Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas

Jordan Television has finally showed some members of Hamas confessions to conspiring against the security of the country. The terrorists looked composed and in good physical condition. They were not handcuffed, and they even got to keep their beards, which in the past used to be shaved for such occasions. Their identities can be easily verified by individuals such as Sami Khouri, who employed one of them and is lucky to still be alive.

JTV also showed a scary arsenal of weapons which the terrorists brought in from Syria. It looked like what might be used to start a war, not simply to carry out a few terror operations. The government is convinced there is more out there, and is demanding that Hamas help Jordanian authorities find them. Presumably the head of Palestinian intelligence, Tareq Abu Rajab, was given details and specific questions that should be answered.

To me, the issue of attempted sabotage and interference in the Jordanian affairs is simply the price we pay for being in the Middle East. It is unacceptable, but it is a fact of life. What really bothers me is that parties that purport to be Jordanian and interested in the welfare of the country are blatantly siding with Hamas. The initial excuse was that the government is not giving any evidence. So, here is evidence. Does it change the mind of the fundamentalists in Jordan? Of course not. The head of the IAF, Zaki Bani Irshaid told Al Jazeera that "Confessions are always extracted under torture, and some defendants who have been convicted based on such coerced evidence have subsequently been acquitted". He made this statement before airing the confessions, indicating that no amount of evidence would ever change his mind.

Now, I have argued before that sewing suspicion in the motives of the government and security services encourages terrorists, since being caught will end up embarrassing the authorities in Jordan more than the terrorists themselves. To that argument, I would add now that we have a full blown fifth column in Jordan. It is clear that the MB are defending Hamas as if they are defending themselves. Any self-respecting Jordanian who cared about the welfare of the country should stand up and tell Hamas to keep their hands off of Jordan. Smuggling weapons into the country, monitoring the movements of members of security forces and tourists and planning to commit terror is not a game, and this should not be a subject for political football. Naseem is right is saying that people are living in a state of denial. Before the terror in Amman, some members of the IAF toyed with the idea of installing Abu Musaab Zerqawi as their leader. How many November 9's are needed for us to wake up?



At 12:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance of posting the video ?


At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How would you answer the Hamas statement that they have not even targeted Israeli civilian officials abroad and that it would thus be unthinkable that they would target jordanian officials.

what do you think hamas had to gain from destabilizing jordan?

BTW: i am not coming from the position of total denial of the government charges, but still i would be interested in your analysis, which i often find rational.

At 4:44 AM, Blogger الخليج العربي Arabian Gulf said...

بالنسبة لموضوع حماس والاردن ,اعتقد ان الموضوع اصبح واضح للاردنين ,وان الادلة هي كافية لمن اراد احتاج الادلة , نحن اليوم في قرية صغيرة وهؤولاء الاشخاص ضهروا على التلفاز وأكيد ان هناك الالاف من البشر يعرفونهم ,لذا لا يمكن الفبركة .
اذن موضوع حماس اصبح واضح لم اراد أدلة ,المشكلة الان فعليا هم الاخوان المسلمون الذين لم اعد اعرف هل هم حزب اردني ام حزب عالمي ام ماذا؟اعتقد انه لا تجوز ان تبقى الامور هلامية في الاردن يجب ان يكون عندنا في الاردن خطوط واضحة للاحزاب السياسية ترسم حدودها وهذا هو ما يعرقل تطويرالتنمية السياسية في الاردن وقانون الاحزاب الجديد وقانون الانتخابات البرلمانية لانه مرتبط بقانون الاحزاب

At 5:58 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon 1: Sorry. Ma Yin3az.
Anon 2: Hamas is not working alone as before, but is part of an alliance working with Syria and Iran. I might add that Hamas is a junior partner in this alliance. Whereas Hamas' activities have thus far been mostly in Palestine, the history of Iran and especially Syria has been full of covert terror against their neighbors, although not against Israel.

Joining an alliance means adopting common strategies and techniques. I think you get my point.

Hassan: I totally agree.

At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having watched the confessions in full, I could not find a 'Hamas' imprint anywhere on the confessions. I did find the Al-Qaeda imprint everywhere:

1. Coercion/blackmail (if you do not join we will expose you, while Hamas works on volunteers as their list of martyrs confirms)
2. Material enticement (offering 150JD instead of 100JD a month)
3. Ignorance (confusing Jew with Christian)
4. One of the confessors was in Iraq for jihad and his friend died there (is Hamas fighting in Iraq too?)

Linked with the story that the Jordanian government has hosted the Syrian 'opposition' which admits to start a campaign of assasination and terror inside Syria (link the story posted below), the story of Hamas reaches full circle:

For in order that Jordan hosts the Syrian opposition, it needs to have a justified reason. This reason is provided if Jordan can claim to be fighting Syrian fire with fire, i.e. Syria supports a terror campaign in Jordan, so Jordan responds (justifiably) with the like.

