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Iraq’s Involvement in the Palestinian Terrorist Activity against Israel

During the Aqsa intifada, Iraq’s direct and deep involvement in strengthening the terrorist infrastructures in Judea and Samaria in order to improve their capabilities in carrying out fatal terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, was exposed. Over the past few months Iraq has given substantial financial and military aid to terrorist organizations operating under its purview.

Primary among these organizations is the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF), headed by Mahmoud Zidan Abu El Abbas who operates from Iraq, and the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), which are both avid pro-Iraqi organizationss. The culmination of this support was the arrest in 2001 of ALF and PLF terrorist groups from the Asqar refugee camp in the Qabatiya area near Nablus and Ramallah. The members admitted during questioning by the Israel Security Agency (ISA), that they had undergone military training in Iraq and subsequently carried out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, civilian and military alike. This mode of operation continues today.

The transfer of Iraqi funds to families of deceased and injured Palestinian terrorists

Iraq’s involvement in terrorism in the territories includes extensive financial aid transferred from Iraq to terrorist groups in the territories, and to families of suicide bombers as well as to injured terrorists and those whose homes were destroyed. The funds are given to the families in public and in highly publicized ceremonies, which take place throughout the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria. During these ceremonies funds are distributed on behalf of Saddam Hussein, the President of Iraq. This activity is legitimized by the Palestinian Authority, with the participation of Palestinian ministers, members of the legislative body and mayors in the ceremonies.

For example, a Palestinian Liberation Front ceremony which took place Hebron was attended by Abas Zaki, the minister responsible for Hebron and a member of the legislative body, who visited Iraq last March. An article published in the “Al Quds” magazine in June 2002 stated that “Saddam Hussein’s popularity is growing due to the millions of dollars he contributes to Palestinian families hurt by the Al Aqsa intifada.”

In May 2001, a Palestinian delegation headed by Salim Zanoun, Chairman of the Palestinian National Committee, traveled to Iraq in order to improve connections and cooperation between the Palestinian parliament and the Iraqi government. During the visit, Zanoun praised Saddam Housein’s brave Iraqi government, its firm national stands and the aid it bestows upon the Palestinian Authority – including some one billion Euros which were blocked by the United States. Zanoun stressed that the Palestinian people loves Iraq, its leader and the Iraqi people, and that Iraq’s enemies, among them the American president, have sunken to the bottom of the barrel as opposed to Saddam Housein who has remained at the top.

In documents confiscated during Operative Defensive Shield from the ALF archives, documents and checks were found certifying to the transfer of financial aid of $10,000 to each of the 12 Arab Israeli families, whose members were killed during the riots of October 2000. The checks were paid in cash to the families or their representatives in Ramallah via the Palestinian Investment Bank. 

Recently, due to the impending American attack in Iraq, public ceremonies have been held to demonstrate the support of the Palestinian Authority for Iraq. The distribution of financial aid, on behalf of Saddam Hussein, continues.

During a ceremony held by the PLF on September 10, 2002, the participants praised the “Al-Aqsa” intifada and thanked Saddam Hussein for the generous financial aid he bestows upon the Palestinians. At During the ceremony, certificates and grants were distributed to the families of the deceased, each receiving approximately $10,000. The participants waved Palestinian and Iraqi flags and pictures of Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein. In addition, the participants stomped on American and Israeli flags which the ceremony’s organizers placed on the floor. The participants waved their fists in the air and proclaimed their support for Saddam by chanting, “Dear Saddam, strike strike Tel-Aviv.” Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the Hamas spiritual leader, who addressed the rally, emphasized the need to aid the Iraqi nation and its government in dealing with the American exploitation and threat.

Ibrahim Zanoun, the ALF spokesman in the Gaza Strip, stated during a recent interview with the Associated Press that Iraq distributes financial grants to the families of suicide bombers and individuals killed as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He added that Iraq is now raising the grant from $10,000 to $25,000. Zanoun also mentioned that Iraq granted $5,000 to all the families whose homes were demolished in Rafah and $25,000 to the families whose homes were demolished in Jenin. In addition he stated that since the outbreak of the “Al-Aqsa” intifada Iraq has donated approximately $30-35 million to the Palestinians, and that Iraq wants to transfer approximately $1 billion from its oil revenues from the supervised oil quotas, but the US vetoed the idea. Zanoun mentioned that Saddam Hussein feels that the suicide attacks reach their peak the framework of the Jihad [“Holy War”].

Iraq extends additional aid by treating wounded Palestinians in Iraqi hospitals. A number of days ago a group of wounded Palestinians were transferred to Iraq. The director of the Dar Al Tamritz Hospital stated that President Saddam Hussein instructed him to treat Palestinians injured the intifada and prepare the means and the staff to do so.

