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The suicide bomber who killed three Israelis and wounded 87 yesterday was “arrested” by Yasser Arafat’s forces five days ago, then taken to the headquarters of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, strapped with explosives and sent on his mission, according to a report by DEBKA-Net-Weekly.

“Five days ago, Arafat told the Americans and Israelis that his security forces had arrested a potential suicide bomber, Mohammed Hashaika, in the village of Taluza near the West Bank town of Nablus,” the report says. “Arafat, out to prove to the Americans he was serious about fighting terror, asked them to press Israel for permission to transfer the terrorist from Nablus to Ramallah so that his security forces could keep a closer eye on him. Israel assented – but the young Palestinian didn’t spend a single hour in Ramallah prison. Instead, he was taken straight to the headquarters of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – a force belonging to Arafat’s Fatah faction – where officers loyal to Col. Tawfik Tirawi, chief of the preventive security agency and the Palestinian intelligence officer closest to Arafat, handed him an explosives belt. After showing Hashaika how to use it, they sent him on his way to downtown Jerusalem to carry out the attack.”

According to DEBKA’s Israeli police sources, “The bombing marked the first time in his 40 years of waging terrorism that Arafat has been caught red-handed. He personally arranged for the transfer of the suicide terrorist to Ramallah – and he knew exactly what for.”

The report by DEBKA carried a disclosure that further details of the incident were withheld due to a court gag order imposed at the urging of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

DEBKA said Arafat’s actions followed the pattern established in 1985 when Palestinian terrorists, commanded by Mahmoud Abbas, hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship. Arafat, the report said, was in direct radio contact with Abbas. Every word Arafat said was recorded by Israeli and Egyptian intelligence. Abbas chose one passenger, a wheelchair-bound elderly American Jew named Leon Klinghoffer, as a hostage.

“What should I do with him,” Abbas asked Arafat.

“Throw him into the sea,” Arafat answered.

Abbas carried out his order and Klinghoffer died.

Meanwhile, officially, Arafat continues to distance himself from such acts of terrorism.

“The Palestinian suicide bombing that shattered lives and storefronts in downtown Jerusalem on Thursday also made a shambles of any coherent Israeli and U.S. policy toward Yasser Arafat,” said the DEBKA report. “The aftershock of the attack would be even greater were it not for an Israeli court’s gag order, issued at the urging of the prime minister’s office, banning full DEBKAfile reporting on the atrocity.”

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