consists of the Brigades of the 20th Revolt that is
more known than its political division. The leadership: It
recently announced that Abdallah al-Umari is its official
spokesperson.

“Goals and stands: Its goal is the liberation of Iraq from
foreign political and military occupation so that the sons
of the Iraqi people would rule themselves by themselves. It
calls for the establishment of an independent and sovereign
national government. On 26 May 2006, it issued a statement
along with four other factions -the Islamic Front of the
Iraqi Resistance, the Army of Al-Rashidin, the Jihadist
Leagues of Iraq, and The Sarayah Al-Tamkin -in which it
pledged to continue to raise arms against the occupiers and
to resist against them until the liberation of the country.

“In the same statement, it reiterated its stand "not to
recognize the legitimacy of any government that is formed
under the umbrella of the occupation". On 26 June 2006, it
announced its rejection of Al-Maliki's initiative for
national reconciliation because "this initiative does not
show how to end the occupation" which is "the most
prominent demand of all the factions of the Iraqi
resistance".

“The activities (site and type): It is spread out in the
Sunni provinces and in Babil. Its operations are
characterized by firing mortar and Katyusha rockets,
springing ambushes using light weapons, sniping, and
explosive charges. In a video statement, one of its
brigades claimed downing a British Hercules C130 on 2 March
2005. It has carried out abduction operations of foreigners
working with the US forces, including an American of
Lebanese descent that was the manager of Baghdad Airport on
21 April 2005. It rejects targeting civilians even if they
are foreigners.

“The Army of Al-Rashidin: Identification: It is an Islamic
group that surfaced in 2005. It is formed of several
brigades, such as the Al-Kawthar Brigade, the Firdaws
Brigade, the Battalion of the Soldiers of Al-Rahman, the
Battalion of the Al-Fajr al-Sadiq, the Battalion of Muslim
Bin-Aqil, and others. Each brigade is deployed in a
different region. The leadership: Its statements are signed
by Abu-Walid al-Iraqi, the official in charge of the Media
Division.

“Goals and stands: Its goals, policies, and points of
reference are identical to those of the Islamic Resistance
Movement (The Brigades of the 20th Revolt) The activities
(site and type): It is deployed in most of the Sunni
provinces and carries out distinctive quality operations.
In its military tactics, this group resorts to firing
rockets and mortars, planting explosive charges, and
sniping.

“The Islamic Amirate (the former Al-Mujahidin Shura
Council): Identification: This council was formed in
December 2006. It consists of seven jihadist groups the
most prominent of which is the Al-Qa'idah organization in
the Land of the Two Rivers, the Army of the Al-Ta'ifah
al-Mansurah, the Islamic Jihad Squads, the Al-Ahwal
Brigades, the Ansar al-Tawhid Squads, the "Saraya
al-Ghuraba", and the Army of Ahl Al-Sunnah and Al-Jama'ah
that joined the council two weeks after it was formed. This
council was abolished after the establishment of the
Islamic Amirate in the beginning of 2006.

“The leadership: The amir of the Islamic State is
Abu-Abdallah Rashid al-Baghdadi who is an Iraqi national.
The purpose of proclaiming Al-Baghdadi as the leader of the
council is to give an Iraqi face to the activities of the
Al-Qa'idah organization in Iraq after it was criticized on
this point.

“The Al-Qa'idah Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers:
Identification: It is a salafi jihadist group that began
its operations in Iraq after the occupation under the name
of the "Al-Tawhid and Al-Jihad Group". IN 17 October 2004,
Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi declared his allegiance to Shaykh
Usama Bin-Ladin, the leader of the Al-Qa'idah organization,
and changed the name of his group to the Al-Qa'idah
Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers. The
organization later joined the Al-Mujahidin Shura Council
when it was formed. Its Arab and Muslim fighters
distinguish it from other groups.

“The leadership: The founder of this organization is
Jordanian national Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, whose true name
is Ahmad Fadil Nazzal al-Khalayilah. He left Afghanistan
after it was occupied and went to northern Iraq via Iran.
He settled in the regions that were under the control of
the Ansar al-Islam group. After the occupation of Iraq, he
moved to other regions of Iraq.

“Al-Zarqawi revealed his true face for the first time in a
video clip on 26 April 2006. On 8 June 2006, Al-Zarqawi and
seven of his aides were assassinated in a US air raid on a
house in the township of Habhab north of the city of
Ba'qubah in the province of Diyali. A few days later,
Abu-Hamzah al-Muhajir was proclaimed amir of the
organization. The organization identified some of its
leaders after they were martyred in a series entitled
"Biographies of the Martyrs" that is produced by
Abu-Isma'il al-Muhajir.

