By Aaron Klein
Dramatic escalation in cooperation between Israel’s foes
JERUSALEM – Egypt is concerned Israel could be in a conflict in the very near future with Syria or the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, a senior Egyptian security official told WND.
The security official said in any future war with Syria or Hezbollah, both actors have been preparing to storm the Israeli border with guerillas and commandos, an act unseen here since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the last conflict in which Syria was openly involved.
In previous conflicts with Hezbollah, the terrorist group fired rockets into Israel.
In addition, the security official said Syria has separately been contemplating launching low-grade attacks against Jewish communities in the Golan Heights to pressure Israel into negotiations aimed at relinquishing the strategic territory.
The official said his country is concerned about a coming conflict but did not mention a specific timeframe.
“It’s possible either side may misinterpret moves and launch the opening salvo very soon,” he said.
The official also said Israel is concerned Syria has recently passes advanced weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon. He said his country believes Israel may want to engage in a conflict with Hezbollah to minimize that group’s capabilities before any future strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Hezbollah could be used as part of Iran’s strategy of retaliation against Iran in a future war, the official said.
Recent weeks have seen a war of words between Israel and Syria, as well as a dramatic escalation of public cooperation between Israel’s foes Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Last month, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, that any war with his country would topple his regime.
“Assad should know that if he attacks, he will not only lose the war. Neither he nor his family will remain in power,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman was responding to a Syrian threat against Israeli cities one day earlier.
“Israel knows that if it declares war on Syria, such a war will reach its cities as well,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said following a meeting last week with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos.
Syria has long demanded the Golan Heights as part of any deal with Israel. The Golan looks down on Israeli population centers and twice was used by Damascus to launch ground invasions into the Jewish state.
Last week, Syria hosted a summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and Khaled Meshal, head of the Hamas. All participants expressed solidarity with each other and vowed the destruction of Israel.
The meeting was followed up with another confab in Iran last weekend entitled “Islamic and National Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The summit was attended by the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria. All three again denounced Israel.
Six children and one wife of Osama Bin Laden have reportedly been living in Iran since fleeing Afghanistan shortly before 9/11. His 17-year-old daughter recently escaped to the embassy of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s traditional rival.
By Scott Peterson
Seven members of Osama bin Laden’s immediate family have been under house arrest in Iran and living in a high security compound outside Tehran since 2001, news outlets reported on Wednesday.
The group includes six children of the Al Qaeda leader and one of his wives, all of whom reportedly fled Afghanistan and walked to the Iran border just prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, according to The Times in London.
One 17-year-old daughter, Iman, escaped from from the Tehran compound and has been holed up in the Saudi Arabia Embassy for 25 days, according to the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.
The asylum request – and public revelations about the continuing Bin Laden family presence in Iran – are sure to complicate relations between the two traditional rivals for power in the Middle East: Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.
During his first term, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on a charm offensive to woo Saudi and other Arab leaders. But Iran’s rising influence and that of its “Axis of Resistance” – with Hezbullah, Hamas, and Syria – raised concern in Riyadh and other Arab capitals.
The disputed June election was final proof for many in the Arab world that Iran’s regional power was on the wane again. For Saudi Arabia, evidence of that came just last week when it was able to precipitate an unlikely meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an Iran ally, and Lebanon’s pro-West Prime Minister Saad Hariri – who for five years has accused Syria of killing his father.
US turned down Iranian offer for Al Qaeda operatives
One of Bin Laden’s oldest sons, Saad, was known for years to be among some 35 Al Qaeda operatives that fled to Iran after the US toppling of the Taliban government and expulsion of Al Qaeda from Afghanistan in late 2001.
The government of President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) eventually offered to indirectly exchange those Al Qaeda figures with the US, if Washington would rein in, or hand over, leaders of the anti-Iran Mujahideen-e Khalq. Known as the MEK or MKO, the anti-Iran group considered a terrorist group by the US State Department was based in Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s wing. But the members there fell under the jurisdiction of American forces after a US-led coalition toppled the Hussein regime in 2003.
Iran’s offer was rejected, according to reports at the time, because the Pentagon wanted to keep hold of the MEK as a possible force to be used against Iran in any Washington-orchestrated bid for regime change.
