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First Al Qaeda-Fatah Operation Misses Target: German Diplomat

DEBKAfile December 21, 2002

German diplomat and member of European Union Commission
Christian Waldrahs was saved by his bulletproof jeep from an assassin’s bullets,
fired as he came out of Jenin Fatah commander Mussa Kadura’s home on Saturday,
December 21.

DEBKAfile‘s military
and counter-terror sources report that Waldrahs has the unhappy distinction
of being the first target of an al Qaeda assassination plot executed by a
Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades operative against a Western diplomat on Palestinian
territory.

The masked gunman waited for his prey
outside Kadura’s home. He starting shooting his Kalashnikov assault rifle
at close range but not fast enough. The German diplomat was able to drive
off at top speed, heading for the nearest Israeli military roadblock to ask
for help.

As one high-placed Israeli security
source put it: “We now have living, incontrovertible proof of operational
collaboration between al Qaeda and Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades”. To cover
up the giveaway episode, Fatah spokesmen in Jenin hurriedly claimed Saturday
night that their operative had admittedly opened fire, but had mistaken the
diplomat for an Israeli undercover agent. This is an unlikely tale, say our
sources; Waldhrahs resides in Jenin and is a well-known figure in the Palestinian
town.

DEBKAfile’s sources tell a different story.

At a time when Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon confirmed that a few al
Qaeda operatives had reached Palestinian areas – most entering the Gaza Strip,
al Qaeda and its Lebanese hosts, the Shiite Hizballah, were in the process
of building up a presence and intensifying their activities in the Palestinian
West Bank.

Furthermore, starting in November,
al Qaeda units in the south Lebanese Palestinian refugee camp of Ein Hilwa,
began funneling funds to the Jenin branch of the al Aqsa Brigades. It was
carried over by Mounir Maqdah, commander of an Ein Hilwa Palestinian militia.

Since then, al Qaeda has been badgering Fatah
“Martyrs” to start giving value for the money sent them, i,e, to stage terrorist
attacks not only against Israelis but also against the Westerners active
in Palestinian areas, many of them on humanitarian missions.

For Waldrahs, who is on a mission for the European Union, this turn of events
was as disturbing as it was for Israel. He is in Jenin to manage Europe’s
contribution for the reconstruction of the parts of Jenin destroyed in the
IDF’s large-scale counter-terror operation last April. He suddenly discovered
that the Palestinians he was aiding, while receiving funds from Europe, were
also taking money, as well as operational directives, from the notorious
Islamic fundamentalist terror organization.

Determined
to check out his discovery, the German diplomat called Saturday afternoon
on the Jenin Fatah secretary. No one outside Kadura’s immediate circle knew
he was coming or the object of his visit. Only the tightest coordination
between that circle and al Qaeda would have made it possible for the assassination
plot to have been set up at such speed.

DEBKAfile
was the only publication to report the participation of al Qaeda and Hizballah
fighters in the major battle that took place in Jenin last April. Since then,
we have consistently maintained that Osama bin Laden’s organization is present
in territory controlled by Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. Official
sources have slowly confirmed this. Now, those same DEBKAfile
sources find the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in league with al Qaeda. The two
have joined forces to drive Israelis out of Palestinian areas but, most of
all, to strike at Westerners and Western interests.

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