Friday, December 11, 2015

11-Dec-15: The price of the Shalit Deal and the countries that help it keep rising

Mutual admiration society: Hamas' Haniye, Turkey's Erdogan
[Image Source]
It was always clear that the release of 1,027 convicted and imprisoned Arab terrorists from Israeli jails in the ill-conceived Shalit Deal would lead to, and has in fact caused, the deaths of numerous innocent Israeli victims.

What is less clear even now is the enabling role provided by certain countries in empowering a cohort of Shalit Deal graduates to emerge as key figures in a campaign of anti-Israel terrorism by remote control. The note below focuses on just four: Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Malaysia.

A small flurry of media attention in the past day indicates that the worst of the deadly consequences of the 2011 Shalit Deal are still ahead:
Palestinian prisoners released and deported to Gaza, Turkey, and Qatar as part of the Shalit deal are organizing their own terrorist cells in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to a report on Thursday. The deported prisoners, who are members of Hamas’ military wing, are providing guidance and funds to these cells, Hamas sources told Ynet...  The operation is being run by senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri, who is based in Turkey... The exiled Hamas members also have created their own cells in the West Bank to incite, protest and clash with Israeli security forces... The sources said, according to the report, that the Hamas leadership in Gaza is pushing for suicide bomb attacks to be carried out in the West Bank and east Jerusalem...  Israeli officials are convinced that Hamas will make every effort to execute a large-scale attack by using whatever means are available to its men in the field. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior figure in Hamas' political bureau, told an Islamist-affiliated web site in Gaza in October that he was hopeful the current violence would escalate into "an armed intifada." ["Freed Hamas prisoners from Schalit deal forming independent terror cells, says report", Jerusalem Post, December 10, 2015]
Al-Zahar, Hamas foreign minister [Image Source: Reuters]
(We would add that Mahmoud al-Zahar, mentioned above, is more than just a senior Hamas figure. He's usually identified as Hamas' foreign minister in the media. Not being part of Hamas' armed "wing" doesn't prevent him from saying he is hopeful the violence now happening here daily will evolve into "an armed intifada".)