“These include Abu-Anas al-Shami, the shari'ah official in
the organization. The statements of the organization are
issued under the name of Abu-Maysarah al-Iraqi, the
official in charge of the media department in the
organization. It appears that this name is the nickname
used by several persons that have assumed this position and
some of whom have been martyred.

“Goals and stands: The organization does not confine itself
to the aim of liberating Iraq but it considers the battle
"in Iraq" as an extension of the global jihadist war
against "crusader America" and the Arab regimes that are
allied with it. It is also an extension of the global
Al-Qa'idah organization. It categorically rejects the
political process and believes that anyone that deals with
the occupation is "a traitor and an apostate" that deserves
to be targeted.

“Thus, this organization considers anyone that participates
in the government or the army or the police force or the
intelligence service as a legitimate target. It recently
proclaimed joining the Islamic State of Iraq that was
proclaimed by the Al-Mujahidin Shura Council. The
activities (site and type): Its activities have focused on
regions in western Iraq, particularly in the Al-Anbar
Province (its provincial seat is Al-Ramadi).

“Following the second Battle of Al-Fallujah in November
2004, it spread in all the provinces and in Babil and
Wasit. It has carried out operations in southern Iraq. It
is renowned for its bombing operations using
explosive-laden vehicles, martyrdom-seeking operations,
assassination, and armed engagements. It has formed the
Umar Brigade targeting the Badr Brigade and the militias.

“The most famous bombing operations that it has carried out
are the bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad in
August 2003; the bombing of the United Nations headquarters
in Baghdad on 19 August 2003 in which 22 persons were
killed including United Nations Representative in Iraq
Sergio De Milo; the bombing in Al-Najaf in 29 August 2003
in which 23 persons were killed including Muhammad Baqir
al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq; the bombing of the headquarters of the
Italian forces in the city of Al-Nasiriyah on 21 November
2003 that led to the killing of 19 Italian military
personnel and 9 Iraqi military personnel; and the hotel
bombings in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

“It also abducted US national Nicholas Burg in April 2004
and slaughtered him the next month. It abducted and later
killed an Egyptian diplomat and an Algerian diplomat in
July 2005 as well as workers in the Moroccan embassy in
October 2005. It also killed Abd-al-Zahrah Uthman Muhammad,
also known as Izz-al-Din Salim, the rotating president of
the Provisional Governing Council, in a booby-trapped car
near the Green Zone in Baghdad on 17 May 2004.

“The Salah-al-Din Brigades (The Islamic Front of the Iraqi
Resistance-JAMI): Identification: An Islamic jihadist group
with the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Iraq as its point
of reference. It proclaimed its existence in a statement
that was issued on 28 May 2004. It has a political bureau
and its military wing is the Brigades of Salah al-Din
al-Ayyubi. It announced its joining Iraqi Hamas two months
ago.

“Goals and stands: It rejects the political process in Iraq
and has called on its supporters to boycott the elections.
It opposes the use of booby-trapped vehicles inside the
cities or the slaughtering of hostages or harming civilian
foreigners or hitting civilian installations or targeting
any Iraqi national even if he is a member of the police of
the National Guard. Activities (site and type): It is
spread out in most of the Sunni provinces. It is
characterized for the firing of rockets and planting
explosive charges. Second: Other resistance factions that
are smaller than the first group.

1. “The Al-Jama'ah al-salafiya al-mujahidah

2. “Jaysh al-Fatihin

3. “Al-Harakah al-Islamiyah li Mujahidi al-Iraq

4. “Asa'ib al-Iraq al-Jihadiyah

5. “The Abu-al-Siddiq Brigades (formerly Al-Salafi
Brigades)

“Third: Groups that surfaced and later disappeared after
merging with the larger groups or after becoming extinct
and other groups that surfaced recently and most of which
split off from other groups: 1. The Army of Al-Qa'qa; 2.
The Army of Muhammad al-Fatih; 3. The Army of the Muslims;
4. The Empowerment Squads; 5. The Call and Steadfastness
Squads; 6. The Squads of Muslim Wrath; 7. The Vengeance
Brigades; 8. The Brigades of the Mujahidin of the
Al-Mansurah Sect.”

