Ahmed Abu Adas, Jund al-Sham and Mossad? (by t_desco)
The recent discovery of several Israeli spy networks in Lebanon could have some surprising implications either for the Hariri case or at least for the case of the 14 bombings, killings and assassination attemps which are also being investigated by Serge Brammertz.
In a bizarre twist, Hussein Khattab, a Palestinian member of the spy ring, who is still at large, is the brother of Sheikh Jamal Khattab, an Islamic cleric who has allegedly recruited Arab fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq.
(Lebanon exposes deadly Israeli spy ring,The Times, June 15, 2006)
The list of persons connecting Hussein Khattab to Ahmed Abu Adas is remarkably short: Hussein is the brother of Sheikh Jamal Khattab who works closely with Sheikh Abu Obeida who allegedly met with Abu Adas in Ain al-Hilweh.
Of course, this is not evidence of any link, but it's certainly something worth looking into.
There are two quotes in the first Mehlis report which link Abu Adas to Sheikh Abu Obeida. Mehlis dismissed the first (§80 and §197) as being little reliable (the Al-Ahbash Security Service had reported that Adas "often went to Ein al Helwa" and that he visited Abu Obeida who is described both as "deputy to the leader of Jund al Sham" and as "deputy leader of the terrorist group Asbat al Ansar"), but the German prosecutor never addressed (or explained) the second:
81. ... The Lebanese investigation further revealed that Mr. Abu Adass had been employed at a computer shop in the summer of 2004, which was owned in part by Sheikh Ahmed Al-Sani, who was a member of the Ahmed Miqati and Ismaíl Al-Khatib network.
Ahmed Salim Mikati was a member of the Dinniyeh group headed by Bassam Ahmad al-Kanj who was killed in an uprising in the mountains of Dinniyeh in January 2000. The surviving fighters found shelter in Ain al-Hilweh. The group is said to have merged into Jund al-Sham. According to Bernard Rougier's excellent study on Salafi extremism in Palestinian refugee camps, al-Kanj was a religious teacher of Abu Obeida (also called Jihad Mustapha) (Bernard Rougier, "Le jihad au quotidien", Paris 2004, p.213).
While Sheikh Jamal Khattab is imam of the al-Nour Mosque in Ain al-Hilweh and an Islamist leader in the camp, Hussein Khattab belonged to the PFLP-GC:
According to Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, Khattab was a member of the Palestinian Popular Committees and was the public relations' official in South Lebanon.
(Israel keeps silent over the capture of a Mossad network in Lebanon, Al-Manar, June 14, 2006)
His brother seems to have intervened when Hussein was detained on suspicion of being involved in the killing of Jihad Ahmad Jibril in 2002:
L’un des individus toujours en liberté est un réfugié palestinien, Hussein Kh. (Khattab), âgé de quarante ans et né dans le camp de Aïn el-Héloué. Il avait été arrêté et libéré à deux reprises par les autorités libanaises et syriennes, notamment dans l’affaire de Jihad Jibril mais l’intervention d’un cheikh de Aïn el-Héloué auprès d’un homme de religion libanais a pu le libérer des prisons syriennes.
(La porte piégée du véhicule ayant servi à l’attentat de Saïda a été préparée en Israël, L'Orient-Le Jour, 14 Juin 2006)
According to Defense Minister Elias Murr, "the investigation has yet to find any link between suspect Mahmoud Rafeh, the alleged leader of the network, and a string of assassinations in and around Beirut since October 2005".
However, Khattab is "believed to have commanded a separate Israeli network in Lebanon", and Rafeh has confessed to transporting bombs across Lebanon since the Spring of 2005. It is unclear so far what has happened to (or what was done with) these bombs:
Security sources quoted by As-Safir newspaper Thursday said Rafeh confessed to transporting explosives across Lebanon in briefcases since early 2005, but were unable to determine the end result of the explosives as Rafeh was allegedly tied to more than one Israeli network.
(Murr gives army full credit for cracking terror network, The Daily Star, June 16, 2006)
Al-Manar provides a more detailed account:
Investigations with Lebanese Mossad agent, Mahmoud Rafea continued, and revealed that Rafea had since the Spring of 2005, delivered bombs in black suitcases, to several locations in Beirut, its eastern suburbs, Mount Lebanon and the South. Meanwhile, security forces are still after Palestinian Mossad agent, Hussein Khattab, who is now suspected of leading a Mossad network of his own.
Rafea admitted he had delivered, since the Spring of 2005, bombs in black suitcases to different locations, in eastern Beirut, Mount Lebanon, South Lebanon. Security Forces however did not yet determine how these bombs were used.
Apparently the operations of Rafea and his network intersected with the operations of other Israeli Mossad networks. Security Forces are focusing on this new information, while seeking to capture Rafea's partners, on top of which is Palestinian Mossad agent, Hussein Khattab.
According to reports, Khattab might be leading a Mossad network of his own, that carried out a series of assassinations and bombings, other than those committed by Rafea's network.
According to Assafir daily, the Israelis might have unclosed Rafea and Khattab's networks to each other, to carry out the assassination of Jihad Ahmad Jibril, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command in 2002. Previous Israeli assassination attempts failed to harm Jibril, and therefore efforts of more than one network had to be combined to kill the man.
