British nationals in Tel Aviv suicide attack were trained by Hamas in Syria (Geostrategy-Direct) EMERGING THREATS ó Focus on Hamas week ending June 3/03)
Two British nationals who participated in a suicide attack on a Tel
Aviv pub in early May were recruited and trained by Hamas in Syria,
Israeli and Western intelligence officials believe. A new report said
more than 20 Hamas operatives were believed to have been sent to
Syria for training in weapons, explosives, intelligence, abduction
and suicide operations.
The report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said
Hamas leaders use their Damascus headquarters to plan major
operations against Israel.
The Hamas headquarters in Syria has been a key factor in the upsurge
in Islamic suicide bombings against Israeli targets over the last
year, the report said.
Hamas, the report said, operates at least two offices in the Damascus
area. The Iranian-aligned Islamic Jihad runs one office and the
Syrian-sponsored Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-
General Command operates five offices. The report said other
Palestinian groups operate at least 11 other offices in the Syrian
In mid-May, Palestinian sources reported that insurgency groups in
Damascus had lowered their profile. The sources said some of the
groups will operate out of homes in the Yarmouk refugee camp in the
Hamas has used its offices in Syria to financing and planning of
insurgency operations, a new report says.
The report, authored by Matthew Levitt, said Hamas leaders in
Damascus have acknowledged their central role in insurgency
operations. Leavitt said Syrian officials urged Hamas and other
groups to step up attacks and in May 2002 offered financial aid for a
renewal of suicide strikes.
"From their Syrian safe haven, Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal, Mussa
Abu Marzouk, Imad Al Alami, and others actively launch terrorist
operations," the report said. "Hamas leaders have acknowledged the
central role that their group´s Damascus-based ´political´ leaders
play in operational decision-making."
The report cited a statement from the late Hamas military commander
Salah Shehada in the Gaza Strip. Shehada, who was assassinated last
year in an Israeli air attack in Gaza City, had asserted that "the
political apparatus is sovereign over the military apparatus, and a
decision of the political [echelon] takes precedence over the
decision of the military [echelon], without intervening in military
Islamic Jihad has financed virtually all of its insurgency activities
from Damascus. The report cited Palestinian documents captured by
Israel last year indicating that Islamic Jihad sent $127,000 from
Damascus to West Bank families of operatives killed or arrested.
"In fact, the flow of money from Damascus to Jenin was so massive
that PIJ [Palestine Islamic Jihad] eventually began funding
operations by other groups," the report said. (Copyright © 2003 East
West Services, Inc. posted 05/30/03)
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