Red Cross: Persecution of Christians “outside our area of expertise” (& other items)

November 03, 2005

* Revealed in court: Attempt in 2002 to poison Israeli water supply with cyanide
* UN resolution on Holocaust Day not “unanimous” as claimed
* Prince Charles to “Plead the case for Islam”
* Animated Iranian film for children promotes suicide attacks

[Most of the items below are updates to other recent items on this list.]

 

CONTENTS

1. Confirmed: Iran purges senior ambassadors
2. Animated Iranian film for children promotes suicide attacks
3. David Hatuel to marry again and build a new family
4. UN resolution on Holocaust Day not “unanimous”
5. Five Israelis wounded yesterday by Qassam rockets
6. Syrian media glorifies last week’s Hadera suicide bombing
7. Red Cross: Persecution of Christians “outside our area of expertise”
8. Special New Statesman issue on Israel
9. Palestinians shoot collaborators in the legs
10. Revealed in court: Attempt in 2002 to poison Israeli water supply with cyanide
11. Pakistani delegation to visit Israel
12. Archbishop of Canterbury omits Jews in London memorial speech
13. Prince Charles to “Plead the case for Islam”
14. “Confrontation is a good thing” (By Mark Steyn, Daily Telegraph, Nov. 1, 2005)
15. “Mideast training program backfires” (San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 14, 2005)

 



[Note by Tom Gross]

CONFIRMED: IRAN PURGES SENIOR AMBASSADORS

The note I attached to Tuesday’s dispatch has now been confirmed by the mainstream media. Yesterday it was reported by the BBC, The Times of London, The Guardian, and others, that 40 Iranian envoys and other senior diplomats have been sacked or reassigned in the largest diplomatic shake-up since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Four of the regime’s most senior ambassadors – from the UK, France, Germany, and at the UN – have all been recalled and are to be replaced. These ambassadors had been closely involved in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme, and even though they are hardline, they were considered “too liberal” by Iran’s new extremist president.

(It has also been revaled that Diana Butto, a legal adviser to the Palestinian Authority on “peace negotiations,” was in Tehran last week during “The World Without Zionism” conference. Butto, who was pictured by the Islamic Republic News Agency on October 28, is a favorite “moderate” Palestinian spokesperson and is often invited as a guest commentator by BBC World and CNN International.)

ANIMATED IRANIAN FILM FOR CHILDREN PROMOTES SUICIDE ATTACKS

“We must prevent the barbaric Zionist murdering of our people” shouts “Jassem” in a new Iranian animated movie that encourages Iranian children to carry out suicide attacks against Israelis. Broadcast on IRIB 3 TV on October 28, 2005, at 8am Iranian time (for children’s morning TV), the lead character “Abd Al-Rahman” sees his father, mother and brother murdered by an Israeli soldier named “Ariel” known for his “huge body”.

“Al-Rahman” declares “I will avenge the blood of my family, even if I am killed doing so.” He then joins “Jassem” who “has been in a (sic) resistance group for some years now, fighting the Israelis.”

In the final scene “Al-Rahman” pulls grenade pins and leaps onto a truck of Israeli soldiers killing himself and those inside the truck. Then a young Palestinian boy takes the keffiyeh of “Al-Rahman” and walks off into the sunset.

DAVID HATUEL TO MARRY AGAIN AND BUILD A NEW FAMILY

In the note above about the Iranian cartoon, “Abd Al-Rahman” takes revenge for the death of his family. In stark contrast, David Hatuel, whose pregnant wife and four young daughters (aged 11, 9, 7, 2) were murdered in a particularly brutal terrorist attack in May 2004 carried out “proudly” (according to their spokesperson) by Nobel Peace Prize winner’s Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction, announced this week his engagement to Limor Shem Tov. (For more on these killings please see the dispatch, “Thousands mourn slain mother, girls” (May 3, 2004).)

UN RESOLUTION ON HOLOCAUST DAY NOT “UNANIMOUS”

A total of 104 countries sponsored the resolution to make January 27 the annual international day of commemoration to honor Holocaust victims (as mentioned in my last dispatch). Yet the UN General Assembly comprises 191 United Nations member states.

While this resolution is encouraging some of the coverage has been misleading. For example, the leading Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, claimed in its headline, and for two days at the top of the internet home page, that the “UN unanimously declares an international Holocaust Day”.

