Terror boss named top PA aide

Security force of "holy warriors" to be formed under Interior Ministry control.

said siyam 88 (photo credit: )
said siyam 88
(photo credit: )
Jamal Abu Samhadanah, the overall commander of the Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip, was appointed on Thursday to a senior post in the Palestinian Authority Interior Ministry, which is formally responsible for the Palestinian security forces. Abu Samhadanah, 43, has been wanted by Israel for many years because of his role in a series of terrorist attacks on IDF soldiers and Jewish settlers. The Popular Resistance Committees, which were formed shortly after the intifada began in 2000, comprise several militias, including Fatah, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal said Abu Samhadanah was appointed to the newly created job of general inspector in the Interior Ministry after being awarded the rank of colonel. It was not clear at this stage what Abu Samhadanah's responsibilities would be or whether he would reappear in public. Interior Minister Said Siam met earlier this week with leaders of various militias in the Gaza Strip, including Abu Samhadanah, to discuss ways of restoring law and order. At the meeting, Siam announced that he had decided to establish a new security force that would assist in ending anarchy and lawlessness. The new force, according to the minister, would consist largely of members of armed groups in the Gaza Strip who would report directly to his office. He said the new force's task would be to reinforce the PA security forces. Khaled Abu Hilal, the interior ministry spokesman, said Siyam was also forming a new security branch that would be answerable only to him to bring law and order to the Palestinian streets. "This force is going to include the elite of our sons from the freedom fighters and the holy warriors and the best men we have," he said. "It's going to include members of all the resistance branches." Sources close to the minister told The Jerusalem Post that the force would actually consist of Hamas militiamen who would operate parallel to the PA security forces. "We're talking about several thousand Hamas fighters who would become part of a new security force under the command of the Interior Minister," said one source. "We must not forget that the Palestinian security forces consist solely of Fatah members who are refusing to cooperate with the new Hamas administration." Siam on Thursday summoned clan leaders to a mosque in Gaza City, where he warned them against sheltering criminals and murderers. The minister said he was determined to impose law and order and stop the upsurge in internal violence. "We will confiscate the weapon of anyone who threatens innocent people," he stressed. "Anyone who uses weapons of the resistance in internal disputes will be punished severely." He also warned that anyone who raised a hand to a policeman would be punished harshly. Known by his nickname Abu Ataya, Abu Samhadanah was born in al-Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in 1963. In the 1970s, his family moved to the Rafah refugee camp, where his father and brother were arrested for the first time by the IDF for security offences. One of his brothers, Saker, was killed by the IDF in Lebanon in 1975. Another brother, Tarek, was killed during the first intifada in 1987. Since the early 1970s, Abu Samhadanah has been an active member of Fatah. In 1982 he fled to Egypt and, from there, to other Arab countries. He returned home with the PLO after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994. In 1997 he was expelled from Fatah for participating in a demonstration against financial corruption in the PA. Since then he has been carrying out attacks against Israel together with a large group of disgruntled PA security officers and Fatah activists. The Popular Resistance Committees, which he founded and has headed for the past five years, was also responsible for the 2003 attack on a US diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip in which three Americans were killed.