Abbas Promotes Terrorist Mastermind to Major General

Recalling that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was the financier of the Munich Massacre and other murderous terror attacks against Israel, it should come as no surprise that Abbas has promoted a terrorist who masterminded the murder of 3 Americans (and many others) to Major-General rank (2 stars):

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has promoted a man who commanded a Palestinian terror unit to the rank of major-general. Mahmoud Damra, commander of Yasser Arafat’s personal guard and terror unit called Force 17, was responsible for the planning and logistic coordination of numerous terror attacks in which many people were killed. Among those killed in the terror attacks he commanded were US citizens Esh-Kodesh Gilmore and the couple Binyamin and Talia Kahane in the year 2000. He has been imprisoned by Israel since 2006.

The following is from the Palestinian daily Al-Quds:

“President Mahmoud Abbas decided to promote the prisoner Mahmoud Damra, [known as] Abu Awad, commander of the ‘President’s Security Force 17,’ to the rank of major-general.” [Al-Quds, March 6, 2010]

As an interesting aside, in most armies Major Generals typically command divisions (10,000+ soldiers) or at least brigades (usually around 5,000 soldiers). It is clear that Damra, who merely commanded a terror unit, will never command that many troops even if Israel makes the mistake of releasing him from prison. So the rank is either purely ceremonial or an example of the fantasy rank-inflation seen in many third-world despotic cultures. See, for example, Manuel Noriega of Panama, who promoted himself to be a full, 4-star general despite commanding only 16,000 troops. This is the same rank as Eisenhower had for much of the time he was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

In contrast, Israel has more normative ranking of its commanders, with the Israeli Chief of Staff being the IDF’s only Lieutenant General (3 stars). Moshe Dayan, Israel’s chief of staff in the 1950’s when the army was smaller, had the rank of Major General.

Abbas’ New Anti-Corruption Panel: Covering His Tracks?

This blog previously posted a piece by Khaled Abu Toameh concerning PA theft of hundreds of millions in foreign financial aid. Many such cases of corruption were exposed by intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh, previously designated by Abbas as the Palestinian Authority’s “chief corruption-buster”. Shabaneh was later discredited and sacked when he collected evidence which apparently got too close to incriminating dozens of senior officials, as well as Abbas’ two sons. Shabaneh, as Abu Toameh reported, “is now ‘wanted’ by the Palestinian Authority on charges of ‘collaboration with the Israeli enemy.’”

Khaled Abu Toameh reports for the Jerusalem Post that now president Abbas has appointed a new commission of inquiry regarding corruption in the PA. The question must be asked — Is Abbas’ new anti-corruption panel simply an act of covering his and his sons’ tracks?:

A special commission of inquiry established by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to investigate a series of corruption cases in the PA…

The commission was set up after former PA intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh… exposed several cases implicating top officials in sexual, financial and administrative corruption…

Shabaneh, a resident of east Jerusalem, said he has little faith in the commission of inquiry, which is headed by Saleh Ra’fat, secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Palestinian Communist Party.

The other two members of the commission are Ali Muhana, chairman of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, and Natsheh, the PA official who was recently appointed as Abbas’s “personal representative.”

All three members of the commission are known for their close ties with Abbas and the PA leadership in the West Bank – a fact that has left many Palestinians to believe that the panel’s main goal is to exonerate all of Abbas’s men of any wrongdoing.

The word “whitewash” comes to mind.

77 Fatah Men Off Wanted List: Reward for PA?

Theater of the absurd: Israel has stopped hunting some terrorists as a reward for (allegedly) getting help stopping terror:

Correspondent Khalid Abu Toameh reports in The Jerusalem Post that 77 Fatah men were taken off Israel’s wanted list as reward to the PA. [This is not a parody.]

Israel has decided to stop pursuing dozens of… members of Fatah’s armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Palestinian sources said on Tuesday.

Israeli security officials recently handed the Palestinian Authority a list that included the names of 77 Fatah operatives who were no longer wanted by Israel, the sources said.

Most of the men are members of the armed group of Fatah, which was responsible for a series of attacks on Israelis during the second intifada, the sources said.

They said that 10 of them had been fully pardoned, which means they would be able to move around freely and even travel abroad.

Some of the Fatah men were told that they would have to remain inside their homes during the night, while others were instructed to sleep at PA security installations.

A list with the names of all the pardoned Fatah operatives was posted by the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency. Most of the men are from Ramallah and Nablus.

The decision to stop chasing the Fatah men was not the first of its kind. In recent years, dozens of Fatah gunmen who agreed to hand over their weapons to the PA and renounce violence were also granted clemency. Some of them later resumed their activities and were either killed or arrested by the IDF.

The latest Israeli move is seen as a reward for the PA leadership for its increased security coordination with Israel

What is so absurd about this is that those 77 terrorists were almost surely worth much more than whatever alleged cooperation was given by the Palestinian Authority to Israel. Should the PA have turned them over to Israel if they were really cooperating? And shouldn’t they have turned down this “reward” if they were really interested in helping stop terror against Israel?

PA Still Stealing “Hundreds of Millions” in Financial Aid

It is well known that the Palestinian Authority has been a kleptocracy from the very beginning. And Hamas is no different; see, for example, Hamas Stealing Aid Supplies to Sell to Gazans. But still it helps to keep bringing to light the ongoing examples, as columnist and commentator Khaled Abu Toameh does when reporting that the PA is still stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid:

Donor countries have yet to respond to revelations by former Palestinian intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh that some of Mahmoud Abbas’ close aides had siphoned off to private bank accounts hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for financial aid to the Palestinians.

Shabaneh expressed frustration over the way the international media has been handling his exposures: “Don’t the Americans, Europeans and Arabs care about their money that is being stolen?”

A former PA minister convinced Abbas and Arafat to give him about $5 million of international aid so that he could purchase land in Jerusalem “before Jews lay their hands on them.” Shabaneh’s investigations showed that the minister deposited most of the money in his private bank account and built a huge, luxurious villa on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Shabaneh also discovered that a former PA finance minister had deposited $8 million in his private bank account.

These are only a few… of the hundreds of cases Shabaneh dealt with when he was in his job, according to the former Palestinian intelligence official, who is now “wanted” by the Palestinian Authority on charges of “collaboration with the Israeli enemy.”

Shabaneh says that since Abbas appointed him as the chief corruption-buster in the Palestinian Authority six years ago, he has collected incriminating evidence against dozens of senior officials, in addition to the president’s two sons, Yasser and Tarek.

Abbas, meanwhile, has cut off Shabaneh’s salary to punish him for speaking out against corruption…

Actually, there is a bit of cosmic justice here. Many nations who helped foist the PA on Israel, all in the name of a very dubious peace. It therefore gives some pleasure to see those nations’ billions in financial aid to the PA being flushed down the drain.

Peres Compares Fayyad to Ben Gurion

Last Tuesday’s session of the highly-regarded Herzliya conference featured Israel’s president Shimon Peres’ speech where he lauded PA prime minister Salam Fayyad, praising him for his efforts to establish a Palestinian state.

Peres hailed Fayyad comparing him to David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

Ynet notes:

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been compared to David Ben-Gurion more than once due to his pragmatic policy, which has been manifested in his plan to establish a Palestinian state within two years.

Weeks before he was showered with lavish praise by Peres, Fayyad led a group who tossed products manufactured in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria into a fire and authorized funding for families of terrorists who launch attacks against Israeli civilains and soldiers alike.

Fayyad made demands for a complete freeze of Jewish construction “in settlements, and in eastern Jerusalem” during his Herzliya speech and declared that PA would establish a state in mid-2011.