Bin Ladens’ presence off the radar
Still, it was never made public that so many Bin Laden family members were in Iran. The Washington Post reported in October 2003 that Saad bin Laden had “emerged in recent months as part of the upper echelon of the Al Qaeda network … that is managing the terrorist organization from Iran,” quoting US, European and Arab officials.
The story held that Saad bin Laden was “protected by an elite, radical Iranian security force loyal to the nation’s clerics and beyond the control of the central government” – the Qods Force of the Revolutionary Guard.
Reports emerged earlier this year that Iran had quietly released Saad bin Laden in late 2008, and let him go to Afghanistan.Then it was reported in July that he had been killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan.
But the presence of so many Bin Laden relatives in Iran was a surprise. The Times of London has reported that 11 Bin Laden grandchildren also lived on the compound.
“Until a month ago, we did not know where the siblings were,” Omar bin Laden, the fourth son who lives in Qatar, told Asharq al-Awsat. “The Iranian government did not know what to do with this large group of people whom nobody else wanted, so they just kept them safe…. For that we owe them much gratitude.”
A top Russian official confirmed the existence of a contract for the supply of MiG-31 fighter jets to Syria but said work on the planes had been frozen, the daily Kommersant reported on Thursday.
“Consultations on this contract are now ongoing, so its future is unclear.”
Kommersant reported in May that Russia had halted work on the modernisation of the fighter jets at the Sokol aviation plant in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.
But Russia’s state arms exporter has dismissed such reports as rumours.
The 400-500 million-dollar (280-350 million-euro) contract for the delivery of eight MiG-31s fighter jets was inked in early 2007, according to Kommersant.
It cited sources close to the arms exporter in May saying the supplies of the planes had been frozen under pressure from Israel over fears the weapon sales could offset the balance of power in the region.
According to a a government official cited by Kommersant, the contract had been suspended after Damascus could no longer afford the planes.
In 2005, Moscow forgave 70 percent of Syria’s total debt of 13.4 billion dollars.
United Aircraft chief Federov nevertheless told the paper the Russian planemaker was counting on completing contracts, as production at its factories has slumped amid the global financial crisis.
“Negotiations are ongoing, I hope that in the end the contracts will be realized. We put a lot of hope in it stabilizing the situation in Nizhny Novgorod,” he was quoted as saying.
Defense analysts believe Israel has been targeting the Islamic Republic’s computer networks, to gather intelligence on the nuclear program and also to launch cyber attacks against it.
“This has become a very important area in Israeli strategy, and it has to be taken into account,” said Alon Ben David, an Israeli defense specialist. “It has become a more and more important element both for intelligence gathering but also for aggressive operations.”
Experts believe Israeli intelligence agencies have been hacking into Iranian computer systems in an effort to disrupt or contaminate networks with viruses and malicious software.
“We came to the conclusion, for our purposes, a key Iranian vulnerability is in its online vulnerability,” an unnamed recently retired member of Israel’s security cabinet told the Reuters news agency. “We have acted accordingly.”
The potential for hacking into foreign networks came to light over 10 years ago in Israel during a routine defense exercise. Israeli hackers managed to break into an Israeli oil and gas storage facility and officials were shocked to discover how vulnerable their computer systems had become.
Since then Israel has been upgrading defensive mechanisms against cyber attack but also developing offensive capabilities, and defense analysts believe Israel’s thriving hi-tech commercial sector provides plenty of home-grown expertise.
One advantage of this secret war is that the attacker is difficult to identify, making retaliation much more difficult.
“You don’t see fire and smoke,” Israeli weapons expert Yiftar Shapir from the Israeli Institute for Security Studies said in an interview with ABC News. “Only when your computer stops working do you realize you are under attack. You can easily conceal your attack from the target and it’s very difficult to trace.”
Systems can be interfered with online or in the supply chain, since so much of the equipment and know how for the Iranian nuclear effort comes from outside sources. International defense experts believe both Israel and the United States have been trying to sabotage equipment before it gets delivered to the Iranians.
There have been several successes, according to Ben David. “The Iranians have experienced a number of malfunctions and unexplained breakdowns, all of which point to foreign interference in the supply chain for the program.”
