JERUSALEM – A former Palestinian Authority official has boasted that members of his group’s official security forces are responsible for carrying out the “greatest and most important” terrorist attacks against Israelis.
The statement comes one week after Israel approved the transfer of 1,000 U.S. and European assault rifles to those same security forces. PA militias regularly receive American arms, funding and advanced training.
In an interview on official PA television translated by Palestinian Media Watch, the PA’s former minister of prisoners, Ashraf al-Ajrami, defended his group’s security forces against accusations from the rival Hamas terrorist organization. Al-Ajrami stepped down as minister earlier this year. He is still active in PA politics and is a member of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.
“Now [Hamas] is speaking [disparagingly] about the [PA's security forces, calling them] ‘Dayton Forces,’” began al-Arjami, referring to Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator to the Palestinian territories who oversees all American training of the PA security forces.
Continued al-Arjami: “These (security) forces paid the heavy price in the second Intifada, both as [martyrs] and as prisoners. The greatest number of prisoners (captured by Israel) is from the security forces sector. They are the ones who bore arms and carried out the greatest and most important operations against the Israeli occupation.”
Al-Arjami went on to boast of several “famous” attacks carried out by the PA security forces, including deadly shootings against Jewish civilians and soldiers.
Terrorists double as police officers
Since the late 1990s, the U.S. has run training bases for PA militias. The U.S. also has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid and weapons to build up the PA militias.
The U.S. currently operates training bases for the PA police and other militias, such as Force 17 and the Preventative Security Services in the West Bank city of Jericho and also at U.S.-operated bases in the Jordanian village of Giftlik.
Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator to the Palestinian territories, initiated an advanced program for Palestinian police last year that trains 500 to 600 cadets at a time at the American bases.
Many members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist organization serve openly in the various PA militias, including in top positions. The Brigades, the declared military wing of Abbas’ Fatah organization, is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks aimed at Jewish civilian population centers. Most Brigades members received U.S. or European training as part of the PA security forces.
While U.S. policy considers Abbas to be moderate, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is classified by the State Department as a terrorist organization.
Abbas previously appointed senior Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of the Force 17 Palestinian security unit. Damra, who was arrested by Israel in November 2006, was on the Jewish state’s most-wanted list of terrorists. In his role as Force 17 commander, Damra regularly coordinated security with the U.S.
Much of the senior Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leadership in the important West Bank Fatah stronghold of Nablus attended U.S.-run training courses, including Ala Senakreh, the former Brigades chief in Nablus, and Senakreh’s deputy, Nasser Abu Aziz. Both Aziz and Senakreh in June 2007 received amnesty from Israel on condition they disarm and refrain from terrorist activities. The Al Aqsa Brigades chief in Ramallah, Abu Yousef, doubles as a senior leader of the U.S.-backed Force 17.
In November 2007, Israel arrested two Palestinian police officers who had been accused that month of gunning down Israeli civilian Ido Zoldan in the northern West Bank. Immediately after the killing, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leaders called WND to take credit for the attack.
Israel captured two of Zoldan’s murderers – Abdullah Braham and Jafar Braham – who were PA police officers and members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. A third terrorist, Fadi Jamaa, also a PA police officer, was later apprehended by Palestinian security forces.
Terrorist: ‘U.S. training helped us kill Jews’
Abu Yousuf, a senior officer of Abbas’ Force 17 Presidential Guard unit in Ramallah, previously described to WND how his U.S. training helped him kill Israelis.
“I do not think that the operations of the Palestinian resistance would have been so successful and would have killed more than 1,000 Israelis since 2000 and defeated the Israelis in Gaza without these [American] trainings,” said Yousuf.
Yousuf received U.S. training in Jericho in 1999 as a member of the Preventative Security Services. He is a Brigades chief in Ramallah, where he is accused of participating in anti-Israel terrorism, including recent shootings, attacks against Israeli forces operating in the city and a shooting attack in northern Samaria in December 2000 that killed Benyamin Kahane, leader of the ultranationalist Kahane Chai organization.
After the Kahane murder, Yousuf was extended refuge by Yasser Arafat to live in the late PLO leader’s Ramallah compound, widely known as the Muqata. Yousuf still lives in the compound.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, when in office last year, granted Yousuf amnesty along with 178 other Brigades leaders reportedly as a gesture to Abbas.
Speaking during a sit-down exclusive interview for the book “Schmoozing with Terrorists,” Yousuf said his American training sessions were instrumental in killing Jews:
“All the methods and techniques that we studied in these trainings, we applied them against the Israelis,” he said.
“We sniped at Israeli settlers and soldiers. We broke into settlements and Israeli army bases and posts. We collected information on the movements of soldiers and settlers. We collected information about the best timing to infiltrate our bombers inside Israel. We used weapons and we produced explosives, and of course the trainings we received from the Americans and the Europeans were a great help to the resistance.”
Yousuf described his U.S.-provided training.
“I myself received American trainings in Jericho. Together with my Preventative comrades, I received trainings in intelligence methods and military trainings,” he said. “In the intelligence part, we learned collection of information regarding suspected persons, how to follow suspected guys, how to infiltrate organizations and penetrate cells of groups that we were working on and how to prevent attacks and to steal in places.
“On the military level, we received trainings on the use of weapons, all kind of weapons and explosives,” Yousuf said. “We received sniping trainings, work of special units especially as part of what they call the fight against terror. We learned how to put siege, how to break into places where our enemies closed themselves in, how to oppress protest movements, demonstrations and other activities of opposition.
“We also learned to discover agents that Israel tried to plant in our cells,” he said.
Yousuf stressed he “isn’t talking about U.S. training in order to irritate the Americans or the Israelis and not in order to create provocations.”
“I’m just telling you the truth,” he said. “We applied against Israel all that we learned from the Americans.”