Knowing that Jordan has become a fulcrum in the American Greater Middle East agenda, the story can be comfortably put into perspective. For Jordan elects to work closely with the American agenda, but the Jordanian public opinion has to be convinced of every step first, all the while finding excuses that divert the public from the bigger picture.

Thus the government escalates the Hamas episode when it sees the public opinion is staunchly against it and sees its credibility shrink. Given the pre-requisite of rallying the people behind the government before it takes the next step (inviting the Syrian 'opposition' in), the government escalates further in a bid to win the public's support.

If anyone has seen the picture of the weapons cache, they will realize that there were around 100 Kalashnikovs on display. Now given that the campaign involved assasinating Jordanian officials, I do not see the need for that great a number of machine guns. It seems idiotic to spend money on a tactically useless weapon for the purpose of your operation.

If indeed Hamas smuggled those weapons on, it seems more credible to claim that those weapons were intended to be smuggled into the West Bank. Now that story is more believable, and the number of Kalashnikovs seems to be appropriate for such a purpose.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The link to Natasha's story is here:

At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further, given that anyone can claim to be a member of Hamas, the only party to confirm the status of the claimants is Hamas itself. Of course this can given Hamas the ability to shoot down any well-built case by denying someone caught is a member. This is unacceptable of course.

The way to circumvent this is to face Hamas' denial of the membership of those individuals is to reveal the name of the handler of the leader of this group, who we are told resides in Syria and is a military leader in Hamas and to reveal other information about Hamas that are not currently in public.

But the problem with this is that cells are constructed in a way that sensitive information does not percolate to the lower ranks of the movement and those 20 individuals might not know anything about Hamas in the first place.

Given the secrecy of the cells, it is also justifiable to think that any person can break into the chain of command whereby I can claim to be a Hamas handler and start convincing young ignorant men from poor areas to join the ranks of the movement and begin planning a terrorism campaign in Jordan. Knowing the oath of Hamas, and having some of their material at hand is sufficient to prove my credibility to those newly recruited and ingorant individuals.

This, some say, is what happened in the Rabat and Riyadh bombings - the initial target was a place for Westerners to meet, but the 'handler' (who was a Moroccan and Saudi intelligence officer respectively) changed the target. Given that there is no parallel chain of command to confirm an order, a change in order will go undetected by the receiving and transmitting ends.

In other words, it is possible that someone posed as Hamas to those individuals and recruited them. The fact that those individuals seem to posses Al-Qaeda's thinking (and previous action) rather than Hamas' would have required a handler who is proficient in the Al-Qaeda's rhetoric rather than Hamas'.

Now we all know that Al-Qaeda has been infiltrated and dissected by all interested intelligence agencies. Thus finding a handler who can appeal to Al-Qaeda's sympathizers is rather easy and it seems this is what happened here.

For all those who do not believe conspiracies occur, what are your justifications for why every country has an intelligence agency? Further, did Wadee' Haddad die of a chocolate bar he ate? Or Arafat died of natural causes? Or indeed, was Misha'al going to die of the same natural causes if we did not find his killers?

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, Wadee' Haddad was indeed killed by a Belgan chocolate bar that was brought from Belguim as a gift from a Palestinian Mossad agent in 1978. The bar of course was injected with an Israeli poison. No one until last week knew that Israel had assasinated him.

Here is a link to the story:

P.S. Khalaf, apologies for flooding your blog but ideas come in parts and not in one go :)

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Omar said...

As I was watching the confessions, I thought for a second that it's Al Qaeda, and I came up with the same first points Rami wrote above,

I will speak up a plain opinion about this:

If the evidences were less or more than what they looked like, it won't cause those who already chose to believe the government to stop believing it.

If the evidences were less or more than what they looked like, it won't cause those who already chose not to believe the government to stop not believing it.

I have argued before that the whole settings were made to create "we have a full blown fifth column in Jordan", a column that will be accused of betrayal once he tries to express what he sees a clear truth in such a sensitive case, and it indeed was created.

To connect Hamas with al Qaeda is enough for some to say that its a ploy,
To see all the enemies of America and Israel convicted and coming in one package is also enough for some,
To mention what Rami said, is more than enough for some,

the bottom line is, arguing now will put you in "a state of denial", and will recruit you directly in that "fifth column". And because I love Jordan, and I'm ready to become a terrorist who'll defend the soil of Jordan, I'll keep my mouth shut.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Rami: You have some interesting ideas. I am confused as to whether you think that Al Qaeda is the culprit, or that the Jordanian government made up the story to justify interference in Syria. These are two very different theories. The only common thread between them is trying to exonerate Hamas.

