Hamas Briefing

On security in Gaza, Palestinian democracy, the National Unity Government, and the kidnapping of Alan Johnston
The following is an edited and annotated transcript of a discussion between Hamas’s representative in Lebanon, Usamah Hamdan 1, the British Member of Parliament, Rt Hon Michael Ancram QC 2, the Director of London’s Global Strategy Forum, Jonathan Lehrle 3, and Co-Director of Conflicts Forum, Mark Perry 4. The meeting took place at the Albergo Hotel, Beirut, on June 19, 2007. The transcript of this meeting could not be made public – for reasons which become apparent – until the BBC journalist Alan Johnston had been released. Alan Johnston was released in the early hours of 4th July 2007. (A verbatum transcript of this meeting can be viewed here (PDF).)

Michael Ancram: Good to see you. Lots has happened since we last met.5 I guess you have been busy, Gaza has been interesting, I’m keen to hear what has been going on. How do you think things will go?

Usamah Hamdan: I will start from the Mecca Agreement. At Mecca there were three important points. The first one was on the National Unity Government; the second point covered the reform of the security services and called for a new security plan for the Palestinian territories, and the third point was on the reform of the PLO and the new political arrangements inside the Palestinian political body. That means that the relations within the PLO itself, the relations between the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, the internal Palestinian relations.6 And we [in the Hamas movement] went back to Gaza and within one month there was the formation of the national unity government. We started talking about security. There was a security plan that was put forward and that was endorsed by the government and that was then endorsed by Abu Mazen himself as President.7

When we started to apply that [the security plan] on the ground we faced an important problem — which was that the main General in the security service failed to apply and rejected this plan. That was General Rashid Abu Shabak.8 He ordered all the security officers not to receive the Interior Minister without permission.9 So we were not able to make any progress. We were not able to go anywhere and the Interior Minister was not able to order the security service to implement the security plan that was agree to. The Interior Minister was not able to order any security service to apply the plan.10

So because of these difficulties we talked directly to Abu Mazen in April in Cairo and it was a frank talk about this plan which was endorsed by himself and we insisted that the plan that was agreed to be implemented. But he did not promise to do anything. He just said, ‘I will talk with Mr Mohamed Dahlan and then I will give you an answer, and this answer will be inside the territories.’ [That is: ‘I will give you the answer in the West Bank or Gaza and not during a meeting in Cairo.’] He [Abu Mazen] went to Gaza. He had a meeting with the Interior Minister and he told him, ‘I consulted with Mohammed Dahlan and he rejected to apply that [agreed to security plan.] So we reached an end point, we reached a closed point in the security plan. At the same time there was another security plan, which was generated by the Americans, you know [Lt. General Keith Dayton], and the Palestinian Mr. Dahlan and some of our neighbours.

This plan (I think a part of it was published) and all the people knew about it — the politicians knew about it — I think you have a copy of this plan.11 This plan calls for the establishment of a new security force taken from the Presidential Guard. It was supposed to train 20,000 soldiers and they were to be trained in Jordan, Egypt, the UK, the US and in Russia. This was a complete plan and the budget for this plan was about $1.27bn dollars and we followed that up. In Cairo there was training for 500 [Palestinians] at that time — in April. They were talking about training up more than 5000 at the end October and in Jordan they were talking about training about 4000 and outside in the West they were talking about training about 700 officers. They will collect the other members from the security service.12

So they were closing the road for the national security plan and they were having their own security plan. [They were using these plans as a pretext] to give themselves some time.13 They [Fatah] were undermining their own [National Unity] Government and undermining the security plan which we were working on. In order to make the situation more difficult they started disturbing the security in Gaza by some robberies and killings and by supporting some drug mobs and finally the kidnapping of some people, including the journalist Alan Johnston — who was kidnapped by some members of the [Dagmoush] family, who were directly connected to Mohammed Dahlan.14

At this time, in May, we visited Egypt and we talked frankly about what was happening on the ground and we told them [Abu Mazen and other members of the Fatah leadership]: ‘From the beginning of March until the end of May those forces [of Dahlan’s Preventive Security Services] kidnapped and assassinated 40 members from Hamas. Those kidnapped were not militants. Most of them were civilians. Some of them were not only civilians they were working in public issues and it was clear that some of them were students, some of them were engineers.’ But they continued assassinating the people. And you don’t want to investigate. Samir Medhon15 appeared on Palestinian TV and he said ‘well I was responsible for burning 20 houses of Hamas people I am responsible for killing this man and that man.’ He named four names of people he assassinated. So we talked to Abu Mazen and we said ‘you have to arrest him, you have to take him to court’ and he said ‘I’ll try to do something.’ Finally we discovered that he was staying in his house — in Abu Mazen’s house.16