- Newspaper - Middle East, Middle East

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Iraqi resistance form political alliance


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


Iraq's new coalition: the insurgents


Seumas Milne in Damascus
Wednesday July 18, 2007
Guardian Unlimited


Seven of the most important Sunni-led insurgent
organisations fighting the US occupation in Iraq have
agreed to form a public political alliance with the aim of
preparing for negotiations in advance of an American
withdrawal, their leaders have told the Guardian.

In their first interview with the western media since the
US-British invasion of 2003, leaders of three of the
insurgent groups - responsible for thousands of attacks
against US and Iraqi armed forces and police - made clear
that they would continue their armed resistance until all
foreign troops were withdrawn from Iraq, and denounced
al-Qaida for sectarian killings and suicide bombings
against civilians.

Speaking in Damascus, the spokesmen for the three groups -
the 1920 Revolution Brigades, Ansar al-Sunna and Iraqi
Hamas - said they planned to hold a congress to launch a
united front within the next few weeks and appealed to Arab
governments, other governments and the UN to help them
establish a permanent political presence outside Iraq.

Abu Ahmad, spokesman for Iraqi Hamas said: "Peaceful
resistance will not end the occupation. The US made clear
that it intended to stay for many decades. Now it is a
common view in the resistance that they will start to
withdraw within a year. "

The move represents a dramatic change of strategy for the
mainstream Iraqi insurgency, whose leadership has remained
shadowy and has largely restricted communication with the
outside world to brief statements on the internet and to
the Arabic media.

The last three months have been the bloodiest for US
forces, with 331 deaths and 2,029 wounded, as the
28,000-strong "surge" in troop numbers exposes them to more
attacks; the death toll inflicted by insurgents is widely
recognised as having been a key factor in the growing
political pressure in Washington for withdrawal from Iraq.

Leaders of the three groups - who did not use their real
names in the interview - said the new front, which brings
together all the main Sunni-based armed organisations
except al-Qaida and the Ba'athists, has agreed the main
planks of a joint political programme, including a
commitment to free Iraq from all foreign troops, rejection
of any cooperation with parties involved in the political
institutions set up under the occupation, and a declaration
that all decisions and agreements made by the US occupation
and Iraqi government are null and void.

The aim of the alliance - which includes a range of
Islamist and nationalist-leaning groups and is currently
called the Political Office for the Iraqi Resistance - is
to link up with other anti-occupation groups in Iraq to
negotiate with the Americans in anticipation of an early US
withdrawal. The programme envisages a temporary
technocratic government to run the country during a
transition period until free elections can be held.

The insurgent groups deny support from any foreign
government, including Syria, but claim they have been
offered funding and arms from Iran and rejected it because
of suspicion of Iranian motives. They say they have been
under pressure from Saudi Arabia and Turkey to unite and
claimed to have had indirect contacts with France about
creating the conditions for establishing a political
presence outside Iraq.

"We are the only resistance movement in modern history
which has received no help or support from any other
country," Abdallah Suleiman Omary, head of the political
department of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, told the
Guardian. "The reason is we are fighting America."

Central to the new alliance - which also includes the
powerful Jaish al-Islami, Jami (the Iraqi Resistance
Islamic Front), Jaish al-Mujahideen and Jaish al-Rashideen
- is opposition to the murderous sectarianism that has
gripped Iraq under occupation, and the role of al-Qaida in
particular.

All three Sunni-based resistance leaders say they are
acutely aware of the threat posed by sectarian division to
the future of Iraq and emphasised the importance of working
with Shia groups - but rejected any link with the Shia
militia and parties because of their participation in the
political institutions set up by the Americans and their
role in sectarian killings.

Abd al-Rahman al-Zubeidy, political spokesman of Ansar
al-Sunna, a salafist (purist Islamic) group with a
particularly violent reputation in Iraq, said his
organisation had split over relations with al-Qaida, whose
members were mostly Iraqi, but its leaders largely
foreigners.

"Resistance isn't just about killing Americans without any
aims or goals. Our people have come to hate al-Qaida, which
gives the impression to the outside world that the
resistance in Iraq are terrorists. We are against
indiscriminate killing, fighting should be concentrated
only on the enemy," he said.

He added: "A great gap has opened up between Sunni and Shia
under the occupation and al-Qaida has contributed to that."

Thursday, 12 July 2007

The onus is on British government, and not on Muslim community

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

--------------------------------------------

Al-AHRAM WEEKLY

Terror Alert

The onus is on British government, and not on
the Muslim community, writes Sukant Chandan from London

Two years on from the 7 July 2005 attacks in London, the
British state has failed to address the root causes of
terrorist attacks in the West -- military aggression
against the Arab and Islamic world. Instead of a
recognition of the attacks on London and Glasgow as
blowback from Britain's disastrous policies vis-à-vis Iraq,
Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine, we are seeing a
veritable trial by media against the Muslim community. It
is demanded that the community answer for the actions of a
few attackers, all the while the majority of Muslim
organisations go further onto the defensive in the face of
Islamophobic hysteria.