Arab Liberation Front Activity in the Territories

Ahmed Walid Houmeidat, 20 years old, a resident of the Jalzoun refugee camp, admitted during questioning by the ISA that he had undergone military training in Iraq. Ahmed stated that Omar Abu Leil, alias “Abu Fadi”, had told him of a course given in Iraq, promising that after he completed the course he would help him to enlist in the Preventative Security by forging the date of conclusion of the course, so that it would appear as if he completed an extended course. Ahmed left for the course in Iraq via Jordan, and participated in the training program which lasted 10 days and included marching, arrests, protection detail and weapons training.

Mourad Ziad Abu Sharifa, 20 years old, a resident of the Jalzoun refugee camp, admitted during questioning by the ISA that at the beginning of the “Al-Aqsa” intifada he was injured in his head by a rubber bullet while partaking in a riot. After being told that the ALF office in Ramallah were distributing money to anyone injured, he went to the office and received $500. Later he was given a job in the ALF office. Mourad provided the following information about the ALF parameters for providing aid to injured Palestinians:

Every injured individual receives $500 dollars, a handicapped individual $1,000, and the family of someone killed – $10,000. The office arranges periodic ceremonies with the participation of Palestinian VIPs, and the money is transferred from Iraq to the Arab Bank in Ramallah. In addition, the office assists high school graduates interested in studying abroad. Mourad added that the office arranges ALF marches and also participates in all marches by the various terror organizations. Anyone who comes to the office seeking financial help is offered aid in exchange for participating in a march.

Palestinian Liberation Front activity in the territories

The Qabatiya terrorist group

  • Mouhammad Ahmed Lahlouh, 21.
  • Yasser Taisir Kamil, 28.
  • Muhammad Farouq Abu Roub, 28 (Islamic Jihad).
The three admitted during questioning by the ISA that in December 2000 they traveled via Jordan to a training camp in Iraq. Upon their arrival in Iraq they were met by Bassam Askar – “Abu Moustafa” – Deputy General Secretary of the PLF, who led them to the camp. The three trained in the military camp for approximately two weeks, during which they underwent theoretical and practical training in firing Kalashnikovs asasault rifles, they learned to prepare ambushes and to fire at moving vehicles. In addition they studied how to infiltrate a military base. 

During the second part of the camp they learned to manufacture explosive charges and Molotov cocktails. Throughout the entire training they wore uniforms, used code names and masked their faces. The training included physical training, crawling, hiding and running toward obstacles.

At the end of the course they received a security briefing by Abu El Abbas, the General Secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Front, who inquired as to their willingness to carry out terror atacks in the territories upon their return. The three were instructed to claim responsibility for their terrorist actions on behalf of the “Dir Yassin Brigades”, so that in Iraq they would know who perpetrated the attacks. During the course of the briefing they were told not to return to the West Bank together, not to be seen together in the village and not to tell anyone of the training.

Yasser Kamil related that during the initial training period he was injured in his hand by the explosion of a grenade he was supposed to throw, and he was evacuated to the hospital. During the time he was hospitalized, he met a Palestinian girl, who currently resides in Baghdad, and married her. After he was released from the hospital he moved in with his new wife, in an apartment which Abu Moustafa had rented for them. After approximately a month and a half he decided he wanted to return to the West Bank. He met with Abu El Abbas who suggested that work on his behalf in the West Bank, and in exchange he would send him a monthly pay check.
Mahmud Lahlouh related that after he returned from his training in March 2001, he, along with Muhammad Abu Roub, placed an explosive charge attached to a cellular phone on the bypass road of the army base near Zbabda. The two attempted to detonate the charge, but it failed to explode. Lahlouh also related that in July 2001 he placed an explosive charge at the entrance to the town of Elkana. He added that Abu Roub had also pressured him to perpetrate shooting and bombing attacks within Israel.

Muhammad Farouq Abu Roub, a resident of Qabatiya, 28, is an Islamic Jihad operative. Abu Roub stated during questioning that during his stay in Iraq, Abu El Abbas instructed him to identify targets, recruit additional operatives and await a shipment of weapons from the organization. A short time later Abu Roub was once again summoned to Iraq for additional weapons training. During his stay in Iraq he met with Abu El Abbas and Abu Moustafa again and they inquired as to why he had not carried out attacks, and promised to send him weapons and money. After he returned from Iraq, as noted above, he manufactured a cellular phone explosive charge which he and Lahlouh attempted to detonate. Abu Roub added that during his first visit in Iraq Abu El Abbas instructed them to perpetrate a terrorist attack in a kindergarten or school and to kill the children without mercy, because they would one day be soldiers.