In a far more conventional military attack in September 2007 unidentified aircraft destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor in the Syrian desert. Israel has never publicly admitted it carried out the raid.
Ben David told ABC News there was also a critical cyber warfare element in ensuring the success of the mission. He declined to talk about who had carried it out.
“Syria has one of the region’s densest and best-armed air defense systems, and yet not one attacking plane was detected and not one defensive missile was ever fired,” he said.
Whatever success Israel’s cyber war against Iran has achieved, most experts admit that at best it will only damage and delay Iran’s progress towards nuclear capability. To destroy the program completely will require far more traditional weapons of war and attacks that will be far easier to trace.
BY JOSEPH FARAH
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of Rick Warren’s bad judgments.
This time Warren will be schmoozing with the Islamic Society of North America, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood – just as are al-Qaida, Hamas and most other Muslim terrorist organizations.
ISNA puts on a façade of moderation, yet, according to terrorism expert Steven Emerson, it “convenes annual conferences where Islamist militants have been given a platform to incite violence and promote hatred.”
After Hamas leader Mousa Marzook was arrested in 1997, ISNA raised money for his defense. He was eventually deported.
ISNA condemned the U.S. government’s seizure of the financial assets of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad after Sept. 11.
“I think ISNA has been an umbrella, also a promoter of groups that have been involved in terrorism,” explains Emerson. “I am not going to accuse the ISNA of being directly involved in terrorism. I will say ISNA has sponsored extremists, racists, people who call for jihadagainst the United States.”
I could go on with many more details about ISNA. Suffice it to say it is no friend of Christianity and no friend of America.
So what is Rick Warren doing speaking at the group’s national conference?
I don’t know what Warren’s agenda is. He would probably say he doesn’t have one. But I can tell you the effect of his appearance – it is designed to disinfect and rehabilitate a group that is dangerous and subversive to U.S. national security.
But it should surprise no one, at this point, that Rick Warren will be there. One of the first times I ever wrote about Rick Warren was in 2006 when he took an equally misguided trip to Syria to meet with dictator Bashar Assad and praise him for his pleasant treatment of Christians. Syria was then and remains today one of the world’s leading state sponsors of Islamic terrorism. Almost every terrorist group in the world maintains offices there. Nevertheless, Rick Warren said, while in Syria, that the country “does not allow extremism of any kind.”
Less than a week after Warren’s absurd proclamations in Syria, a Christian leader in Lebanon, former President Pierre Gemayel, was assassinated in the streets of Beirut. Everyone in Lebanon knows who killed him – the Syrian government.
As I wrote at the time, “it is imperative that Christians – and especially Christian leaders – have discernment about evil in our world. And true, unadulterated evil is what you have running Syria today. The government led by Bashar Assad, who met with Rick Warren last week, is anti-American, anti-freedom, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and pro-terrorist.
“Rick Warren should know this. Yet, he has placed himself in a position of apologizing and excusing the government in Damascus, one of the most evil on the face of the earth.
Rick Warren loves to apologize for things he didn’t do, for things other people did that weren’t wrong, even for things that occurred hundreds of years before he was born – such as apologizing to Muslims worldwide for atrocities committed against their ancestors during the Crusades.
In 2007, he also apologized for American “excesses in the war on terrorism.”
And he has apologized for the church because it hasn’t done enough about the spread of AIDS and problems like global warming.
Yet, I must observe that despite his predilection for apologies, he has a great deal of trouble owning up to his own personal mistakes.
Once again, just like his trip to Syria, serving as the keynote speaker to the Islamic Society of North America is a very, very bad personal mistake – one that demonstrates a complete lack of spiritual discernment.
by Gil Ronenif
(IsraelNN.com) According to a classified intelligence assessment handed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama and his senior advisors wish to “incrementally diminish U.S. strategic cooperation with Israel.”
A report in World Tribune quoted an Israeli source familiar with the intelligence assessment who said that “Obama wants to make friends with our worst enemies and [those who were] until now the worst enemies of the United States. Under this policy,” the source added, “we are more than irrelevant. We have become an obstacle.”