(Lebanese authorities still searching for the rest of Mossad network, Al-Manar, June 15, 2006)
So far Al-Manar is also the only source mentioning Ghaleb Awali as one of the persons killed by the network:
Beside the Majzoub brothers assassination, Rafea and his Mossad network assassinated Hezbollah officials, Ali Saleh and Ghaleb Awali, Jihad Ahmad Jibril of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command and Abu Hasan Salameh, as well as other security operations which will be revealed for the first time.
(Lebanese Army to release a detailed statement on capturing an Israeli Mossad network, Al-Manar, June 13, 2006)
This is interesting because at the time a statement in the name of Jund al-Sham had been issued claiming responsibility for the killing.
The then leader of Jund al-Sham, Abu Youssef Sharkiah, denied the claim. (Lahoud blames Israel for assassination, The Daily Star, July 20, 2004)
He has since relinquished his authority over the group as "disputes" emerged "between its members over plans for bombings and assassinations". (Jund al-Sham collapsing under Fatah and state pressure, The Daily Star, January 05, 2005)
Other statements by Jund al-Sham "criticized Shiites and Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as "unbelievers." " (Group vows to avenge anti-Islamic attacks, The Daily Star, June 30, 2004)
In July 2005, Jund al-Sham faxed a threat to assassinate several prominent Hizballah allies and leaders, including former spiritual leader Sayyed Hussein Fadlallah, to the Shiite Fatwa Center in Tyre. (Can al-Qaeda’s Lebanese Expansion Be Stopped?, Emily Hunt, February 6, 2006)
This raises the question if Jund al-Sham may have been manipulated by Israeli intelligence and their Lebanese agents (or, alternatively, if the group may have been used as a cover for their operations).
In October 04, 2005, As'ad AbuKhalil was left bewildered (and supposedly angry...) by "an alleged threatening flyer by Jund Ash-Sham": "I read that flyer, and it does not sound like Jund Ash-Sham at all. ... The flyer does not contain any of the religious language that one usually finds here. This flyer was written by a secular Arabic speaker."
Regarding the 14 bombings which are being investigated by Brammertz, in particular the eight explosions in public places, Jund al-Sham has claimed three of them:
In their sixth statement, Jund al-Sham (Soldiers of Levant) claims responsibility for the three bombings in Lebanon, “challenging the crusaders once more.” ...
The three explosions Jund al-Sham references seem to be those that occurred in the Christian sections of Lebanon during the past week. Three people have been killed, and three more injured.
(Jund al-Sham (Soldiers of Levant) Claims Resonsibility For the Three Bombings in Lebanon, SITE Institute, March 29, 2005)
Finally, Jund al-Sham also famously issued a threat to assassinate Detlev Mehlis while he was working on his final report:
Akkar, Lebanon- A group calling itself Jund El Sham, threatened to slaughter German Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, who is heading a U.N. team investigating Rafik Hariri's assassination. The group also threatened to slaughter members of the reigning Lebanese authorities.
(Jund El Sham Threatens to kill Mehlis, 6 October, 2005)
Some remarks on the second Brammertz Report
In my opinion, Brammertz does not exclude the possibility that an Islamist group was responsible for the bomb that killed Rafik Hariri. This isn't the main focus of his investigation, but he does not discard the possibility, e.g.:
40. On the other hand, one single team alone might have conceived of the idea to kill former Prime Minister Hariri, conducted the reconnaissance and surveillance, prepared the claim-of-responsibility video, acquired the explosives, acquired and prepared the Mitsubishi truck, used an individual as the trigger mechanism, and executed the operation. Based on this hypothesis, the number of participants may have been relatively small.
§47 calls for "intricate knowledge of the motives, means and methods of "suicide bombing" in the region".
§50 makes clear that, "pending final DNA results from recently collected evidence at the crime scene", Ahmed Abu Adas wasn't "the individual who initiated the detonation of the IED, as stated in his claim of responsibility" and that he also wasn't present at the crime scene".
However, in an intriguing passage Brammertz states that:
The Commission does not exclude the possibility that he was involved in other aspects of the operation beyond his participation in the making of the claim-of-responsibility video message.
This could mean that was an active participant in the crime and not a passive victim of kidnapping. It also raises the possibility, however faint, that he is still alive.
§54 features "extremist ideologies" as being among the "possible motives of those who commissioned the crime".
Finally, there is also a (possible) allusion to Jund al-Sham, or rather, to the alleged terrorist cell consisting of 13 members detained in January 2006:
57. The Commission is further examining the possibility of one single group, with a singular intent and capacity, having committed the crime. For example, the Commission continues to develop its knowledge concerning individuals who are, or who have been, in the custody of the Lebanese authorities, allegedly as members of terrorist groups. This area of its investigations remains ongoing, and focuses on the links, intent, capacity and motivations of these individuals.
Some of the 13 suspects have claimed to be members of Jund al-Sham. (Lebanese authorities arrest 13 Al-Qaeda suspects, The Daily Star, January 14, 2006)