Quoted in the little-noticed Jerusalem Post article, the Ynet report written by Elior Levy, describes a shadow organization, largely independent of both Fatah and Hamas and with an intense focus on doing terror. Members of its leadership, taking advantage of the unjustified freedom handed to them via the government of Israel and the extortion made possible by the Shalit transaction
are using the connections they made in the villages and cities of the West Bank and East Jerusalem before they were arrested. They each operate separately, working with a contact in the territories, each in a different area. The expelled prisoners provide their contacts in the territories with funding and guidance, while the contacts form the cells. The fact the communication between the expelled prisoners and their contact in the West Bank is done directly makes these military cells decentralized and compartmentalized. These operations are led and financed by the head of the Hamas military wing's West Bank Division, Saleh al-Arouri, who is located in Turkey... According to the Hamas source, an escalation of the situation in the West Bank will provide the terror organization with a way out of the crisis it faces in the Gaza Strip. [Ynet, December 10, 2015] 
This emerging branch of Palestinian Arab terror has been evident for some time. The existence of an amorphous terror structure operating from Judea and Samaria and led by released Palestinian Arab prisoners was documented this past summer in a monograph [here] published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, directed by Dr. Reuven Erlich (it's often called ITIC). The report focuses on three men, all sentenced by Israeli courts to long prison terms for terror, all freed and all currently engaged in plotting fresh murders from the safety of other countries. Two were released in the Shalit Deal; the third was released from prison in 2010 and took an active, perhaps key, role in the Shalit negotiations.
  • Turkey-based Saleh Mohammed Suleiman Al-Arouri is a founder of Hamas' so-called military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. He spent 18 years behind Israeli bars until being freed in the year before the Shalit Deal. He was then deported to Jordan, moving on from there to Syria from where he had a hand in the Shalit negotiations. When Hamas abandoned Damascus, he moved on to Turkey. He's based there now as the person in charge of Hamas terrorist operations in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. He's also a member of the Hamas political bureau. He claimed credit in a public speech last year [here] for the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens. (Hamas' strategy of having ostensibly separate political and military "wings" aims to shield its terror-spouting leaders from from responsibility for Hamas terrorism - a shabby form of plausible deniability that confers fig-leaf protection for reporters and politicians seeking a cost-free engagement with the blood-lusting Islamist terrorists.) 
  • Hussam Atef Badran, released in the Shalit Deal, living and operating freely in Qatar from where he often appears in global news media as Hamas spokesman. An Islamist terror insider, he has responsibilities in the fields of terrorist network management and recruitment in Judea and Samaria. ITIC says he also spends terror-related time in Turkey.
  • Ahmed al-Najjar, convicted for the terror-related shooting murders of six Israelis, was also released in the 2011 Shalit Deal. He holds US citizenship, according to ITIC quoting an Arabic-language report from March 19, 2011 on the site, shortly before being let loose. Deported to the Gaza Strip, he moved on to Jordan from where he oversees terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria. The murder of Malachi Rosenfeld in July 2015 ["19-Aug-15: The road to Malachi's death and the decisions that made it possible"] is one of them. 
Hussam Badran, Hamas's Qatar-based spokesman, appearing on
Turkey's TRT television, June 2014 [Image Source]
Many of our readers live in countries that have ongoing diplomatic and friendly ties with the states that host these terrorists and their operations. ITIC describes how those states play an invaluable role in anti-Israel terror:
Communication between the handlers and the operatives in Judea and Samaria is mainly by phone or via the Internet. Money transfers are performed by utilizing people who hold an entry permit into Israel (for example, for medical treatment) and the Palestinian Authority. In some cases, meetings are held outside Judea and Samaria by means of a courier who goes abroad. In the ITIC’s assessment, Turkey and Jordan are the two countries of choice for these meetings. This is due to their geographical proximity to Judea and Samaria and the relative ease with which one can create a suitable cover story in order to travel to them. [ITIC Report, August 4, 2015 - page 7]
Turkey also provides a congenial setting for field training of freshly-recruited terrorists
Saleh al-Arouri and additional operatives at the military headquarters in Turkey are also engaged in training operatives recruited by Hamas. Some of the terrorist operatives exposed in Judea and Samaria in August and September 2014 had received training in Turkey on planning military operations and methods for carrying out attacks against targets in Israeli territory, in Judea and Samaria, and abroad. After completing their military training, the recruits were given various tasks and assigned to squads by senior Hamas officials in Turkey... [ITIC Report, August 4, 2015 - page 11]
We noted in a blog post a year ago ["27-Nov-14: Hamas terrorist ring is busted; Israel says the handlers operate from Turkey; Qatar is involved"] that several bloody attacks - along with even more that were thwarted thanks to good Israeli intelligence - would probably have been labeled "lone wolf" terrorism if not for the now-exposed role, mostly ignored outside Israel, of these terror manipulators working unhindered from Jordan, Qatar and Turkey.

And before anyone makes holiday plans for Turkey in particular, here's a reminder of some thoughts we shared here some months ago? ["25-Feb-15: Talking Turkey on terror"]

ITIC has collected evidence that Malaysia provides the Hamas terrorists with covert support (though Malaysian sources deny this), partly based on things the Shin Bet has said. Wasim Qawasmeh, a resident of Hebron and one of numerous Qawasmehs to be mentioned in this blog over the years for their passion for murdering Jews, was recruited by Hamas in Malaysia [details here], as were numerous other Palestinian Arabs studying there. Other reports have mentioned Palestinian Arabs having undergone hang glider training in Malaysia, intended to be applied to terrorist attacks against Israelis.

When we wrote about Malaysia here some months back ["28-Apr-15: In Malaysia, years of anti-semitic exhortations along the path to anti-Israel terror"] we referred to the nauseating incitement that has emanated at intervals from the country's prominent, though it has to be said somewhat bizarre, former leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He was his country's prime minister for 22 years between 1981 and 2002:
"I am glad to be labelled anti-Semitic... How can I be otherwise, when the Jews who so often talk of the horrors they suffered during the Holocaust show the same Nazi cruelty and hard-heartedness towards not just their enemies but even towards their allies should any try to stop the senseless killing of their Palestinian enemies..."
And this from Mahathir's speech to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit in 2003, published in The Malaysian Insider:
"[T]he Nazis killed six million Jews out of 12 million (during the Holocaust). But today,the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them"... adding this time that any sympathy accorded to the victims of the Holocaust was "wasted and misplaced".
Worth noting that Malaysia currently occupies one of the non-permanent-member seats on the
United Nations Security Council.

We plan to come back to the roles of Jordan and Qatar shortly.

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