August 22, 2007.
American-run programs that train Fatah militias were instrumental in the
“success” of the Palestinian intifada that began in 2000, a senior Fatah militant
told The New York Sun.
“I do not think that the operations of the Palestinian resistance would have
been so successful and would have killed more than one thousand Israelis since
2000 and defeated the Israelis in Gaza without these trainings,” a
senior officer of President AbbasÂ´s Force 17 Presidential Guard unit, Abu
America has longstanding training programs at a base in the West Bank city of
Jericho for members of Force 17, which serves as de facto police units in the
West Bank, and for another major Fatah security force, the Preventative
This weekend diplomatic security officials announced that the State Department
will begin training Force 17 again this year in an effort to bolster Mr. Abbas
against Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip in June when the terror group
easily defeated American-backed Fatah forces in the territory.
Under an agreement signed this month by Secretary of State Rice and
Palestinian Arab Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Force 17 officers are slated to
take course work and conduct VIP protection exercises under the State
DepartmentÂ´s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
The new training program aims to help the Palestinian Authority “deliver
security for the Palestinian people and fight terrorism, build confidence between
the parties, and ultimately help to meet the security needs of Palestinians and
Israelis alike,” a State Department press release said.
The training program, which includes courses in the use of weapons, paid with
$86.5 million in funding granted to the Palestinian Authority by Congress in
Many members of Force 17 and the Preventative Security Services also openly
serve in Fatah’s declared “military wing,” Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which took
credit along with the Islamic Jihad terror group for every suicide bombing in
Israel between 2005 and 2006. The Brigades is responsible for more terrorism
from the West Bank than any other Palestinian Arab organization.
Abu Yousuf, the Force 17 officer, received American training in Jericho in 1999
as a member of the Preventative Security Services. He is a chief of the Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades 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 the leader of the ultranationalist Kahane Chai organization, Benyamin
After the Kahane murder, Mr. Yousuf was extended refuge by Yasser Arafat to
live in the late Palestine Liberation Organization leader’s Ramallah compound,
widely known as the Muqata. Mr. Yousuf still lives in the compound.
Prime Minister Olmert last month granted Mr. Yousuf amnesty along with 178
other Brigades leaders reportedly in a gesture to Mr. Abbas.
Speaking during an interview for the upcoming book “Schmoozing with
Terrorists,” Mr. Yousuf said his American trainings were instrumental in attacks
on Israelis. “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.”
Mr. Yousuf said the training included both intelligence and military tactics.
“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,” he said.
“On the military level, we received trainings on the use of weapons, all kind of
weapons and explosives. We received sniping trainings, work of special units
especially as part as 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
Mr. Yousuf seemed to anticipate criticism for speaking publicly about the
training. He’s not “talking about U.S. training in order to irritate the Americans
or the Israelis and not in order to create provocations,” he said. “I’m just telling
you the truth”.