So it was clear what the problem was: this group [the Preventive Security Services] was working on their own agenda. I don’t want to say they were connected to the Israeli’s or the Americans, they were working on their own agenda, which was against the national agenda.17 Abu Mazen was supposed to make a decision. But I believe he could not do that. This is the best thing if you want to say more than this he may be involved in this. I prefer to say he could not do anything. He knew those people were supported by the Americans and the Israelis. And he could not do anything against them.

MA: Was Dahlan involved with them?

UH: Yes, Dahlan was involved with them. I want to add one more thing which is important. Some senior advisors working with Abu Mazen went to Europe and to the United States and some of them went to Arab countries talking to them to stop the support for the national unity government, especially the financial aid. They told them that if they stopped the financial aid that the national unity government would collapse by the end of the year and that that collapse would end the political programme of Hamas and so that would open the road for a new political peace process. For example [Rafir Husseini], he went to Brussels and he talked directly to the Europeans. I think you may have heard of this. Saeb Erekat did the same thing in the United States. When we faced Abu Mazen with these facts, saying we had some recorded things of this, he was angry. He said, ‘I will not accept it. I will not accept it that this man is saying this or that. I am the man who expresses the official position of the President.’ But it was clear that [Rafir Husseini] is his office manager and he was the one who sent him to the Europeans. He did not buy the ticket from Ramallah and go by himself, or on his own behalf. At the same time [Yasir Abed Rabbo] went and he said in public, in the United Arab Emirates, that supporting Hamas will damage the Palestinian cause.

So, we have come to this point. They are undermining the National Unity Government. They are supporting the siege against the Palestinian people. They are undermining the security plan and over that they are doing their best to damage the security in the territories in order to destroy everything. There was no other choice. We had no other choice. You have to make your own step against those people. So our step was very limited. We had to face those generals of the security forces who worked against the national benefits. Our actions were not against Fatah, they were not against the President, they were not against the security forces. We made that step and it was clear that no one of Fatah’s leaders were attacked in Gaza – I’m talking about Gaza. Not one of their offices or their institutions was attacked. Even the security forces; we asked them to leave their offices before any attacks and if they did there were no attacks, there were no killings. For example in Rafah, you can check that, we took over all the offices without shooting anybody

MA: And the Marina?

UH: The marina in Jubalya was the same. For example there were senior leaders from Fatah in Gaza, no one attacked them [Ahmed Hellas, Acre el Avaa, Sufran Abu Zaide] you have dozens of names. More than this, we called them. We knew there is some leaders in the security forces, they were involved in the killings; but we believe we want to solve our problem, we don’t want to complicate the problem. If you guarantee their position we would release them, and that happened. With someone like [Misawa Hallerpersi], who was responsible for the massacre of Al Hidea Mosque, when about 30 people were killed in the mosque, I’m sorry to say this in a way even the Israeli did not do that. It was not as it was done in Hebron [the Hebron Massacre of the early 1990s]. Rather, I am talking about an official security leader, an official security force, they did that in a mosque killing more than 30 people and injuring more than 70 people.

Anyway we said at this point that we have to talk clearly and frankly. The complications in the Palestinian situation resulted from the weakness of Abu Mazen. It resulted from the feeling that the United States and Israel may support may generate a new leadership for the Palestinian people, which is Mohamed Dahlan. And it is the feeling that if Hamas could continue in power, forming the government, having the majority in the legislative council, this may not help the stability in the region. This wrong concept generated this result.

I believe we have to talk about the future. The first point: If you want to deal with the Palestinian people you have to deal with their elected leadership. If anyone thinks that he can generate a Palestinian leadership by financial support and by some political support he will complicate the situation and finally he will fail. And everyone noticed that in Gaza, they could not even survive for three days, even they were supported by the international community by the Israelis for more than twelve years.

Second point: I believe, if you are talking about a solution, if you are talking about stability, you have to deal with a real committed movement, and it was clear in the last two years the most committed movement, for example, to the ceasefire was Hamas, it was not Fatah, it wasn’t any other group.