According to the report, which has not been corroborated by news sources other than World Tribune, Israeli sources said the U.S. Administration would reject Israel’s intelligence opinions on Iran and Syria while advancing the Obama plan to reconcile with the two states, although both were listed as state sponsors of terrorism by the U.S. State Department.
The Israeli intelligence document reportedly predicted that Obama would maintain his policy of appeasing Iran and Syria through 2010. It determined that Obama is convinced that appeasing Iran and Syria would make a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan possible.
Pressure on Israel
“Obama will want to show Iran, Syria and radical Muslims that the United States could pressure Israel on a strategic level,” the source said. “The pressure has already begun and will intensify throughout the next year or two.”
At the same time, the intelligence officials estimated that Obama would restrict U.S. arms exports to Israel in an effort to deny it systems that it could use in a raid on Iran or Syria. The intelligence sources said this policy was begun during the last year of the Bush administration and predicted that it would intensify under Obama.
Carter: US and Syria Close to Full Relations
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said on Tuesday that the U.S. and Syria are close to restoring full diplomatic ties. “Syrian President Bashar Assad is very eager to restore full ties with Washington,” Carter told Haaretz. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens this year,” he added, speaking on the phone from Quito, Ecuador, at the start of a four-nation South American trip.
Carter plans to meet Assad in Syria in early June.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that Obama would face “a serious crisis in the Middle East” if he does not fix the mistakes made by his predecessor George W. Bush, within a year’s time.
On a visit to Vienna after meeting Austrian leaders and intellectuals, Assad called on the U.S. to rapidly withdraw its troops from Iraq. This, he claimed, would resolve “50 per cent of the problem,” Austrian news agency APA reported.
However, by appeasing Iran and Syria the U.S. is risking alienating Egypt.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Egypt’s rivals in the Middle East Wednesday that he would not tolerate what he called their “tampering with security and stability” in his country, a reference to Iran and the Hizbullah terror militia that it supports.
Mubarak’s comments were his the most strongly worded ones since Egypt accused the Hizbullah of plotting attacks in the country. They were also meant to send a strong message to the group’s backers in Iran.
Arabs fear that the Obama administration’s expected efforts to engage Tehran might lead to a deal that would bring U.S. and Iran closer at the expense of Arab interests.
Saud stressed that resolution of disputes among Arabs depended on “a unified and a joint vision” in dealing with the “Iranian challenge in regard to the Arabian Gulf security and the nuclear issue.”
The Arabian Gulf is also known as the Persian Gulf.
Growing influence of Shiite Iran
The predominantly Sunni Arab Middle East has been wary of the growing influence of Shiite Iran, and Saud’s comments were a clear call for Arab unity.
His remarks came a day after he and his Arab counterparts expressed their concerns about Iran to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The ministers and Clinton met on the sidelines of an international conference in Egypt that raised $5.2 billion in pledges to rebuild the devastated Gaza Strip after Israel’s recent offensive.
Last week, Clinton announced the appointment of veteran diplomat Dennis Ross as her special adviser on matters related to the Gulf, including overtures to the Iranians.
Clinton assured the Arab ministers that Washington is carefully considering its moves and will consult fully with Gulf allies on Iran issues.
Arab League chief Amr Moussa said after the ministers’ meeting in Cairo that Arabs must be kept informed about Iran.
“I demand that no foreign (power) talks to Iran without Arabs being aware of it and having a role in the process,” Moussa said.
Wants Iran on the agenda
Bahrain had asked the ministers to put Iran on the agenda of the Arab League meeting, amid growing concerns in the tiny Gulf kingdom that Iran still holds longtime claims to the island. Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni elite, but its Shiite majority has close ties to Iran.
Also Tuesday in Cairo, Saud and his Egyptian counterpart met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in efforts to bridge the rift between the two U.S.-allied Arab powerhouses and the Iran-backed Syria.
The name: Muntadhar al-Zeidi – a new hero to many in the Muslim world.
President Bush – in a surprise, end-of-term visit to Iraq – held a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Zeidi, an Iraqi “reporter,” shouted, “This is your farewell kiss, you dog,” and threw a shoe at Bush. The reporter quickly threw a second. The shoes missed their target only because an agile President Bush managed to duck. And with his typical self-deprecating humor, he later joked, “It was a size 10.”