With the exception of a few dissenting voices like Seamus
Milne's in a Guardian article, the mainstream media in
Britain would like to focus on anything except the elephant
in the room that they are all ignoring: the decimation of
Iraq by the occupation forces that is the source of radical
Islamist rage against the West. The media would rather
blame the British-Muslim community, accusing them of
collective guilt for the ideology and actions of the
attackers.

This is having the inevitable effect of provoking an
increase in attacks on Muslims or anyone who might look
like one. Thus one can see a tragic pattern which follows
every terrorist attack in Britain or against the West: the
Muslim community is hounded by the media and political
elite as the enemy within who share the evil ideology of
Islam with the terrorists they are harbouring amongst them,
and then there is an alarming rise in reported Islamophobic
attacks.

Particular incredulity has been focussed on the fact that
the attackers were doctors or working in the National
Health Service. The only person charged so far for the
attacks is Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdullah arrested at Glasgow
airport, and one of his former friends has been reported as
saying that his possible motives are his opposition to the
occupation of Iraq, the death of one of his close friends
by an Iraqi death- squad, and his support of former
Al-Qaeda strong-man in Iraq, Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi. These
reports inadvertently highlight the glaringly obvious
connections between the responsibility of Britain and the
US for the developments in Iraq, and the extremist
reactions that they have inspired.

The media, however, has preferred to skirt the obvious
connections, failing to investigate them and instead
filling columns and TV reports with sensational stories of
the "doctors plot" and reports that people are cancelling
appointments with doctors with Muslim names. The argument
circulating is that how can intelligent, professional,
family-oriented people carry out actions that are usually
the results of impressionable and alienated Muslim youth
from poor communities blindly following a radical
opportunist posing as a preacher?

Clive Cookson in the Financial Times pointed out that it
should come as no surprise that medical experts are
involved in radical insurgencies. He points to examples
from the communist Che Guevara, the Palestinian Marxist
leader George Habash and the Al-Qaeda second-in-command
Ayman El-Zawahiri, proving that Islamic radicals, like
their secular counterparts, are often from educated, middle
and upper class backgrounds. A study of 172 Al-Qaeda
terrorists conducted four years ago by Marc Sageman, a
former CIA case officer in Pakistan, found that 90 per cent
came from a relatively stable and secure background.

Journalists and pundits have failed to see that, while it
is no justification for the attacks, the individuals
involved in the attacks by dint of their profession have a
insight and greater exposure into the humanitarian disaster
that is unfolding in Iraq, and in light of this may
possibly be more disturbed by it than most, leading perhaps
to desperate and extreme action.

A recent editorial in the New York Times demanded that the
Bush administration conduct the swiftest possible
withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The editorial argued
that the occupation of Iraq is exacerbating the
humanitarian and security situation in the region and
beyond. Why is it that the leading US newspaper is more
strident in addressing the root cause of the problem of the
Middle East than its British counterparts are? Is it
because the US has lost more than Britain in terms of its
international standing and number of troops killed and
injured in Iraq? If this is the case, the message is that
Britain will have to suffer many more deaths of its
soldiers and risk further attacks at home before it sees
that the only solution to its security problem is
withdrawal from both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the meantime in Britain, Muslim organisations and the
Muslim community in general have been held responsible by
the government and most of the mainstream media for not
doing enough to expose individuals who might carry out
attacks and eradicate the ideology that motivates them.
Muslim organisations have been quick to distance themselves
from these attacks in an unprecedented media campaign to
re-assure the British public.

This is understandable as they do not want the Muslim
community in Britain to suffer any further, and there is
perceptible relief that the attackers are not "homegrown"
which would have given more ammunition for elements in the
British state and media to turn the screws on the
community. Their defensiveness however has the potential of
backfiring. Some Muslims are already voicing their
frustration of having to constantly emphasise their
opposition to terrorist attacks and argue that only those
who carry out attacks should be made to answer for their
actions. If the concerted efforts of Muslim organisations
in proving themselves a law-abiding community fail to
affect government policy towards Muslims in Britain and in
the Middle East, some sections of the Muslim youth may go
further underground in pursuit of their grievances.