The third point: I believe they can continue putting the Palestinian people under the siege. But helping Abu Mazen by aid will not help him in front of his Palestinian people. Now — and we will say that in the future — he is a traitor. He is applying the outsider plans, he is doing the steps as the Israeli wants. This will not help him, this will not help his group.

So the solution is clear: To recognize the results of the elections. To respect the Palestinian democracy; to support the Palestinian people to secure the organizations; to secure their democratic systems, and to deal with them directly, talking about peace, security and the political process. This will lead us in the right direction. Otherwise I believe the Palestinian people will defend their rights. They will defend their honor.

MA: How do you get this new process started?

UH: Well we have already started. In Gaza we call for the police to start their work. What had happened? General [Kamal Sheikh], who is the general command for the police, asked all the policemen in Gaza to return to their homes, not to do anything in the streets, and he will pay them their salaries and if anyone went to the street doing his job he will take him to a marshal court. So it is clear that someone is trying to damage the whole situation while you are doing your best to apply the rule of the establishment, the institution. So the first point we have a National Unity government, and this National Unity government is supposed to be supported.

There was a security plan endorsed by the government who are ready to start working on that and I believe we have to work in order to hold a national dialogue conference – all the groups are supposed to be invited – and then we can start our dialogue under the supervision of the Arabs – maybe some other people – but this time this dialogue is supposed to be supervised and there must be guarantees, anything which will be accepted, I mean the Palestinian people will agree it, it is supposed to be applied on the ground. If someone asked how to start the dialogue while there are problems on the ground? We did not say that we are taking over Gaza. We are asking the security forces to start their work back, and the ministers to start their work, they are working now but it is clear this security plan which was generated by [Dayton] and his colleagues will not work on the ground anymore.18

MA: Has Saudi Arabia still got a role?

UH: Well we have talked to Prince Saud al Faisal and we are still committed to the Mecca Agreement and he said that in the Arab League and he said well we believe we have to start from this agreement.19 We appreciate this position and I think it will be a good point to start from. The Syrians support that, the Qatari, the Yemeni’s, the Algeria, the Sudan, I think it’s a good number of states that supported that. Even Amr Moussa he said on the phone that he accepts the idea — that was between him and Khaled Mashal.

Jonathan Lehrle: Is anybody seeing Amr Moussa in Beirut today? He comes in this evening.

UH: He will come in today but [laughter] he probably has enough on his agenda, so this is probably not something that he will think about today.

MA: At the moment if you look at the perception in the world you have very strong propaganda operation on behalf of Abu Mazen, how do you counteract that?

UH: Well, they are repeating the same mistakes when they brought him for the first time as a prime minister, when he came as a prime minister, by their propaganda they convinced all the Palestinian people that he was brought by them to be a prime minister, even Fatah people, they attacked him. When Abu Amar [Yasser Arafat] died and he became the president by their propaganda they showed that he is their man and this damaged him, now they are damaging the remains of his reputation among the Palestinian people. When Condoleezza Rice talked to him on the phone telling him that she supports his steps, when President Bush talked to him telling him that he will lift the sanctions against a government that he had formed, when the support came directly from the EU – this is damaging to all his reputation.

I believe Abu Mazen is losing his legitimacy inside the Palestinian community. And by their acts, by his people’s acts on the ground … in the West bank they attacked 150 institutions related to Hamas humanitarian – educational, clubs, support for sports, mosques, even libraries … so they attacked 150 institutions, they burned them; I’m not saying attack, they damaged the doors, they burned them. They attacked the house of the Parliament Speaker, they burned it, even his family was in the house, they kidnapped 100 members of Hamas, they assassinated one of them, they attacked the elected municipalities. In Nablus they kicked them out and appointed a new municipality from Fatah, and they did that in [Beita] and [Safirt] and several municipalities, all that was done in just five days. And even they said that they have stopped this, up to today they are still attacking the people, destroying and damaging the national institutions.

This shows the people what is the meaning of the security under their rule, what is the meaning of security by their security forces. It is not the al Aqsa brigades who are doing that. It is the Presidential guard, the Preventive Security Services and the intelligence services that doing this.20 I believe if this propaganda continues, if this support continues, this will not help Abu Mazen and it will not help the Palestinian situation.

MA: Just so I’m clear. Your position is if you got back to the Mecca Agreement that would be the position. The conditions of Mecca, that would be a basis for restarting the …. so Mecca is still the basis.

