Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S)

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1 Speciall Infforrmatti I ion Bulletti in July 2004 Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S) The martyrdom culture as nurtured by the Palestinian Authority in Chairman Arafat s era Abstract Palestinian martyrdom culture has been nurtured by the Palestinian Authority and the various Palestinian terrorist organizations. Accordingly, neighborhoods, streets, squares and institutions in the cities of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been named after leaders of terrorist organizations and terrorist operatives who died in the course of the violent confrontation with Israel. The purpose of nurturing such culture is to preserve the name and legacy of those who played meaningful roles in the military-terrorist activity against Israel and turn them into role models for the young generation of Palestinians. In some cases, when the personalities in question were leaders of terrorist organizations, the approval was granted by Yasser Arafat himself. For example, in one of the documents seized by the IDF, Yasser Arafat authorizes (in his own handwriting) the governor of Tulkarm to rename Tulkarm s Paris Street (one of the city s major streets) into Al-Shahid [martyr] Abu Ali Mustafa Street. It should be recalled that Abu Ali Mustafa was the secretary-general (i.e., leader) of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who supported and encouraged armed activities against Israel (no wonder, then, that nowadays, PFLP s operative-terrorist wing is named after him).

2 Al-Shahid Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades the emblem of the Popular Front s operative-terrorist wing. It bears the well-known sign of the original emblem the red color, the map of Palestine and the arrow showing the direction of activity coming from the Kingdom of Jordan. The addition is the two crossed assault rifles, a clear symbol of a militarist/terrorist organization. An image of Abu Ali Mustafa on a t-shirt distributed to children and teenagers; a caption over the head of Mustafa reads: You shall remain forever etched in the hearts of the people Oh, Abu Ali [Mustafa] And the caption below the image reads: You have our pledge and you have our loyalty A postcard sticker with the image of Abu Ali Mustafa (right) distributed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as part of its efforts to turn the terrorist leader into a role model for Palestinian youngsters. To the left of his image, below the picture of four operatives who died in battle, the caption reads: NO to the arrest of [the operatives who take part in] the active resistance! 2

3 General characteristics Palestinian martyrdom culture has been nurtured by the Palestinian Authority and the various Palestinian terrorist organizations. Accordingly, neighborhoods, streets, squares and institutions in the cities of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been named after leaders of terrorist organizations and terrorist operatives who died in the course of the violent confrontation with Israel. The purpose of nurturing such culture is to preserve the name and legacy of those who played meaningful roles in the military-terrorist activity against Israel and turn them into role models for the young generation of Palestinians. The shahids commemoration industry focuses both on leaders who died in targeted killings (Fatah s Abu Jihad; Sheikh Ahmed Yassin of Hamas; Fathi Shiqaqi of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Abu Ali Mustafa of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) as well as the operative echelon, including those who dispatched terrorists and those who actually perpetrated acts of terrorism and died in the course of the violent confrontation (such as Yahya Ayyash of Hamas, or Mahmoud Tawalbeh of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad). Thus, for example, in the city of Jenin, known as a prominent center of Palestinian terrorist attacks in general and suicide terrorist attacks in particular ( the capital of suicide bombers ), squares are named after former Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin; after Yahya Ayyash ( The Engineer ), who stood at the top of Hamas operative wing and was responsible for a wave of deadly terrorist attacks in Israel in ; or after the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, commemorating five wanted terrorists who were killed by the IDF. A mosque in Jenin is named after Mahmoud Tawalbeh, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad senior operative who dispatched squads of suicide bombers who perpetrated murderous terrorist attacks in densely-populated areas in Israel, and a hall in Jenin s city hall is named after the shahids of the violent confrontation with Israel (Shuhada al- Aqsa). 3

4 A document seized by the IDF reveals that the policy of commemorating shahids in street and square names is inspired by the late Yasser Arafat at least when it concerns the top echelon: for example, on September 10, 2001, about two weeks after Abu Ali Mustafa s death in a targeted killing by IDF forces, Yasser Arafat authorized the governor of Tulkarm to rename Tulkarm s Paris Street after Abu Ali Mustafa, in response to an appeal from the governor of Tulkarm (see Appendix A). In 1960 s and 1970 s, Mustafa Ali Qassem Zubairi (Abu Ali Mustafa) was one of the heads of the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Jordan and Lebanon. He was involved in terrorist attacks abroad, including the kidnapping of a Lufthansa airplane (1972). In May 2000, Abu Ali Mustafa was appointed secretary-general (i.e., leader) of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in which capacity he encouraged and supported armed struggle activities against Israel. In the course of the violent confrontation, he died in a targeted killing by IDF forces on August 27, The decision to name a street in Tulkarm after Abu Ali Mustafa was approved by Yasser Arafat about two weeks after his death. Nowadays, the military-operative wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine carries his name. The naming of the street in Tulkarm after Abu Ali Mustafa is yet another example of the martyrdom culture that thrives in the Palestinian society in the course of the Palestinian-Israeli violent confrontation, crossing the boundaries of organizations and affiliations. Alongside Yasser Arafat s approval to name a main street in Tulkarm after the shahid from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), this organization has undertaken, in the years of the violent confrontation, a propaganda effort of turning Abu Ali Mustafa into an object of admiration and role model, especially for young Palestinians. One manifestation of this effort is an industry of souvenirs commemorating Abu Ali Mustafa (including publications, t-shirts with his portrait, postcard stickers, compact discs etc.). Combined with the above is the fact that the Popular Front s operativeterrorist wing carries his name, as noted. 4

5 A poster featuring images of shahids of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; prominent among those (upper right) is the image of Abu Ali Mustafa. The pictures in the poster are of various Palestinian shahids who were members of the PFLP. In the lower (middle) part of the poster, the caption reads: Those who died as shahids in battle for the sake of Allah [al-istishhadiyyun (usually, this term denotes Palestinian suicide bombers) are]: the most noble and the most loyal the best of men they were born revolutionaries they lived as fighters and they left [this world, i.e., died] as shahids 5

6 Appendix A Yasser Arafat authorizes the governor of Tulkarm to rename Paris Street in Tulkarm after Abu Ali Mustafa translation The Palestinian National Authority Interior Ministry Tulkarm District President s [Yasser Arafat s] Office Incoming mail no September 9, 2001 Outgoing mail stamp: PLO The Palestinian National Authority President s Office, September 10, 2001 Outgoing mail no To: The distinguished brother, President Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat] the General Commander, may Allah protect him Blessings of commitment and loyalty. Mr. President, I would like you to [personally] order the renaming of Paris Street in Tulkarm 1 into Al-Shahid Abu Ali Mustafa Street. May Allah grant you success for the sake of the sons of the shahids, their families, the wounded and the imprisoned and all the sons of Palestine May Allah protect and guard you Your brother, Brigadier General Izz al-din al-sharif Governor [of the district] of Tulkarm [Note: Izz al-din al-sharif (Abu Ziyad), governor of Tulkarm] 1 One of Tulkarm s main streets, now named after Abu Ali Mustafa. 6

7 Yasser Arafat s handwriting and signature: Approved. September 10, 2001 A handwritten instruction by Izz al-din al-sharif, the governor of Tulkarm, to Tulkarm s mayor: Greetings, You are required to implement the decision of the President [Yasser Arafat], may Allah protect him. May Allah grant you success. Your brother, Brigadier General Izz al-din al-sharif [governor of Tulkarm]. September 10, 2001 Copies: Director-General of [the Ministry of] Local Authorities Representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine 7

8 Yasser Arafat authorizes the governor of Tulkarm to rename Paris Street in Tulkarm after Abu Ali Mustafa original document 8

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