Several large countries did not endorse this resolution and the mainstream press has not drawn attention to this. (Because a majority co-sponsored the resolution it was passed without it being brought to a vote.)

Much of the mainstream media has given very little attention to the states that did not back the resolution or those that did so grudgingly. Most Muslim countries did not support the resolution. Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia said they supported the resolution but warned that atrocities against Christians and Muslims also deserve attention.

Following the vote, Egypt’s ambassador to the UN, Maged Abdelaziz, said “We believe no one should have the monopoly on suffering”.

Israel’s best-selling newspaper Yediot Ahronot, in its editorial today, hails the UN General Assembly decision to establish an international Holocaust Remembrance Day as “an achievement for all of humanity, not just the Jews.”

FIVE ISRAELIS LIGHTLY WOUNDED YESTERDAY BY QASSAM ROCKETS

Completely ignored by the media outside Israel today, is the news that five Israelis were wounded by three Qassam rockets fired yesterday at the Netiv Ha’asarah, a small town located 9 km north of Gaza. In July, a woman from this community was killed by a Qassam rocket. (By contrast, Reuters, ABCnews.com, the BBC and many other international newswires are, at the present time, leading with the headline “Israeli troops wound West Bank teenager.”)

A 20-year old Israeli soldier was also shot dead by Palestinian gunmen yesterday.

Also yesterday evening, a 16-year old Palestinian from Ramallah stabbed a young Israeli woman in west Jerusalem. After his arrest, he told police that he came to the capital to “hurt Jews.”

SYRIAN MEDIA GLORIFIES LAST WEEK’S HADERA SUICIDE BOMBING

“One of the young heroes [of Palestine] took his life in his hands and stormed a group of Israeli war-criminal occupiers in the settlement of Hadera” is how Fayiz Qandil, a commentator for Radio Damascus, described last week’s suicide bomb attack on the food and vegetable market in Hadera.

Radio Damascus described the northern Israeli coastal town of Hadera as “the Jewish-Zionist settlement city”.

Five Israeli civilians were murdered in the attack, including one Israeli-Arab, and dozens injured. The Syrian media, controlled by the Assad regime, continues to justify terrorist activity and support terrorist organizations

RED CROSS: PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS “OUTSIDE OUR AREA OF EXPERTISE”

As many of you may know – or perhaps not because the mainstream liberal press has ignored these developments of the last two weeks – Christians have been attacked in Egypt, resulting in at least three deaths outside a Coptic church in Alexandria. A nun was also stabbed

Copts are the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. They make up around 10 per cent of Egypt’s nearly 74 million people. Christian-Muslim tensions erupt violently at least once a year. In 2000, 23 people, most of them Christians, were killed in the southern village of el-Kusheh in clashes sparked by an argument between a Muslim customer and a Coptic Christian shopkeeper.

Below is correspondence from this week about the latest attacks on Christians, between a British member of this email list and the Red Cross (British branch), an organization which among other things regularly raises money for Muslims worldwide, including Palestinians and Red Crescent Societies around the world.


From: [A British member of this list]
To: Information@redcross.org.uk
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 6:33 PM
Subject: Re: Persecution of Christians website

Thank you for your email. I am sorry to hear that the persecution of Christians falls outside your area of expertise. RH


From: Information@redcross.org.uk
To: [A British member of this list]
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Subject: Re: Persecution of Christians website
Many thanks for your enquiry and interest in the British Red Cross.

I regret that due to the high level of interest in the charitable work of the Red Cross we are unable to respond to information requests which fall outside our area of expertise.

The British Red Cross gives skilled and impartial care to people in need and crisis – at home and abroad, in peace and war. For further information about our work please visit our website: redcross.org.uk

Many thanks,
Information Resources
British Red Cross Society
www.redcross.org.uk


From: [A British member of this list]
Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 4:54 PM
To: Information@redcross.org.uk
Subject: Persecution of Christians website

Please note this website. http://mychristianblood.blogspirit.com/ It shows attacks on Christian communities, with the question of why these events are not more widely reported.