UH: Well, for us Mecca and the Cairo Agreement before that and the Palestinian National Conciliation Agreement which was agreed in June last year. It is still the basis and we are committed to the three of those agreements. I believe it was a temporary step in order to stop this, and to say well we have to apply what we have agreed on, and if there was international support for this I think we can have a new start in the Palestinian situation. And I believe after a while you can talk with a committed and a legitimate Palestinian leadership.

MA: The reason I’m asking is that King Abdullah at the moment is in Spain, talking to the European leaders and he is taking the same view that Mecca must be the beginning. Yesterday we saw President Assad and he is of the same view. I had my foreign spokesman from my party with me and I told him the first message he must get back is that talking must begin again. At the moment if you look at the propaganda, the news, everybody is saying that Hamas is in Gaza so we must forget it and get on with the rest – that that is very dangerous.

UH: Well, they are claiming that we are killing and assassinating the people in Gaza. We said we are ready to have an Arab investigation committee in Gaza. They can come, they can stay, they can see everything on the ground. The one who rejected this is the other side, and I know why: they know what they have done before, they know what they are doing now. I’m not saying that there were no mistakes this last few days. There were mistakes and it is clear we don’t accept that and we will not let the people to do these mistakes again. It is clear we are not defending the mistakes. We are not saying it did not happen. We have the courage to say this was wrong. The main problem is how to apply all the agreements. It is not accepted anymore to make those agreements in the first hours of the day but then not to apply them at the end of the day.

I’m not sure if you have this expression, they say – it is an Arabic expression – it means the talks in the night are done with butter, when the sun rises it will melt again. I’m not sure if you have something like this in English, but we will not accept this situation. If they are really insist to reform the whole situation they have points from which are ready to start from, the Mecca Agreement, Palestinian Conciliation and the Cairo Agreement from 2005. This time we will insist on supervision for this dialogue so everyone can know who is working positively and who is trying to damage the situation.

MA: Who do you see doing the supervision?

UH: Well, as I said we accept the Arab supervision and if there is anybody interested in that we will not say no for anyone.

MA: And how difficult [will it be] for you to see the situation through. Abu Mazen is now given the money and Gaza is cut off?

UH: Well there is an important point; we have to ask a big question. If the international community is interested in having Gaza separated from the West Bank, if they are he can do that, if they are not I think he will not do that. What will happen if they want this to happen? I believe this will give a chance for all the people who are against the democratic processes inside Palestine to say ‘well you have tried, but it is not workable, so there is no real democracy.’ And this will take us back to the position — there is no use to accept this system, there is no use to work with this system, the only solution is to burn up the system. Do you know what this will mean for the whole region? No one will accept the democracy anymore and this will minimize the space for the people who believe in democracy, the democratics, the political Islam. And this will widen the space for the people who talking about burning the system. I believe this will not secure the region.

Mark Perry: If he (Abu Mazen) agrees to the separation of the West Bank and Gaza, he has crossed the red line.

UH: That’s right.

MP: Because no Palestinian could ever agree to the separation of the West Bank and Gaza, just as no Palestinian could ever agree to give up the Right of Return.

UH: That’s right, but if somebody was supposing to cross that line I believe he will lose everything as a Palestinian leadership. No one will respect him as a leader, because the Palestinian people insist for all time on having a united nation, they are still talking about the refugees outside the Palestinian territories, they still talking about the people inside Israel as Palestinians. If you ask anyone, he will not accept the idea of being an Israeli, an Arab-Israeli, he will tell you directly he is a Palestinian. So if he cross that line I think he will lose it.

MA: Very interesting. It has been helpful for me because I’m going back on Thursday and would be able to give some counter-information.

UH: Well, I will try to follow-up today and tomorrow to see if we have some contacts with the Saudis and others, if there is anything new I will try to let you know.

MP: How is the Central Committee with Abu Mazen’s decision?

UH: Well, there are some people who are not accepting that. Abbas Zaki told me frankly that he is basically against that, and I was shocked by that. He told me. But he is a weak man, you cannot count on him, he may change his position from this chair to that chair. And I believe he is corrupted. Two million is not a little piece of money.

MP: What about the others?

UH: Well, Hani al-Hassan, he said clearly that this will damage everything.21 But Hani[‘s position] is weak. Farouk Quddumi he said nothing, he called for keeping the unity of Fatah.

MP: Where is Dahlan?