Omar: Simply stated, there is no evidence more compelling than a confession, with plenty of details. Stubborn refusal to accept ANY evidence that might implicate Hamas is not a sign of an open mind. It is a sign of denial and ill will. Your professions for love of Jordan would be better manifested by a clear rejection of terror, rather than protecting the terrorists.

At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: I was searching for alternative stories to the official one which has received its dues in terms of coverage. I cannot add anything useful by seconding the official story and nodding so better search for better uses of my mind.

My ideas are not tamed and I wasn't attempting at providing a fool-proof theory, just two alternatives that can be expanded on.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Rami: Theory 1 (the Al Qaeda posing as Hamas theory).

This theory is the more interesting one, as it would explain some of the commonalities you point to. The implication of this theory is that the Syrians posed as Hamas members and provided the weapons. The Syrians deny Al Qaeda presence in Syria, but the Americans don't believe them. This theory would suggest that this link exists. It is acknowledged by all that Hamas has a presence in Syria, and the case for Al Qaeda having such a presence has not been made. I can picture that it is more easy for Hamas to transfer weapons through Syria than for Al Qaeda to do the same.

The commonalities that you point to would suggest that trainers in Syria use the same approach for both groups.

Theory 2 (An excuse to interfere in Syria). I have more trouble with this theory from a number of view points. First, if this were the case, the government would emphasize the Syrian role in the whole affair rather than emphasizing Hamas' role. Nasser Joudeh has gone out of his way to emphasize that Syria and Iran are not accused.

Another problem with this theory is that it assumes that any hosting of anti Syrian regime activities will be made public and would require public endorsement. I simply can't see that happening. Nobody is that stupid. Activites against the Syrian regime, if they were to take place from Jordan, would be totally covert. From a geographical perspective, I imagine that Lebanon would be a better base for such covert activities. The Jordanian-Syrian border can easily be monitored because of the topography. On the other hand, the Lebanese Syrian border is mountainous and rugged, and close to the hearland of Syria (Damascus, Homs, Hamma, Tartous and Lathiqia). My guess is that Jordan's involvement in such an operation (in such an operation is indeed real) would be secondary.

Both theories suffer from the fact that the do not answer two important questions. First, why did the Hamas government refuse to send representatives to look at the evidence? Remember initially they promised to investigate the matter, but seem to have lost incentive. The second question is why did Khaled Mishaal change his posture on his position from that of denial to that of justification? His latest stance is that there is nothing wrong with smuggling weapons (although he still denies wanting to use these weapons against Jordan).

At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How would you answer the Hamas statement that they have not even targeted Israeli civilian officials abroad and that it would thus be unthinkable that they would target jordanian officials."

BTW This is quite simply called the non-denial denial. It allows them to distance themselves from something but not later be called on it specificially. It's one of the oldest political tricks in the book. They started with the "it was Hamas-Syria" strategy now they are floating this. Regardless of who said what to who, this is an organization. If one member/wing/faction strikes out, his fingerprints indite the whole.

At 6:48 AM, Blogger Jason said...

I share the skepticism about the claim that Hamas would target Jordan. The "why not" is because Hamas, even just for its social welfare programs, still needs to operate through different states in the region, including supporters in Jordan, an unprovoked attack on Jordan would result in a devestating crackdown on the movement's followers here, and it has never shown any inclination to take its nationalist struggle beyond the borders of Israel and Palestine.

If there is a paradigm shift, now is not the time to act on it, as Hamas needs all the help it can get, and it wouldn't make sense to provoke the Jordanians at this time of intense pressure.

I don't doubt that Hamas smuggles weapons through Jordan. That is a well-known fact. And i dont' think the Jordanian government fabricated the weapons story, although maybe they are exploiting it more than they need to. But for Hamas to use weapons on Jordanian targets? It just doesn't add up...unless you stop looking at Hamas as a unified whole.

There are different factions in Hamas, and there are increasing differences in the statements coming from the leadership in Gaza, that in Isreali prisons and that in Syria. So when you talk about Hamas, you increasingly have to say about which Hamas you are speaking of.

A little twist on the comments by Rami: Perhaps there was a break in the chain of command within the Hamas movement. So instead of someone posing as a Hamas member and being from a security agency or al-Qa'ida, maybe it signifies some kind of split within Hamas.

This could be from within the political leadership in Syria, or from the military wing in Syria. Perhaps some of these guys are being radicalized and even influenced by some of the al-Qa'ida talk, without them necessarily being affiliated with al-Qa'ida. There may be hardliners in Hamas who disagreed with the movement's participation in elections and small steps towards recognizing Israel, who seek to provoke a crisis that will force Hamas to return to its more radical roots.