“(Al-Zeidi’s) a rather nervous type,” al-Zeidi’s brother later said, “and above all hates violence and the bombing.” Al-Zeidi’s employer, Iraqi-owned but Egypt-based Al-Baghdadia television, refused to apologize for its reporter’s behavior, calling him a “proud Arab and an open-minded man.”
The violence-hating al-Zeidi, according to reports, displays a picture of the “revolutionary” Che Guevara on his wall. Cuban émigré Humberto Fontova, author of “Exposing the Real Che Guevara,” credits Guevara with 14,000 executions. Witnesses say this icon for many radicals personally murdered hundreds – including children and pregnant women. But we digress.
Many Iraqi reporters in the room apologized to the president. One journalist observed, “It was a reporter (emphasis added) who yanked (al-Zeidi) to the ground before Iraqi or American guards could reach him.”
Meanwhile, stateside, many in the Bush-hating news media seemed almost giddy – no doubt considering the shoe throwing a vindication of their own hostility to the war.
Chris Cuomo of ABC’s “Good Morning America” said: “Remember when the statue of Saddam Hussein was brought down? When it happened, all the people there started throwing shoes at it. … Why? Disrespect. It is a high form of insult.”
A CBS “Early Show” reporter said: “Mr. Bush’s message of progress was eclipsed in Baghdad by a sign of his unpopularity. … The symbolism wouldn’t have been lost on Iraqis, for whom shoes can be used to show extreme contempt, as with the footwear beaten against the statue of Saddam Hussein toppled by Marines five years ago.”
The Los Angeles Times wrote: “In the few seconds it took Iraqi journalist (Muntadhar al-Zeidi) to wing a pair of shoes at President Bush, the Middle East got its own version of Joe the Plumber. Just as Joe Wurzelbacher’s gripes to Barack Obama … catapulted him to fame, (al-Zeidi’s) burst of rage toward Bush … has made him a household name across the Middle East.”
“Joe the Plumber”?
Would that be the working-class citizen who politely questioned then-candidate Barack Obama about his spread-the-wealth philosophy? Or was the reference to the lost video of Joe the Plumber hurling a couple of pipe wrenches at Obama’s head while calling the now-president-elect a “dog”?
Let us pose a few questions.
Suppose one or both shoes hit their mark. What if President Bush had been struck in the eye and been seriously injured? After all, in the chaos, press secretary Dana Perino was injured when a microphone struck her in the eye. Would some in the media have considered it as comical had the reporter targeted Barack Obama? It is, after all, quite reasonable that the incoming president will be the subject of a greater than usual number of threats.
This raises another question – how did the Secret Service allow the man to get off not one, but two attacks? “I realized one of the reporters behind me was shouting and, in a way, reloading, with a second shoe,” wrote Adam Ashton of California’s Modesto Bee, the only American reporter in the room. “Off it went, just as fast as the first. I couldn’t believe he had time to get a second one off (emphasis added).”
Suppose the Iraqi reporter had thrown his shoes at Saddam Hussein.
During the dictator’s 24-year reign, Saddam killed an estimated 300,000 Iraqi citizens. Some place the number at more than a million. This means that, on the low end, over the past six years, a still-in-power Saddam would have killed 75,000 people. Since the March 2003 coalition invasion of Iraq, the Iraq Body Count – which many consider reliable – puts the number of violent Iraqi civilian deaths at between 89,000 and 98,000, a number that includes “insurgents” and civilians killed by them. But Iraq now has a fledgling multi-sectarian democratic government, a better economy – and a free press.
“All over central Iraq,” wrote the BBC mere months after Saddam Hussein’s fall, “independent radio and television stations are suddenly emerging to fill the void left by the destruction and collapse of the old national broadcaster. … Iraqis are enthusiastically embracing the possibilities of a free media after years of heavy censorship. Alongside these do-it-yourself radio and TV stations, dozens of newspapers representing every kind of political viewpoint are suddenly available.”
What of the fate of the shoe thrower in today’s Iraq? Eyewitness and NBC news producer Ghazi Balkiz put it this way: “(Under Saddam) any insult to the president or the president’s guests used to be punished by death.” So while al-Zeidi remains in custody, he faces no feet-first visit to the wood chipper.
