The Hezbollah within us
Maariv Int'l - Israel
Mar 5th, 2004
Palestinian terrorism has a new boss: Master terrorist Imad Mughnieh, Nasrallahs deputy of operations. * He heads The Organization for Internal Operations. His people manufacture terror attacks. * From instructions for assembling devices through explanations on the exact place in the bus to explode. * From ways to smuggle materiel through ways to finance terror cells.
The last time that Shadi Abdu from Nablus visited Jordan, he received a very attractive gift, a new Sony PlayStation. However, Shadis present, generously purchased by the Hezbollah, was not intended for playing games. Truthfully, nothing could have farther from his mind. A digital memory card, which could be removed and installed in any home computer, was concealed inside the popular game. The card came from a Hezbollah laboratory and contained clear, detailed diagrams that showed precisely how to manufacture explosives, explosive vests and roadside charges.
Thats the way Hezbollah operates. It has initiative. It is innovative. It challenges the Israeli security services, every single day. After the Israeli Navy succeeded in catching the ship of Abu Hassan at sea last May and confiscated the training material on-board, Hezbollah started to look for new ways to smuggle their death courses. If they cant smuggle large quantities of arms, like they tried to do on the Karine A, they would find other, more sophisticated and harder to detect, methods.
For three years, the Lebanese organization (with full support from Iran) has been trying to tighten its hold on the Palestinian terrorist cells. On the Israel Security Services maps, names of the Palestinian cells and terrorists, with Hezbollah connections, can be found in every city in Judea and Samaria, from Jenin in the north to Hebron in the south. The Gaza Strip, too, has not been forgotten.
The Hezbollahs take-over of Judea, Samaria and parts of the Gaza Strip began gradually, developed and gathered strength. When the flow of money from the Palestinian Authority and its security organizations ceased, Hezbollah representatives arrived with full pockets that caused the Tanzim to become addicted to Lebanese money. A friend introduces a friend and additional cells began to receive instructions from abroad. Today, almost 100% of the Fatahs operations under the name Al-Aqsa Brigades are financed and directed by the Shiite organization and Iran. Hezbollah has become an employment agency for the Tanzim, explained a source from the security services.
Although the process was gradual, Israeli sources say that neither coincidence nor luck were involved. Rather, it was an official Iranian decision that Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and his cohort translated into policy. Iran and the Hezbollah established an entire organization for this purpose and invest millions of dollars annually. Recently, it appears that Hezbollah is not content with only the Tanzim and is continuing in other directions. The more they eat, the hungrier they get.
The new trend is to the take-over Islamic Jihad cells and to control them directly. Ahmed Sari Hussein, a senior terrorist from Tul Karm, who received money and instructions from Lebanon without reporting it to the Jihad offices in Damascus, is a good example. The Islamic Jihad is considered a close ally of Iran and its leader Ramadan Shallah was appointed as a result of Iranian pressure. The fact that the Hezbollah is stealing Jihad activists could be a sign that Iran is pleased with the system they used with the Tanzim and wants to expand its influence in the Palestinian sector.
Haled Shawish, a terrorist from Force 17, is accused of a series of attacks against Israeli targets. One of the most wanted terrorists, he was hiding in the Muqata (Arafats headquarters) in Ramallah until a few days ago. He, too, is suspected of ties to Hezbollah. Speaking to Maariv, he denied any connection between Hezbollah and Iran and accused the GSS of spreading rumors against the Palestinian organizations.
We have our own leadership. Abu-Amar (Yasser Arafat) is commander-in-chief. No one else, he said and stressed that he is not involved in any military activity sponsored by Hezbollah. Shawish claimed that his only connection to Hezbollah was with the Al-Manar station before the prisoner exchange, when he tried to get his brother, who an Israeli court sentenced to four life sentences, included in the list of Palestinian prisoners to be released.
However, he does admit that the Hezbollah is trying to take over the Palestinian organizations. The organization has an interest in laying its hands on every Palestinian fighter, Shawish said and added that Hezbollah wants to see the Palestinian Authority fail.
Two Iranian organizations are at the top of the command hierarchy that controls Palestinian terrorism: the Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guard. Beneath them are Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and Imad Mughnieh, his deputy for the military affairs. Mughnieh heads a special group, The Organization for Internal Operations that is responsible for all activities in Israel and the territories.
The entire complex operation is managed from a small office that employs only a few people. Hezbollah assigned the task to a small group of veterans who were responsible for the military operations against the IDF in southern Lebanon. They have killed Israelis themselves and understand the needs of terrorists in the field and know how to get it to them. Now they are taking advantage of their knowledge and combat experience to operate the Palestinians by remote control.
Israel is still trying to map out how the organization works. It is involved in the finest details of terror attacks including training, finances and sending the bombers to their targets. The developing portrait reveals that Hezbollah has allocated several operators to guide the terrorist activities in the territories.
One of these is Kais Obeid, the Israeli Arab from Taibeh who was involved in kidnapping Elhanan Tennenbaum. Israeli intelligence officials claim that Obeid is very valuable to Hezbollah because he can connect them directly to the field, using e-mail, ordinary and cellular telephones and every other possible means of communication.