The Asqar Refugee Camp Terrorist Group

  • Mahmoud Ahmed Zigil, 26.
  • Raed Rouhi Mahmoud Abu Kashk, 25.
  • Nimer Walid Abu Hamada, 29.
  • Abdallah Hassin Abu Zeid, 34. 
The four admitted during questioning by the ISA that they traveled via Jordan to a training camp in Iraq.

Abdallah Abu Zeid offered to dispatch them for training on behalf of the PLF. Prior to the trip they underwent an intelligence briefing in Abdallah’s house by a senior PLF operative from Nablus known as “Abu Osama”, who told the four that they were being sent for military training, and then asked them to sign a document stating that they are the organization’s recruits. 

The military training camp was called “Al-Quds” and was located outside Baghdad. Throughout the entire training they wore uniforms, used code names and masked their faces. In the course of training they learned to assemble, disassemble and use various weapons such as Kalashnikovs, Nato, M16, and G3. In addition, they learned to use explosive materials, to manufacture improvised explosive charges and Molotov cocktails, and to detonate an explosive charge using a car remote control. In addition they studied navigation.

At the completion of the training they held a final training exercise, in which the instructors and Abu El Abbas participated. During the exercise, they detonated explosive charges. After the graduation ceremony Abu El Abbas told the four that he was pleased with what he saw.

Mahmoud Zigil, admitted during questioning that during their training, one of the instructors proposed that the terrorist group perpetrate an attack against the Hawara army base and tanks at the Hawara junction. The terrorist group members refused, saying that there are Arabs living around the base. In addition, there are many IDF tanks in the area, and therefore the probability that they would successfully perpetrate an attack is low.

Upon completion of training, they remained in Baghdad and received $100 spending money. While in Baghdad, each of the terrorist group members met with the PLF General Secretary, Abu El Abbas. During Zigil’s meeting, Abu El Abbas told him that since he holds a blue Israeli ID card and is able to travel freely, he must gather information on Dimona, and on buses leaving the Tel-Aviv central bus station which carry many soldiers. Abu El Abbas told Zigil he must return to the West Bank to collect the information and then return to Iraq for special sabotage training. Abu El Abbas said that in the event that he would be unable to travel to Iraq, he was to fax the information he gathered.