Who knows? Maybe he’ll even get his shoes back.
Fatah terrorist used to throw grenades in Christian homes
By Joseph Farah
WASHINGTON – When Taysir Saada served as a trained assassin for Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization in the late 1960s, he admits he hated Christians.
If he found a home belonging to followers of Jesus, he would sometimes throw a grenade inside and shoot it up with bursts of machine-gun fire.
He has no idea how many people were killed and wounded in such attacks.
Today a non-uniformed Saada, now known as Tass, patrols the dangerous Hamas-dominated streets of the Gaza Strip – no longer hunting down Christians or bearing arms; the Palestinian-American has traded in his automatic weapons and grenades for the Bible, humanitarian service and apologies to Arab Christians he once persecuted.
His transition from Islamic terrorist to Christian missionary is recounted in a new book, “Once An Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life.”
Saada has returned to his roots, having been born in Gaza shortly after the 1948 war.
His family had left a comfortable and prosperous life in Jaffa before the war, heeding calls from Arab leaders to clear the area for the “liberation” forces of the Arab armies who were coming to destroy the new state of Israel. Tired of the refugee life in Gaza, his family uprooted themselves again and made a new home for themselves in Saudi Arabia.
The Saada family did well for itself in their new country, but the youngest child, who never knew his former homeland, grew up with a burning desire to return and fight for the Arab pride that had been stripped away by three successive defeats in 1948, 1956 and 1967.
Without his family’s knowledge or consent, Saada traveled to Syria to sign up to fight for his childhood hero, Arafat.
Quickly welcomed into a training camp in Jordan, Saada became a sniper and participated in the pitch battle of Karameh, outside of Jericho – a battle that made headlines around the world and served as a recruiting tool for Arafat and Fatah when Israeli forces found themselves in a daylong standoff with thousands of Palestinian guerrillas.
Saada’s role, which still causes him anguish, was to pick off Israeli soldiers with his sniper rifle.
Thirty-four years later, just six months before Arafat died, Saada had an opportunity to evangelize his former boss, telling him about the God of love, peace and forgiveness he had come to know, comparing man’s life-giving Creator with the deadly destruction wrought in his former life.
“Do you know how God created man?” he recalls asking Arafat.
“Yes,” he said. “From the dust.”
“That’s right,” replied Saada, Arafat’s former pupil in terrorism and his one-time chauffeur. “But do you know how?”
“How?” asked the father of modern terrorism.
“He got down and scooped up the earth and shaped it into the form of a man, says the Bible,” Saada explained. “Then he bowed down and breathed life into his nostrils. When I think about that, I ask myself how we could take the lives of so many men.”
Saada said Arafat welcomed his old student back toward the end of his life and gave him plenty of time to talk in his bombed-out Ramallah headquarters fully knowing of his conversion to Christianity. Shortly after this visit, an Egyptian pastor and friend of Saada also had an opportunity to visit with Arafat who said the terrorist leader “prayed the sinner’s prayer” with him, converting to Christianity.
“Do you think he understood what was going on?” Saada asked.
“Yes, absolutely,” replied the pastor. “He was very clear. And we were alone in the room, just the two of us.”
Months later, on Nov. 11, 2004, Arafat succumbed in a Paris hospital.
“When I saw that he had actually died, my heart broke,” says Saada. “I didn’t think about all that had gone astray under his leadership. I didn’t think about all the graft and misrepresentation in which he had indulged. I only thought about the man himself, now facing eternity. This was my teenage hero, the courageous leader who had dared to call the Palestinian people toward their destiny. He was the man I would willingly have died to protect. Now he was nothing but another human being standing before an awesome God, giving answers to penetrating questions. I don’t know what he said in that final court. I could only hope that in the recent months he had come to terms with the Lord of all the earth.”
“Once An Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life” takes you from the squalid Gaza refugee camp in 1951 to the Fatah guerrilla camp training to the feverish battles and through Saada’s journey to America where he was pleasantly surprised to find opportunity, prosperity, a wife, a family and a spiritual rebirth – a rebirth that brought him right back to where it all started.