Skip to comments.Mashaal: Hamas is in state of alert
Posted on 09/26/2004 1:08:38 PM PDT by anotherview
Sep. 25, 2004 17:49 | Updated Sep. 26, 2004 20:49
Mashaal: Hamas is in state of alert
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas's political bureau, whose group sends suicide bombers into Israel, knows that Israel has him targeted again. And the leader of the Damascus-based political bureau of Hamas is taking no chances.
"We are in a state of alert and vigilance," he told The Associated Press this week during a visit to Cairo from his home base in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Since the double Hamas suicide bombing on August 31 in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, where 16 Israelis were killed, Israeli officials began focusing their warnings on Syria and the Hamas leaders like Mashaal who are based in Damascus. Hamas officials say all attacks are planned and carried out by operatives in the Palestinian territories.
Israel has in the recent years killed top Hamas leaders in the West Bank and Gaza. Just how much this has been effective is not clear. New leaders readily moved to fill the vacuum, but the secrecy and security-dictated restrictions on movements under which they are forced to operate to stay alive is bound to have an effect.
Yoni Fighel, of the Israeli Institute for Counter-Terrorism, said the Israeli campaign against Hamas is making a difference.
"The group has to deal with its survival as well as launching attacks," he said.
However, Fighel said, the assassinations have not influenced "the consciousness of (Hamas members) to the extent that they would be afraid to carry out attacks."
Syrian political analyst Ahmed al-Haj Ali disagrees. "Threats will only provoke the resistance to look for new ways to fight and new people for martyrdom," he said.
In a May interview, Mashaal shrugged off Israeli claims they have crippled the organization. "The history of the people shows that the passing of leaders strengthens the spirit of resistance and does not weaken it."
After the Beersheba bombings, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the deadliest attack in Israel nearly a year were carried out on direct orders from Hamas leaders in Damascus. A senior adviser, Raanan Gissin, has said neither Hamas nor Syria was "immune" to an Israeli strike. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Syria's support for terrorists "will have very clear consequences."
Last October, Israeli planes attacked the training camp of another terrorist group, Islamic Jihad, outside Damascus, a day after a female suicide bomber blew up a restaurant in the Israeli port city of Haifa, killing 21 people.
In March, Israel assassinated Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin in Gaza. In April, Hamas' Gaza chief, Abdul-Aziz Rantisi was killed, forcing the remaining two Hamas leaders in the territory to go underground. The senior Hamas leadership in the West Bank was eliminated by the assassination of three and the arrest of one.
Mashaal, a former physics professor, emerged as the top leader after Israel's assassinations of Yassin. The bearded, 48-year-old leader would not discuss details of his security, but new measures have been obvious since Yassin's assassination.
Hamas men in Damascus have been moving from one safe house to another. Reaching them, once possible with a knock on the door or phone call became a cloak-and-dagger affair mediated by aides and requiring long drives and detours to a mystery location. After the Beersheba bombings, contacting the Hamas leaders in Damascus became impossible.
Mashaal's visit to Cairo, for talks with Egyptian officials trying to persuade Palestinian factions to work together on how to run Gaza after a planned Israeli withdrawal, was previously unannounced. He surfaced here after dropping out of public sight in Damascus on September 2, the day Hamas claimed responsibility for the Beersheba bombings.
"We are taking all the necessary security precautions because we face a vicious and vile enemy which practices its open terrorism openly against us, inside and outside (the Palestinian territories), on the political leadership and the public alike without exception," Mashaal said.
On Sept. 25, 1997, Mossad agents tried to kill the Hamas leader, spraying him with poison on an Amman street. While Mashaal lay in a hospital, Jordan's King Hussein, who had signed a peace deal with Israel in 1994, persuaded Israel to send the antidote that saved his life.
Mashaal would not say whether he was moving out of Damascus or going deep underground after his trip to Cairo.
Syria has been under pressure from the United States for about 1 years to close down the Hamas offices in Damascus and expel the leaders.
Washington, like Israel, considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Damascus has curtailed the activities of its Palestinian guests, but says they cannot be expelled because they have nowhere to go as long as Israel occupies their land.
Mashaal said since the latest bombings, the pressure has increased on Syria, where he has lived for several years. After the 1997 assassination attempt in Jordan, Jordan's relationship with Hamas deteriorated and Mashaal was expelled to Qatar. He moved afterward to Damascus.
Mashaal insisted Hamas's main base is in the Palestinian territories.
"It is wrong to think that Hamas has an address in a specific Arab capital .... It is present in many capitals and has representatives and is widely active in the Arab world," he said.
"I am speaking to you in Cairo, and I could talk to you in another Arab country. This is our natural right. The Palestinian people is spread out in all Arab regions."
But he said Hamas understands the difficulties some countries face. Syria has been slapped with US sanctions.
Asked whether Hamas continues to operate from Syria or had been forced to keep silent to deflect the pressure, he replied without elaboration: "We are aware of the complicated situation in the conflict. We deal with each stage accordingly."
"Oh my... I'm the next one they will kill!"
I suppose they must be concerned that much of the world is waking up to the fact that no matter how much they, and their agents in America, accuse us of being "Islamophobic" we have finally begun to realize that they, and all other followers of their ilk, are "Islamofascists."
When will these Hamas idiots learn!! The IDF gets a leader. His replacement calls the media together to announce he has been promoted and the Reuters guy signals the IDF where the new Hamas guy lives. I guess the Hamas folks are so busy hanging on that they never think to check who is paying the media guys.
Hope I get to use it soon.
Since when are terrorist press releases "news"?
If he is indeed, targeted, he had better make out his will. There will be no antidote this time.