Mishal has seemed a little annoyed at times to see Haniya and Zahhar and these other guys taking the spot light from him. Maybe it has to do with some very basic power struggles within the movement. But I don't see the political leadership in the Territories as benefiting in the least, or having any interest whatsoever in provoking Jordan.

Just a thought...

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I would go a step further and accept that there might be a rogue group within Hamas, but would not share your analysis that there is a power struggle within the group (the transition of power has been immaculately peaceful whenever leaders were assasinated, both first line and second line leaders).

If the break in chain of command did occur and someone acted as an entrepreneur-terrorist, then that would mean Hamas is losing discipline. And as this is the first time a loss of discipline (if indeed it is) I would need to see a proof beyond doubt. You know that people will judge based on either side's goodwill (or badwill) capital when the situation is grey - the sheperd wasn't believed when he decided to tell the truth for once because he earned the people's mistrust (yes, earned it, like the government did here).

Your analysis on the Hamas (inside) is good - I agree.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Jason and Rami: Since Jason made this statement "I don't doubt that Hamas smuggles weapons through Jordan. That is a well-known fact. And i dont' think the Jordanian government fabricated the weapons story, although maybe they are exploiting it more than they need to. But for Hamas to use weapons on Jordanian targets? It just doesn't add up...unless you stop looking at Hamas as a unified whole", and Rami agrees, then the issue becomes who in Hamas, and whether Hamas is responsible for the actions of an infiltrated or rogue operation.

To me, a genuine gesture of good will would be for Hamas to explain what happened and to punish those involved.

I have said in the post that there are parties in the area who would like to interfere in Jordan and undermine it's security. The point of the post was to highlight how the MB would stand by such parties, and provide them with political and public relations cover. None of the speculation that you are making alters this reality.

At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: You are framing my agreement in the way that suits your interests. I agreed with Jason that Hamas has no reason to target Jordan and that if I am to take a step further (which I also said I do not feel comfortable doing) then at most there is a renegade group without Hamas that acts on its own (a break in chain of command).

Yet, after thinking about what I wrote earlier, I realized that I needed to clarify the 'someone posing as Hamas' theory. I did not mention who I think that party would be because I thought it would've been obvious but as it is not, I will list them here:

1. Al-Qaeda recruiting in Jordan in the name of Hamas, after its drop in popularity and its need for more credibility. Thus it poses as Hamas.
2. The Jordanian Government who wants to set Hamas up.
3. A Hamas entrepreneur who wanted to take initiative without consent of the leadership. Thus they posed as Hamas.

Clearly, Jason renaming it as 'break in chain of command' applies to (3), and as such, the break in chain of command does not summarize my theory well.

Again, I was not endorsing (3) but saying it is a possibility, although I also said I find it very difficult to give it a high probability given Hamas' history of discipline.

Further, what makes (3) less likely is the fact that Hamas has no military wing outside of Occupied Palestine, and this is evident from the lack of military operations outside the theater of war since its inception.

For me to believe that Hamas has an "outside" military wing I would heve to see far, far more detailed and valid proof than the half-proof video we saw on TV.

P.S. In an earlier post you asked for Sami Joudeh to be sacked. I second your request, he is a prep-school material and is full of arrogance in his answers. He certainly lacks the wisdom of handling the PR file - he put our expectations so high and the video we saw did not live up to his promises.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Rami: The days will reveal more. I still reject the MB's knee jerk defense of Hamas. BTW, they are constantly going to the jails to defend Al Qaeda criminals as well. They side by anybody who would hurt Jordan.

At 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: "They side by anybody who would hurt Jordan."

MB sided with the government in Black September in 1970, they also sided with the government in the East-West conflict (Jordan was counted by the Leftists to be a reactionary monarchy that should be abolished). You are wrong to rewrite history now.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Just ancient history. There is little in common between now and 1970.

At 6:20 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Rami and Khalaf: Is is so hard to think that Hamas may be losing its internal dicipline, given the enormous pressures it is under? I don't say this is definately happening, but you can see some loss of discipline just in the contradictory statements of Haniya and Mishal.

Others have questioned how long the political leadership will be able to control the military elements of Hamas in Palestine.

So maybe power struggle was too strong a term, but i don't think things are the same in the movement since they came to power. But rouge elements is definately a better term.

About a military wing for Hamas outside Palestine, I never really thought about it before, but in the confessions the suspects referred to Hamas "military" people in Syria from whom they received training (i don't remember the exact words)

on the possibility of al-Qa'ida or Jordan government involvement, it maybe so on either count, but it just seems to easy to look to them for blame. Al-Qa'ida especially has become the bogey-man behind every terrible act in the world, so I'm always most skeptical about these kinds of claims.

Either way, i think Khalaf's suggestion that Hamas could have done more to explain its take on events other than that it was a Jordanian setup, and the MB probably still sees itself more as part of "the Islamic Movement" then it is to Jordan.


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