The British government's present security proposals
following the attacks can only alienate the Muslim
community further. Prime Minister Gordan Brown is talking
of introducing stricter vetting processes for Muslim and
Arab medical staff coming to Britain for work, and is
introducing a string of new anti-terror measures to
parliament. These include the assumption of guilt if a
suspect refuses to answer questions in post-charge
interviews. The only difference from former premiere Tony
Blair is that Brown is deciding to go on a less hasty and
controversial course of action, and intends to create a
cross-party consensus for his proposals. But what Brown
lacks in bite, the media is making up for in its bark.

There has been plenty of chatter in the media about
encouraging the population to spy on the Muslim community.
This is nothing new as the Muslim community has in recent
years already been put under pressure to spy on itself, and
last year the Department of Education asked universities to
spy on Asian-looking students to counter Islamic
radicalisation on campuses. The fact remains that all the
security measures of the last seven years have not stopped
attacks against Britain. In all truth the Muslim community
is unlikely to do very much about extremist elements in its
own ranks; the onus lies with the British government to do
something about its responsibility for this mess.

The Labour government likes to point to the Irish peace
process as one of its greatest achievements of the last ten
years. The British government seems to forget some of the
parallels and lessons that this process holds for British
policy towards Muslims at home and the Middle East. The
Irish peace process showed the willingness of the British
government to de- criminalise and negotiate with those it
called terrorists in Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican
Army (IRA), and promised in the Good Friday Agreement a
timetable for withdrawal from its military occupation of
Northern Ireland. It is leadership on these types of issues
that is needed if a peace process is to be initiated
between the British government, independence movements in
Iraq and Afghanistan, and people -- Muslims and non-Muslims
-- in Britain. The longer that this leadership is lacking,
the more militants will interpret the lessons of the Irish
peace process as meaning that the British government will
only re-think its policies when Britain is brought to its
knees by bombing its financial and political centres, as
happened in the case of the 1974-1997 IRA campaign against
the British mainland.

Only in Scotland with the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party
do we find anything close to the reasoned leadership that
is so desperately required. The Scottish Assembly's first
minister, SNP's Alex Salmond, has warned against knee jerk
security reactions to the attacks, saying that there is
nothing in the investigations into the attacks to suggest
that the detention of terror suspects should be increased
from 28 days to 90 days, as has been suggested by Blair and
Brown. SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon has distanced
herself from the criminalisation of the Muslim community
that is emanating from England, and expressed fears that
Scotland will be dragged into further problems as a result
of policies from London. Muslim organisations in Scotland
are appreciative of this type of leadership, and are able
to operate more assertively as a result. On a political
discussion show "Scotland after the bomb" one could see a
general consensus around the defence of the Muslim
community from criminalisation and calling for troops to be
withdrawn from Iraq, and the panelist and human rights
lawyer Aamer Anwar said that a stealth bomber in Iraq is
the moral equivalent of a suicide bomber in Scotland, to a
round of applause and some gasps.

On the street, anti-Muslim sentiment is rife in Scotland as
the attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned shops have shown,
but unlike in England where the anti-war movement is
against and outside of the establishment, in Scotland the
anti-war is part of the establishment as the three main
parties in the governing coalition -- the SNP, Liberals,
Democrats and Greens -- are all opposed to the occupation
of Iraq. As a result the Scottish political response to the
London-Glasgow attacks has been very different from that in
England.

While the British media seem obsessed by the rhetorical
question of how highly qualified professional medical staff
can be behind the attacks on London and Glasgow, a question
that could equally be posed is how one of Europe's first
democracies could have led an illegal war of aggression
which has brought a once relatively developed Middle
Eastern country into an abyss of destruction. So far the
public debate is far removed from these issues and grossly
skewed towards blaming Muslims and their ideology.

The Muslim community, unlike the British government, is
powerless to effectively address the underlying causes for
terror attacks against Britain. What is needed from the
government is some kind of recognition of, and practical
action to undo, its failed policies in Iraq. This is the
first step towards reversing the cycle of prejudice, war
and violence which is unfolding. Unfortunately the present
strategies of the British media and state will only
accelerate this cycle of violence, in which the victims are
innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Britain.

© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved

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
Mashal.

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
reputation.

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
anyone.

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
region.

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
Return.

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
it.

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

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
Fatah.

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
later…

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
that.

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.
[back]

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.
[back]

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]



14.
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.
[back]



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.”
[back]



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




Printer-friendly format



Article printed from :
http://conflictsforum.org



URL to article:
http://conflictsforum.org/2007/hamas-briefing/



Click
here to print.