MAGEN DAVID ADOM TO RECEIVE RECOGNITION FROM INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS

Magen David Adom (meaning Red Shield of David), Israel’s emergency medical, health, blood and disaster services, is to receive an invitation to be ratified as a life-saving organization-member of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey told Silvan Shalom, the Israeli Foreign Minister, that the invitation will be made at conference in Geneva in December. This follows a diplomatic struggle lasting many years to gain recognition. 192 countries are to be invited to the conference, including the Vatican.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who plans to visit Israel next week in a trip that may help strengthen her support among Jews in New York before she faces re-election next year, is set to meet with officials from the Magen David Adom. Since joining the Senate, she has drawn up legislation calling on the International Committee of the Red Cross to recognize the Israeli organization. This pressure may be one of the reasons the Swiss are finally now acting to include Israel.

SPECIAL NEW STATESMAN ISSUE ON ISRAEL

I mentioned in the dispatch titled “Poem praising killing of Jews included in new UK national children’s poetry book” (October 25, 2005), that the leading British leftist magazine, the New Statesman, was planning to bring out a special Israel issue. That issue is now out, and is titled “Israel: everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask.”

It follows the vaguely pro-Israel article by Nick Cohen that the New Statesman published recently and was included in the dispatch on this list titled “Don’t be silly, Ann, there’s no racism on the left” (October 11, 2005).

Included in this new “special issue” are articles by anti-Zionist Israeli professor Avi Shlaim (called “Sharon’s iron wall”), a polemic by Robert Fisk, famous for his anti-Israel, anti-American tirades in The Independent, and a piece by Guardian journalist Chris McGreal, titled “Israel: the view from the bus.”

And Mario Vargas Llosa, the leading South American novelist and playwright, writes (in a piece titled on “Democracy and Demons”) that Israel is a “colonial country.”

A previous dispatch on this list, titled “The New Statesman’s racist slur” (January 11, 2002), reported on an edition of the magazine that questioned whether there is an all-powerful, sinister Zionist lobby and concluded that there is one. The magazine continues to be highly respected among some.

BARAK CALLS FOR DISENGAGEMENT FROM THE WEST BANK

In an interview with Bloomberg, the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, has called for Israel to unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank. Barak had made virtually the same offer to Yasser Arafat in 2000 but now he called for a three-year period in which to implement it.

Since he said that Israel has no negotiating partner now or in the foreseeable future, Barak urged the move be done unilaterally, to “take our destiny into our own hands”.

PALESTINIANS SHOOT COLLABORATORS IN THE LEGS

Last week Palestinian terrorists released two men after holding them in captivity for a week. Both men were accused of collaborating with Israel. Before they were released they were each shot in their legs by their captors.

James Taranto, of Best of the Web, pointed out that “this just goes to show how much progress the Palestinians have made. We’re old enough to remember the dark old days when they’d shoot ‘collaborators’ to death.”

On Sunday morning an Israeli child was lightly injured when stones were thrown at his family’s vehicle west of Ramallah.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav also commented this week that the “greatest threat for Palestinians is not Israel, but Palestinian terror groups that prevent them from moving forward.”

REVEALED IN COURT: TERRORIST BEHIND 2002 HOTEL BOMBING HAD CYANIDE TO POISON WATER SUPPLY

At the trial yesterday of Abbas A-Sayyid, the Hamas member charged with planning the suicide bombing of Netanya’s Park Hotel during Passover in 2002 and a shopping mall in 2001, it was revealed that A-Sayyid had obtained cyanide from a supporter in Jordan and had planned to poison Israel’s water supply. Thirty-five people were murdered and dozens injured in the two attacks for which A-Sayyid is on trial.

PAKISTANI DELEGATION TO VISIT ISRAEL

A 200-strong Pakistani delegation of businessmen, politicians, religious leaders and retired generals are due to visit Israel this month. This is the latest in a series of developments signaling warmer relations between Israel and Pakistan. For more on this, see the dispatch titled “President Musharraf to U.S. Jews: ‘Pakistan has no direct conflict with Israel’” (September 19, 2005).

PRINCE CHARLES TO “PLEAD THE CASE FOR ISLAM”

According to the Daily Telegraph in London, Prince Charles will “plead the case for Islam” during his official visit to the United States this week. The Prince will tell Americans that they have been too intolerant of Islam since 9/11, and that the U.S. is “too confrontational” towards Muslim nations. The Prince’s eight-day tour of the U.S. includes lunch and dinner with President Bush and the First Lady.

President Bush had actually sent a greeting card to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for the Aid el-Fitr holiday today marking the end of Ramadan. It is not clear that Prince Charles did.