The Ramallah Terrorist Group

  • Muhammad Shaban Koundous, 36.
  • Mamoun Ali Hamdan, 24.
  • Muhammad Mahmoud Taha, 21.
  • Amer Moustafa Mourdi, 21.
  • Ali Yousef Zeid, 20.
Muhammad Koundous was recruited into the PLF in 1988, and underwent military training in the “Al Quds” military training camp between 1988-89. During questioning by the ISA, he admitted that om 2001 he traveled to Baghdad, where he met with Abu El Abbas. The latter told him that there is an active terrorist infrastructure in the territories. He asked him to direct the activity in the territories, including terrorist attacks within Israel and the territories. Abu El Abbas asked Koundous to act as the contact man between the operatives in the territories and Iraq, saying that his handler would be “Abu Moustafa”. Abu El Abbas then introduced him to terrorist operatives residing in Iraq at the time, and directed them to operate only with Kuondous. In addition, Koundous said that Abu El Abbas directed him and the operatives in the territories to carry out a terrorist attack at Ben Gurion International Airport, using an explosive suitcase. However, realizing that the security level at Ben-Gurion International Airport is very high, they decided that they would not be able to perpetrate an attack there and planned a terrorist attack at a crowded location in Tel-Aviv.
Mamoun Ali Hamdan admitted during questioning by the ISA that in December 2000 he participated in military training in Iraq. Mamoun traveled to Iraq via Jordan, and upon his arrival he met with Abu Moustafa who escorted him to the “Al-Quds” military training camp. During the training he underwent theoretical training in assembling, disassembling and firing Kalashnikovs assault rifles and revolvers and in manufacturing explosive materials. Abu El Abbas stressed to him during the course of the training the importance of the battle against Israel and that the organization’s operatives provide defense for the Palestinian people. After completing the training course, he was asked to recruit additional youths to undergo training in Iraq, and was later asked to obtain weapons and explosive materials for the organization’s operatives. Hamdan obtained a large amount of explosives in Ramallah and hid them in a rented warehouse. In order to move the materials, he used a truck belonging to the Palestinian parliament, where he worked. In addition, Hamdan purchased cellular phones, in order to detonate the explosive charges.
Mouhamad Mahmoud Taha, a member of the Palestinian General Intelligence who was arrested during Operative Defensive Shield, admitted during questioning that he underwent military training in Iraq and was in the “Al-Quds” camp together with Hamdan, and underwent similar training. After he returned, he was asked by a PLF operative to manufacture an explosive charge, and participated in shooting attacks in Psagot. In addition, he admitted that he participated in the murder of the teenager Yuri Gushchin, who was kidnapped and stabbed to death.
Omar Moustafa Mourdi, a resident of El Bira, a PLF operative, was arrested on June 11, 2002. Mourdi admitted during questioning by the ISA, that he participated in military training at the “Al-Quds” training camp in Iraq. During the course of the training he trained with various weapons, such as rifles, pistols and RPG launchers. Mourdi related that after he returned to Ramallah, Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the General Intelligence in the West Bank, contacted him and told him that since he was so well trained , he would participate, along with Palestinian youths, in shooting attacks against Israeli targets. Tirawi then gave him a Kalashnikov rifle, saying that it was his to keep. Since then, Mourdi has participated in numerous shooting attacks in the Ramallah area, using the rifle Tirawi gave him. In addition, he admitted that he participated in the kidnapping and murder of the teenager Yuri Gushchin.
Ali Yousef Zeid, admitted during questioning by the ISA, that he participated in military training in Iraq, along with Wael Samara, a PLF military operative. They learned to use explosive materials, to manufacture improvised bombs and to throw grenades. After he returned from training he participated in terrorist activity with Wael Samar. The latter instructed him to manufacture an explosive charge, as he had learned in Iraq, and to plant it near the town of Beit El. He was unable to carry out the planned attack due to IDF presence.
Iraq’s mounting involvement in the terrorist activity in the territories has continued. In July-August 2002, three youths were recruited by the PLF, two of them residents of K’far Qubar (near Ramallah) and the other a resident of Beit Rima. They were dispatched to Iraq in order to undergo military training, during which they were instructed to perpetrate terrorist attacks against Israeli targets. Two of the youths were arrested after returning from Iraq.
Muhammad Ahmed Al Koundous, a resident of Qubar, 25 years old, was arrested on July 24, 2002 at the Allenby Bridge after returning from training in Iraq. Muhammad admitted during questioning by the ISA, that in June 2002 he traveled to Iraq via Jordan along with other recruits. In Iraq the three were escorted by Bassam Al Askar “Abu Moustafa”, Deputy General Secretary of the PLF, to a military training camp, which was guarded by Palestinians. During training, they learned to assemble, disassemble and fire various weapons such as Kalashnikovs, M16s, and 14-cylinder handguns. In addition, they underwent theoretical training in using RPGs and mortars. The training included physical training, camouflage and navigation. During their stay, they were taken on tours of various sites in Baghdad, among them “Mouqdar A-Shouhada”, which was the American school bombed during the Gulf War. At the conclusion of the course, Abu El Abbas visited them.

Khaled Talal Al Haj, a resident of Qubar, 26 years old, was arrested on August 11, 2002 at his home. Khaled admitted during questioning by the ISA, that he traveled from Jordan to Iraq for military training. Khaled stated that during the course of the training they received theoretical training on tanks: movement, armor, types of shell, shooting methods, and actual tank driving in the field. Khaled mentioned that they drove a German “Geftil” tank, imported from Iran. After being trained in how to assemble and disassemble weapons, they receiving trained on how to manufacture explosive charges and how to plant roadside bombs and detonate them against a vehicle.

Khaled added during questioning, that during the training he was asked by “Abu Moustafa” to supply details regarding the airport in Atarot and the IDF checkpoints in the area. Khaled sketched a diagram of the IDF checkpoint in Atarot, the roads from the checkpoint in each direction, and the road leading to the town of Halamish. Khaled also told them of a house occupied by the soldiers at the checkpoint. “Abu Moustafa” instructed the participants to observe the checkpoint and to carry out the following terrorist attack:

They were to attack the house where the soldiers live and kill them, take over the house and the tank outside. They were then to drive the tank towards the checkpoint while firing, take over the checkpoint and then proceed to Halamish, where they were to fire shells. Finally, they were to place and detonate bombs along the access road to the settlement in order to prevent the arrival of rescue personnel and reinforcements.
In addition, “Abu Mousatafa” instructed them to recruit three additional operatives and train them in the use of weapons. At the conclusion of the course, it was decided that upon their arrival in the West Bank, the organization’s operatives would contact them and they would be supplied with M16 in order to train the new recruits.

The above information clearly demonstrates Iraq’s intentions to continue its involvement in Palestinian terrorism in the territories, and to initiate and encourage the perpetration of fatal terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens and IDF forces – this with the full cooperation and direct support of the Iraqi government.