The curfews and closures on Palestinian cities and the focus on building the anti-terrorism barrier make it hard for terror cells from different cities to cooperate. This has created an absurd situation; only someone in Lebanon can see the whole picture and connect the suicide bomber in Jenin with the explosive vest in Nablus.
In the middle of last year Kais Obeid was able to recruit Firas Halaileh, an explosives expert from Nablus. Halaileh began to receive payments from Hezbollah, through messengers from abroad, in order to carry out attacks and recruit members for the Shiite organization. He took a central role in the Hezbollahs operations in Samaria and began to supply weapons and explosives throughout Judea and Samaria. By the time he was arrested in October, he was able to connect Obeid to Bethlehem and Hebron where Hezbollah still has infrastructure.
In addition to controlling existing cells, Hezbollah is trying to establish independent cells that will have no other loyalties. Shadi Abu-Hussein, a pharmacist from Gaza, organized one of these, until he was arrested last month. For three years, he was in constant contact with Lebanon, receiving instructions and money. He sent messengers to Lebanon who returned with expertise in explosives. They tried to build rockets, shoulder-launched missiles and sophisticated explosives. Shortly before the cell was uncovered, they were in the advanced stages of producing an explosive model airplane. They built the airplane, installed the motor and had added the explosive device. They had even conducted an unsuccessful experiment. The plane took off but landed immediately. Security officials believe it was intended for use against settlements or IDF posts in the Gaza Strip.
The Hezbollah operation is highly departmentalized. The leaders make every effort to conceal their identities from the heads of Palestinian cells. For example, Ali Hussein Salah was a Hezbollah terrorist who operated cells in the Gaza Strip. In August, a mysterious explosion killed him in his car. Even though the incident received broad media coverage, his operatives did not connect the story to their contact in Lebanon. Only two weeks later did rumors spreading by word-of-mouth, lead them to understand that someone had settled accounts with their Lebanese supervisor.
Hezbollah invests great efforts in smuggling sophisticated weapons into Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The maritime attempts failed but that hasnt stopped them from continuing intensive efforts via the tunnel under Rafah. Therefore, they have greatly expanded their operations in Sinai. Locals, usually Bedouin do the actual smuggling, but the instructions and money come from Lebanon. Some of the weapons are purchased in Egypt; other are smuggled from Lebanon to Egypt and from there to the Gaza Strip.
Most of the smuggled materiel is light weapons, like Kalashnikov rifles, but the security services have also captured heavier arms, including rockets and advanced missiles. However, the assumption is that if any of these had gotten through to terrorists in the Gaza Strip, they would have used them against Israel by now.
In addition to familiar methods of smuggling, Hezbollah is trying to develop new channels. Investigation of Arab Israelis who were recruited by Hezbollah and arrested by the GSS, revealed plans to smuggle weapons directly into Israel, concealed as imported electronic appliances. Their assumption was that not every container entering Israel is inspected.
Since smuggling weapons isnt easy, especially in Judea and Samaria, experts in explosives and other technologies from Hezbollah and Iran searched for ways to improve the Palestinians engineering skills. The memory card concealed in the PlayStation is only one example. They also use the Internet. Knowledge trickles down to the field, especially in the Gaza Strip. Israeli security sources estimate that several of the sophisticated devices captured in the Gaza Strip were based on Lebanese-Iranian technology.
There are training films that teach how to produce R-D-X, an especially strong explosive, and how to use it to build a catapult-like device that can propel metal balls over a distance of several dozen meters. Another shows how to build a thin explosive vest that is hard to detect. Later in the film, it shows exactly where in the bus should a suicide bomber stand so the maximum effect would be achieved.
Unlike written instructions for building explosive devices, which can be found on many Internet sites, the films come with clear, visual explanations. This is a serious, professional production that demonstrates, step-by-step, how to build deathly devices. Israeli experts in the field who have seen the films estimate that even someone without any previous background could build an explosive vest after viewing them.
The Palestinian Authority is aware of Hezbollahs activities on its home court but is doing nothing to change the situation. Arafat, either unwilling or unable to act, watches from the side as Nasrallah steals his former loyalists. The last time Arafat felt his leadership challenged, during the prisoner exchange, he did nothing. Nasrallah has won a place in Palestinian hearts paying the Tanzim and releasing prisoners but the PA does nothing to disconnect the lines between Lebanon and the Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
In Israel, you love to give the public security and intelligence information, says Shawish from his hiding place in Ramallah. But your intelligence distorts many details in an attempt to tell the Israeli people that the Palestinian resilience is connected to Hezbollah. Its not true. He also had a request for the GSS, Dont spread rumors to keep the Palestinians down and strengthen the Sharon government.
However, the security forces have difficulty understanding why the international community, and maybe Israel, too, doesnt take the intensive Hezbollah activity in its backyard more seriously. They claim that Lebanese involvement in Palestinian terrorism is much more extensive than the terrorist activity on the northern border. In the last year, Tanzim cells, directed and financed by Hezbollah, carried out 16 serious attacks in which 32 Israelis and one foreign worker were killed. Despite this, Hezbollah is still considered a threat on the northern border. http://www.maarivintl.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&articleID=4106