Abbas appeals to Israel to send him arms and allow him to beef up his personal security. Their reward? He appoints a murderer to be in charge
Comments, State Department?
The Jerusalem Post reports:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided on Tuesday to appoint a security officer who had been accused by Israel of involvement in terrorist attacks as overall commander of his Force 17 "presidential guard" in the West Bank.
The decision to appoint Col. Mahmoud Damra, also known as Abu Awad, comes only days after Israel agreed to provide weapons and ammunition to Force 17 following increased threats on Abbas's life.
PA officials told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas approved the appointment of Damra in a presidential decree issued just before he left Ramallah for Tunis. They confirmed that Damra was on Israel's list of wanted terrorists, but claimed that the charges were "baseless."
"Damra is a senior Palestinian officer who was very close to the late Yasser Arafat," said one official. "He did have a role in the revolution and in the struggle against Israel, like most Palestinians. But today he is committed to the peace process and he supports President Abbas."
Damra was one of several fugitives who sought shelter in Arafat's Mukata compound in Ramallah in 2002 after Israel accused him of masterminding terrorist attacks. Damra was then commander of the Ramallah branch of Force 17 and was in charge of protecting Arafat and his top aides.
Israeli security officials said then that, since the beginning of the intifada in September 2000, Damra had led a terrorist cell in the Ramallah area that carried out deadly attacks, including shooting at vehicles, attacking communities and IDF positions and planting bombs.
Ed Lasky 5 31 06