UH: He is in Ramallah, he was in Egypt, he was in Taba.

MP: I understand that there was a telephone call in which a colleague of Abu Mazen’s said that Abu Mazen said that he wished that Dahlan would stay in Egypt. And this colleague said that Abu Mazen said he hoped that Dahlan had been humbled and that maybe all that would happen is that Salam Fayad would resign but the government would stay intact. The plan, I had heard, was for Dahlan to stay in Egypt, but when I woke up next morning to hear that Abu Mazen had dissolved the government and that Dahlan was in Ramallah, I assume the Americans put him there?

UH: That’s right. Abu Mazen has problems. His main problem is that he is a weak man, that he can’t make decisions and he is under pressure now but that does not mean he is not responsible. He has some responsibility but he is not acting as a president. Well they prevented him coming to Gaza four days before the clashes. He talked to Ismail Haniya on the phone and said he told him I am coming and will not leave before solving the problem. Then two days later…

MP: Usamah, all he has going for him is the internal security service and the Presidential Guard and Mohammad Dahlan, he doesn’t have the rest of them.

UH: That’s right.

MP: At the end of the day Abu Ala is broken.

MA: What if he has money to hand out?

MP: You know what, the Americans will not deliver. Any money will go astray, into condominiums, that money will not reach where it is supposed to.

MA: You mentioned, it is a small thing but could be quite important in Britain. You mentioned that Alan Johnston’s captors were a family…

UH: The Dagmoush family.

MA: That they were associated with Dahlan. Would Dahlan have known?

UH: Yes. He knew this, he does. And for three times we came to the point to release Alan Johnston and by telephone call from [Samir Musharawi], who is Dahlan’s man, they stopped that.

JL: And what about now, because Hamas gave a deadline?

UH: Well now, in one point which we are working on is to have the man secure and safe. If you did anything wrong they may hurt him so we are making the pressure, slowly in order to have him released. We are talking for some senior members of the family, telling them this will not help the whole family, and they have to play a role, they can’t cover their backs while they are kidnapping this man.22

JL: And their response from them, they understand, they are listening to this seriously?

UH: Yes, well I believe so. It is dangerous, so can’t make a militant attack against them, but you have to pressure them slowly, slowly in order to have this man released. The most important thing is that our people know him well (Alan Johnston), they know him well. I’ve talked yesterday to our [person there in Gaza], he saw him dozens of times, not in public, he visited him in his office. They respect him. They believe they have to do the job slowly in order not to hurt him.