I attach below a summary of an article by Mark Steyn, who suggests some examples of the non-confrontational approach the Prince can show to President Bush.

ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY OMITS JEWS IN 7/7 MEMORIAL SPEECH

A memorial service was held on Tuesday at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London for the victims of the July terror attacks. The multi-faith remembrance service was attended by the Queen and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

As part of the service the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan William, gave a sermon. In his first paragraph he said “It does not matter to the killers if their victims are Christian or Muslim, Hindu or Humanist; what matters is that they show that they can kill where they please.”

Despite the fact that at least four Jews (including one Israeli) were among the 52 victims of the London transport attacks (two Muslims and one Hindu were also among the victims), and that in the service itself Jews were fully recognized and included, the Archbishop failed to mention Jews as victims of terrorism.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the official head of the Church of England.

Following widespread dismay among British Jews at the archbishop, his office yesterday issued a statement saying that “the omission was entirely inadvertent.”

***

I attach two articles below. The second is a follow-up to the note in the dispatch last week titled “Grenade found hidden under a baby (& CIA trained Palestinian terrorists)” (October 27, 2005). The article below by senior journalist Matthew Kalman (a subscriber to this list) provides more details on the C.I.A. training program.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

“IF THE PRINCE WANTS TO TAKE A FEW EXAMPLES OF THE NON-CONFRONTATIONAL APPROACH…”

Confrontation is a good thing
By Mark Steyn
The Daily Telegraph
November 1, 2005

According to The Sunday Telegraph, on this week’s whirlwind tour of the Great Satan, the Prince of Wales “will try to persuade George W Bush and Americans of the merits of Islam because he thinks the United States has been too intolerant of the religion since September 11”. His Royal Highness apparently finds the Bush approach to Islam “too confrontational”.

If the Prince wants to take a few examples of the non-confrontational approach with him to the White House, here’s a couple pulled at random from the last week’s news: the president of Iran called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”. Kofi Annan expressed his “dismay”.

Excellent. Struck the perfect non-confrontational tone. Were the Iranian nuclear programme a little more advanced and they’d actually wiped Israel off the map, the secretary-general might have felt obliged to be more confrontational and express his “deep concern”.

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, three Christian girls walking home from school were beheaded.

“It is unclear what was behind the attack,” reported the BBC, scrupulously non-confrontationally.

In the Australian state of Victoria, reports the Herald Sun, “police are being advised to treat Muslim domestic violence cases differently out of respect for Islamic traditions and habits”. Tough luck for us infidel wife-beaters, but admirably non-confrontational Islam-wise...

[There is a summary only of this article as the rest of the article dealt with other matters.]

 

MIDEAST TRAINING PROGRAM BACKFIRES

“Mideast training program backfires” (By Matthew Kalman, San Francisco Chronicle, February 14, 2005)

www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/02/14/MNG50BANBE1.DTL

Bethlehem, West Bank – In June 1998, somewhere near CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., two rows of men in military fatigues posed for their graduation photo... Some of the men in the picture later swapped sides and began using the skills they learned in Virginia against the Israelis...

The men in the 1998 photo came from Bethlehem, Jericho and Nablus, which all became flash points in the four-year uprising, called the intifada. Kneeling fourth from the left in the front row is Raafat Bajali. In December 2001, Bajali was killed when a bomb he was making blew up in his face. He had become a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant wing of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, said some of his comrades in the General Intelligence unit.

Bajali died in a fourth-floor apartment near Bethlehem’s Manger Square, the home of Nedal Zedok, a colleague in the Palestinian security forces who also was moonlighting for Al-Aqsa. Zedok, too, was killed in the explosion...

As Israeli commentators had been warning for years, the CIA inadvertently helped train future adversaries – as it has done in other countries, including the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan who ended up as Taliban and al Qaeda militants...

The training given to hundreds of Palestinian security officials between 1996 and 2000 was sanctioned by a presidential order in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton, who was deeply involved in peace-making efforts.

The order created a covert program that provided tens of millions of dollars to enhance the professionalism of the Palestinian security services and help combat anti-Israel terrorism. Under the arrangement, CIA contractors trained the Palestinians in firearms, counterterrorism, interrogation techniques and bureaucratic organization. The Palestinian graduates in the photo were instructed by International Training Inc., a private security-training firm that does contract work for the CIA.

