by DEBKAfile 2002

"An impressive array of diplomats has taken over the overhaul of the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat’s baton, claiming structural reforms are a cure-all for Palestinian terror. The most ardent advocates of this panacea are US secretary of state Colin Powell, European Union foreign affairs executive Javier Solana, Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres, Arafat’s close financial adviser Muhammed Rashid and Ariel Sharon’s new chef de bureau Dov Weisglass.

All the Palestinian leader is required to do is to pick out the reform proposals he likes. As long as he agrees to try them on for size, no one stops him from sending suicide killers against Israelis. In the last two weeks, Arafat has felt free to ignite a new cycle of violence, with the help this time of a new breed of killer – the super-terrorist.

These experts in violence Arafat kept in reserve for the low period following Israel’s large-scale military operation to smash Palestinian terrorist strongholds on the West Bank. DEBKAfile reports from Israel and US intelligence sources that last week’s failed attempt to blow up Israel’s main fuel depot at Pi Glilot was one of the first a series of strategic operations plotted by these super-terrorists, with more to come. While bomb-belted Palestinian youths strike at Israeli crowd centers, the super terrorist goes furtively about his work armed with anti-tank rockets, M-16 assault guns, silenced pistols with telescopic sights, and such gear as wire cutters.

DEBKAfile ’s intelligence sources report that these super-terror cells have come to Arafat’s aid from overseas, sent by Iraqi military intelligence, which maintains bases in the West Bank, and by Imad Mughniyeh, the Lebanese-Palestinian-Iranian terror master, currently employed by al Qaeda. Mughniyeh’s operatives reach Israel by sea or by smugglers’ route from Syria through the Golan Heights. Their contact man on the West Bank on behalf of Arafat is Tawfiq Tirawi, chief of Palestinian general intelligence and commander of the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

The IDF is under constant fire from the Israeli media wanting to know why daily counter-terror operations in Palestinian towns do not prevent the terrorists from stealing out of those same towns to hit Israeli crowd centers.

According to DEBKAfile’s terror experts, the answer is not to be found with the generals, but the politicians and their wooly attitude to terror and its instigators.

US president George W. Bush, for instance, admits quite frankly that he does not like Yasser Arafat, yet he instructs his secretary of state to push ahead with a reform program designed to empower Arafat anew as head of the Palestinian Authority, a regime he has constructed so that the conduct of terrorism is its be-all and end-all.

DEBKAfile’s political and Palestinian sources report exclusively that a secret American team this week began a quiet visit to Israel and Palestinian-controlled areas, assigned by Powell to submit recommendations on the reforms required. Made up of research aides to senior congressmen and state department officials, the team is led by Alan Makovsky, aide to Tom Lantos of California, senior Democratic member of the House foreign relations committee. The group is to perform the spadework for visits to the region by Powell or CIA director George Tenet.

In case the cooks stirring the reform pot entertained any notion of boiling the terrorist elements out of Arafat’s 22 “security” bodies, the London Arabic newspaper Al Hayat Monday, May 27, put them wise as to the only “reform” program acceptable to Arafat.

Chairman Yasser Arafat will retain control of the key post of Interior minister in charge of Palestinian security services.
Deputy interior minister – Muhamad Dahlan, Arafat’s faithful minion in the Gaza Strip, who runs terrorist operation on his instructions.

Four new organs will be established:
1. Internal security, under Rashid Abu Shbak, Dahlan’s deputy and senior terror axe man. The two preventive security services in Gaza and the West Bank will be united under this pair.
2. External security – Amin al Hindi, who was stripped of real authority in the course of the Intifada because he was regarded as too pro-American.
3. Police – Hajj Ismail, current West bank General Security chief, who is completely under the thumb of Arafat and Dahlan.
4. General Security – equivalent to the army. DEBKAfile notes that the creation of a Palestinian army is blatantly in breach of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, which calls for a demilitarized Palestinian state. Arafat is trying to sneak this violation through in the guise of “reforms”. Two candidates for 'chief of staff' are Gen. Nasser Yussef, possibly the only member of Arafat’s regime not engaged in terror, and Gen. Abd Razzaq al-Yahya, a senior tactician of Palestinian terrorism.

The infamous Force 17, a key element of the Palestinian terror machine, will absorb Arafat’s two other private terrorist groups – the Fatah suicide killers’ arm known as the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and the Tanzim militia. In this way, Arafat bypasses the demand to dismantle al Aqsa Brigades.

Most important, Al Hayat is the first publication, aside from DEBKAfile, to openly name Tawfiq Tirawi commander of the al Aqsa Brigades and super-controller of Fatah suicide killers. According to this London paper, Tirawi, whom Arafat kept safe during his months of siege in Ramallah, is slated to command the new consolidated 'security' organization.

Now that Al Hayat has given the game away, it is easier to see why president Bush and Colin Powell talk about the Middle East dispute of late in abstruse, equivocal language. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon seems to have mastered the craft. With one hand, he launched Operation Defensive Shield in April to punch a hole in the Palestinians’ terror strongholds; with the other, he is deploying Weissglass to try and unlock the peace process, with the help of former business dealings with Arafat’s financial sidekick Muhammed Rashid.

The Saudi rulers are in the same double game: This week, they shut down the extremist Palestinian Hamas’s website, demanding a halt to suicide terrorism against Israeli civilians; at the same time, millions of Saudi petrodollars continue to flow into the Hamas terror coffer, while Riyadh actively cultivates its ties with Baghdad, which has planted its own terrorist arm in the West Bank and Israel.

Arafat, behind his act as a broken man hard hit by Israeli military might, could well be laughing up his sleeve at the efforts of Bush, Sharon, Powell, Peres and the Saudi crown prince Abdullah, to throw him a life belt labeled 'reforms', without holding him back from - or even accountable for - the suicidal massacres he is engineering against Israelis in a brutal spiral."