1. Usamah Hamdan is a senior member of the Islamic Resistance Movement and is the Hamas Representative in Lebanon. [back]
2. Michael Ancram is a United Kingdom Conservative Party politician and Member of Parliament for Devizes. In May 1993, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office. In January 1994, he was appointed Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office. In September 2001, he was appointed Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs; in November 2003, he also become Shadow Secretary of State for International Affairs. Until December 2005, he was Shadow Secretary of State for Defence and Deputy Leader of the Party. He has been a regular interlocutor with Hamas and Hezbollah officials as a guest of Conflicts Forum in Beirut. [back]
3. Jonathan Lehrle is the Director of the London-based Global Strategy Forum, an independent think-tank which researches and stimulates discussion on international and security issues largely, but not exclusively, from the standpoint of the UK national interest. In 2001 he was appointed Chief of Staff to the Shadow Foreign Secretary and Deputy Leader, Michael Ancram QC MP, a position he held until December 2005. The transcript of this interview was provided by Jonathan Lehrle. [back]
4. Mark Perry is an American author and historian and Co-Director of Conflicts Forum, an international organization that seeks an opening to political Islam. [back]
5. Ancram, Lehrle, Perry and Conflicts Forum Founder and Director, Alastair Crooke, had a private meeting with Hamdan in Beirut during the first week of April, 2007. [back]
6. This was stated in order of priority. That is to say: at Mecca, the parties agreed that the overriding issue was for Fatah and for Hamas to agree to a security program prior to shaping any political agreements. The two parties said that they would present their programs for a security arrangement in the first weeks after the conclusion of the Mecca Agreement. [back]
7. The security plan adopted by Hamas called for a single security service comprised of elements of the Hamas armed militia integrated with elements of the standing Fatah militia security services so that there would be a single security service acting under the lead of an interior minister accountable to an elected Palestinian president. Disarmament of independent militias, it was believed by the Hamas leadership, could go forward once the security plan was agreed to. [back]
8. Rashid Abu Shabak was named by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the head of P.A. Preventive Security for the West Bank and Gaza on April 28, 2005. A close associate of Mohammad Dahlan, Shabak gained his reputation as a tough commander by identifying and turning over collaborators for execution to the security services. However, his reputation is mixed, at best. For instance, he arrested Akram Muhammad al-Zatma for identifying the whereabouts of Hamas leader Saleh Shahedeh (who, along with his family, was killed) to the Israelis — though it is likely that Zatma, who was executed, was innocent of the charges. Shabak’s number two was Samir al-Mashharawi, a Fatah official close to the Central Committee, deployed by Abu Mazen to help Shabak. In the wake of the Hamas parliamentary victory in January of 2006, Mashharawi was given responsibility for a series of street confrontations through March, April and May of 2006 that pitted Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade cadre against the Popular Resistance Committees — competitors with Fatah for power in Gaza. [back]
9. Rashid Abu Shabak’s line-of-command is to the President through the head of the National Security Council. The head of the National Security Council is Mohammad Dahlan. The Interior Minister at the time of the controversy over the security plan was Hani al-Qawasmeh. Mr. Qawasmeh threatened to resign several times over Mr. Abu Mazen’s refusal to accept the agreed-to security plan, telling Mr. Abu Mazen that Mohammad Dahlan was thwarting the implementation of the plan. His resignation was refused twice before being accepted on May 14. [back]
10. As the head of the Preventive Security Services, Rashid Abu Shabak takes orders from the head of the National Security Council. The head of the National Security Council is Mohammad Dahlan. Mr. Dahlan reports directly to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Fatah-only Preventive Security Services — according to the Washington Post — were set up under Mohammad Dahlan to counter the forces of the Executive Services — the Hamas militia — and were comprised of 6000 officers and enlisted Fatah personnel as of June 1 of 2007. The number are uncertain, but the total numbers of PSS and Presidential Guard personnel answering solely to Mohammad Dahlan are thought to be between 16,000 and 20,000 persons. None of them belong to Hamas. The position of Hamas has always been that their 6000 man “Executive Force” should be integrated into the security services. [back]
11. The plan was published in the Jordanian weekly newspaper, Al-Majd and detailed in an article in Asia Times entitled, “Document Details US Plan to Sink Hamas.” [back]
12. At one point the US and Jordan considered arming and retraining the “Badr Brigade” a stay-behind unit of the Palestine Liberation Army in Jordan and deploying it to the West Bank. Israel would not agree to the deployment. [back]
13. It has been reliably reported that the Mr. Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian General Intelligence Chief, was working on behalf of Saudi Arabia to make certain that the security plan was implemented. After a period of paralysis in April, Suleiman planned for a number of meetings between the groups in Cairo in May. But throughout May and into early June, Suleiman was becoming impatient with the lack of progress of both sides in implementing a viable security plan, despite the pressure he was putting on them. As violence mounted in Gaza, Suleiman became increasingly disturbed by attempts to undermine what he viewed as attempts to create instability in Gaza — which would endanger Egyptian assets in the Gaza Strip. During the first week of June, Suleiman convened a meeting of the parties in Cairo to address these incidents. According to an article in the authoritative Al-Ahram Weekly: “The Egypt-Fatah-Hamas meeting ought to conclude in agreement on three issues — the commitment of both sides to work towards a firm end to mutual incitement, either in respectively controlled media or mosques; the effective execution of a detailed plan to collect uncontrolled arms within each group, especially those in the hands of second and third cadres leaders; and firm enforcement of the decisions of the leadership of both factions.” Hamas came with two other demands — first, that Egypt control the actions of Mohamad Dahlan and Rashid Abu Shabak and that the arming of Fatah by the United States and friendly Arab government be suspended. The talks did not proceed: Fatah officials said they would not meet with Hamas officials in Cairo and canceled their attendance at the meetings. [back]