The United States, the European Union and Britain also provided advanced radio communications systems, computers, vehicles and other equipment...

Even before the intifada broke out in 2000, the Israeli government was becoming concerned about the inadvertent help to Palestinian militants. In November 1999, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak asked Washington to scale back its assistance to the Palestinian security forces...

The certificate – complete with gold-leaf seal – that the 1998 graduates received from International Training Inc. refers only to an “antiterrorist driving and motorcade operations” course. But the CIA-sponsored session provided firearms training as well, the officer and other participants in the course who spoke to The Chronicle confirmed. “They trained us on pistols and MP5 machine guns," said the officer. “There were fixed targets and moving targets in front of us.”

He said the training was shrouded in tight secrecy, and in a manner that foreshadowed future problems. “We arrived in Washington, then they took us in another plane,” he said. “We were in Virginia for a day or two, then they took us to a military base where they trained us.

“I was shocked by one thing – when they put us on the plane, its windows were blackened,” he said. “And when they put us on a bus, the windows were covered. I asked our escort, ‘Why have you covered the windows of the bus and the airplane?’

“He replied, ‘For the moment we are friends, but we could also become enemies. It’s not in our interest to show you the security bases’...”

 



FULL ARTICLE

MIDEAST TRAINING PROGRAM BACKFIRES

Mideast training program backfires
Palestinian security officers schooled by U.S. later used tactics against Israel
By Matthew Kalman,
San Francisco Chronicle
February 14, 2005

Bethlehem, West Bank – In June 1998, somewhere near CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., two rows of men in military fatigues posed for their graduation photo.

All of them were officers in Palestinian General Intelligence Service, charged with hunting down terrorists and preventing attacks on Israel. They had just completed a training course, paid for by the U.S. government, in which they learned firearms and counterterrorist tactics.

But the graduation photo holds a stark warning for the Bush administration as it gets more involved in Middle East peacemaking. Some of the men in the picture later swapped sides and began using the skills they learned in Virginia against the Israelis.

Such training courses, which were suspended with the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000, will be an integral part of Washington’s aid package for the new government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“There will need to be some international effort, and the United States is prepared to play a major role in that, to help in the training of the Palestinian security forces and in making sure that they are security forces that are part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said earlier this month on the London stop of her European tour.

Lt. Gen. William Ward, Rice’s newly named Mideast security coordinator, will visit the region this month to “start looking at how to build Palestinian security forces,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday.

“What we’re really all talking about is helping the Palestinian security forces get organized, get equipped, get trained and get the command structure that allows them to take care of security problems,” Boucher said.

The men in the 1998 photo came from Bethlehem, Jericho and Nablus, which all became flash points in the four-year uprising, called the intifada. Kneeling fourth from the left in the front row is Raafat Bajali. In December 2001, Bajali was killed when a bomb he was making blew up in his face. He had become a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant wing of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, said some of his comrades in the General Intelligence unit.

Bajali died in a fourth-floor apartment near Bethlehem’s Manger Square, the home of Nedal Zedok, a colleague in the Palestinian security forces who also was moonlighting for Al-Aqsa. Zedok, too, was killed in the explosion.

Standing in the back row, second from the left, is Khaled Abu Nijmeh, from Deheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, according to two of his colleagues who are also pictured.

By 2001, he had become one of the most-wanted Palestinian militants in the city, suspected of involvement in a string of suicide bombings and shooting attacks against Israelis. In May 2002, he was one of 13 gunmen escorted from the Church of the Nativity siege in Bethlehem, flown to Cyprus and then to exile in Europe. Three of the group, including Abu Nijmeh, were given asylum in Italy.

“I am a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and a first sergeant in Palestinian General Intelligence,” Abu Nijmeh, now 36, told The Chronicle from his temporary home in Rome. “I personally received a course in antiterrorism and VIP protection.

“I was not alone. Many Palestinian security people were trained by the Americans. We hope they will continue helping us.”

Abu Nijmeh and his 12 comrades will be allowed to return to Bethlehem under the cease-fire agreement reached last week between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli warnings

As Israeli commentators had been warning for years, the CIA inadvertently helped train future adversaries – as it has done in other countries, including the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan who ended up as Taliban and al Qaeda militants.

“This has proven to be a very risky undertaking,” said Israeli political analyst Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University. “Both the CIA and British efforts to train Palestinians during the Oslo process helped strengthen terrorist capabilities.”