14. The Dagmoush family of southern Gaza is a large criminal clan headed by 28-year-old Mumtaz Dagmoush. The family is involved in car theft, arms smuggling and extortion. It has been used in the past as a means for Fatah to spread its control through the Gaza Strip during the Israeli occupation — providing a natural cover for fighters and political figures wanted by the Israelis. “The Army of Islam” — the group that was holding Alan Johnston — is simply one, albeit radical, arm of the family. Parts of the family have provided support for the emerging Popular Resistance Committees. Mohammad Dahlan’s ties to the family are well known: Dahlan’s base of support is in Khan Yunis, where he was born and raised, and where the Dagmoushes have powerful influence. The Dagmoush clan is implicated in the kidnapping, last year, of four British citizens. [back]
15. This is Samir “the hammer” el-Madhoun who, on Wednesday, June 13, found himself surrounded in the Palestinian Presidential compound in Gaza by Hamas gunmen. Madhoun and several of his compatriots fought their way out of the compound after Madhoun taunted the Hamas platoon that had him surrounded: “I will give you until 3 this afternoon to surrender,” he shouted. The next afternoon, stopped at a Hamas roadblock, he was recognized, mobbed by a pro-Hamas crowd and executed. Madhoun earned the nickname “hammer” because he liked to execute Hamas officials by hitting them on the head with a hammer. [back]
16. In Abu Mazen’s house in Gaza. [back]
17. Hamas officials have taken over the Interior Ministry buildings in Gaza, as well as the Presidential Compound as well as the headquarters of the Preventive Security Services. They have reported discovering files and computer discs of “a highly sensitive nature.” There are five different categories of information, according to published reports: first, Preventive Security Service files of communications with American officials of an unspecified nature; second, Preventive Security Service intelligence leadership files on Hamas and other Palestinian leaders; third, lists of Hamas officials targeted for assassination; fourth, files on the personal lives of Palestinian officials and their wives and daughters that were intended to be used or that have been used for the purposes of blackmail; fifth, general U.S. and Palestinian intelligence files of an unspecified nature dating back many years. An official in Abu Mazen’s office noted: “If these files are thorough, then Hamas will know just about every secret [that we have]. That means, the requests of foreign nations, funding, meetings, joint operations, you name it.” [back]
18. Usamah Hamdan and the Hamas leadership are here endorsing the security plan that resulted from the National Unity Government but which was not implemented. [back]
19. As of June 29, the Saudis have said publicly that they still retain their support for the National Unity Government. Their endorsement was followed by that of the head of the Arab League. Egypt and Jordan have endorsed the government of Abu Mazen. Syria has called for dialogue. [back]
20. The head of military and security intelligence in the West Bank is Tawfik Tarawi, formerly designated by the Israeli government as one of “the Muqata terrorists.” Tarawi now maintains extensive files on Hamas, its networks in the West Bank, and its reach inside the religious community. His new headquarters, near the Presidential Compound, has — on its third floor — extensive files on each Hamas member and cell. Tarawi’s operation is said to be supported by American funds. [back]
21. On June 27, senior Fatah leader, Hani al-Hassan, spoke out in an interview on the pan-Arab TV network, al Jazeera, where, Al-Ahram Weekly reports, “he argued that the recent showdown in Gaza was not a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas but one between Hamas and the Dahlan faction…. Following the interview, representatives of the Dahlan faction called Abbas, pressuring him to fire and punish Al-Hassan, while masked gunmen opened fire on his home in Ramallah. Al-Hassan was not in Ramallah during the attack.” [back]
22. BBC reporter Alan Johnston was released by the Army of Islam on July 4, 2007. [back]


  1. […] Such rantings may pass for journalism in the NYT, but they’re utterly removed from reality. The Gaza withdrawal had nothing to do with “peace”, but rather a realisation that Israel simply couldn’t sustain an ongoing occupation to protect only 8000 settlers. The result of the “withdrawal” was the strangulation of the Strip, resulting in the current Hamas take-over (a fascinating recent interview with the group’s Lebanon representative is well worth reading.) […]

  2. Mohamed wrote:

    It is very clear Abu Mazan became a puppet of Israel supporting Dahlan’s murderous activities. The way things are moving its quiet predictable that Dahlan will not resist to tuor away Abu Mazan with the support of US and Israel if he didn’t support his thougery works.

    We should appreciate the strategic moves of Hamas and we should thank conflict forum for its effort.

  3. I salute the honourable and just struggle of the Brothers & Sisters in Hamas. I also note Mr. Ancram’s enthusiasm for Hamas to work with the House of Saud. The first Party of Empire [and Balfour] have had a long love affair with the Beni Saud clan, I am sure you will treat them with scepticism. Remember the Muslims and the oppressed, and you will reap rewards in this life and the next.

  4. […] Read the annotated transcript >> […]

  5. Keeley Cullip wrote:

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

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