A U.S. official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said that if previous U.S. aid went to train would-be militants, “obviously steps will be taken so that any future training does not lead to a similar outcome.”

The Palestinian security forces were created in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo accords by Arafat to maintain order in newly autonomous Palestinian territories. The recruits were supposed to serve as the police force for the Palestinian Authority and to prevent terrorist attacks against Israel. The CIA and British intelligence services helped provide training and equipment.

But Arafat also used the new police forces to keep himself in power. Based on longtime loyalties within his Fatah political faction, he created 14 separate, often overlapping, security services – including a naval intelligence unit in the landlocked West Bank.

Palestinian security forces were doubling as militants in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and in Hamas, an Islamic group that has claimed credit for many anti-Israel attacks. Zedok, who was killed by Bajali’s bomb, was among those dismissed from the security force after their connections were exposed by Israel. Others, including the Al-Aqsa founder and commander in Ramallah, Khaled al-Shawish, found refuge in Arafat’s West Bank headquarters.

Clinton connection

The training given to hundreds of Palestinian security officials between 1996 and 2000 was sanctioned by a presidential order in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton, who was deeply involved in peace-making efforts.

The order created a covert program that provided tens of millions of dollars to enhance the professionalism of the Palestinian security services and help combat anti-Israel terrorism. Under the arrangement, CIA contractors trained the Palestinians in firearms, counterterrorism, interrogation techniques and bureaucratic organization. The Palestinian graduates in the photo were instructed by International Training Inc., a private security- training firm that does contract work for the CIA.

The United States, the European Union and Britain also provided advanced radio communications systems, computers, vehicles and other equipment.

In October 1998, the Wye Plantation agreement – hammered out between Clinton, Arafat and then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a summit in rural Maryland – formalized the assistance provided by the CIA to Palestinian security, in cooperation with a special security adviser appointed by the European Union, a British former intelligence officer named Alastair Crooke. It was Crooke who escorted Abu Nijmeh and the 12 other exiles from Bethlehem to Cyprus in May 2002 while CIA officers cleared Palestinian weapons from the Church of the Nativity, officials involved in the operation said.

Even before the intifada broke out in 2000, the Israeli government was becoming concerned about the inadvertent help to Palestinian militants. In November 1999, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak asked Washington to scale back its assistance to the Palestinian security forces.

“In recent conversations with senior U.S. officials, Israeli representatives expressed their concerns about the risk that sensitive information on antiterror methods and antiterror technology would be passed from the Palestinian Authority on to terror groups,” the Israeli daily Haaretz reported at that time.

“The American aid to the Palestinians carries a great danger, because it is impossible to know exactly what the Palestinians are receiving, or who ultimately receives it,” a Barak aide told Haaretz.

The Israeli warning was borne out by the graduation photo. Bajali and Abu Nijmeh, the two Al-Aqsa members, were not unusual in combining service in the Palestinian security forces with activity in an underground militia. When the Church of the Nativity siege ended in May 2002, Abu Nijmeh was just one of several security officers among the 13 men deported to Europe and 26 more banished from the West Bank to Gaza.

Among his colleagues when he joined General Intelligence, “there were five or six who were deported abroad and another 10 (from the West Bank) to Gaza,” said one Palestinian officer pictured in the photo of the Class of 1998, who still is in the security forces and asked that his name not be used.

CIA session

The certificate – complete with gold-leaf seal – that the 1998 graduates received from International Training Inc. refers only to an “antiterrorist driving and motorcade operations” course. But the CIA-sponsored session provided firearms training as well, the officer and other participants in the course who spoke to The Chronicle confirmed. “They trained us on pistols and MP5 machine guns,” said the officer. “There were fixed targets and moving targets in front of us.”

He said the training was shrouded in tight secrecy, and in a manner that foreshadowed future problems.

“We arrived in Washington, then they took us in another plane,” he said. “We were in Virginia for a day or two, then they took us to a military base where they trained us.

“I was shocked by one thing – when they put us on the plane, its windows were blackened,” he said. “And when they put us on a bus, the windows were covered. I asked our escort, ‘Why have you covered the windows of the bus and the airplane?’

“He replied, ‘For the moment we are friends, but we could also become enemies. It’s not in our interest to show you the security bases’.”


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.