PFLP Leadership Moving From Syria to Gaza

Syrian terrorist leader Ahmed Jibril is likely to enter Gaza via Rafiah, granting what at least one member says will be "renewed momentum" to the PFLP terror organization.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 10:36

Jibril, 77, is the founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine/General Command (PFLP-GC), which has staged numerous attacks against Israeli and other targets, both military and civilian.

The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quotes Dr. Adal Al-Hakim, a member of the PFLP's diplomatic office, as saying that Jibril is expected to arrive in Gaza - though he did not specify a time frame. Al-Hakim says that leading PFLP figures will arrive first in Gaza to investigate and shore up the organization's infrastructure and prepare for the leader's entry. Jibril's move will alleviate world pressure on Syria to get rid of Palestinian terror bases.

In Al-Hakim's evaluation, Jibril's arrival in Gaza will grant "renewed momentum" to the organization's activity in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.

Jibril, like PLO Oslo-opponent Farouk Kaddoumi, has refused to enter the PA-controlled areas until now, so as not to have to receive Israeli permission. With the opening of the Rafiah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, Jibril will not have to face this issue.

Among the PFLP's attacks are the Nahariya/Avivim school bus attack (May 1970) along Israel's northern border in which nine children and three adults were murdered; the massacre of 18 people in a Kiryat Shmonah apartment building (April 1974), half of them children; the bombing of a Swiss Air plane (Feb. 1970), killing 47 people; and the hang glider attack from Lebanon (Nov. 1987) in which six Israeli soldiers were killed.

The most destructive attack attributed to the PFLP was apparently the infamous Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. The plane was downed over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988, killing 270 people. Much cumulative evidence linked the PFLP to the attack, including the finding of explosive devices similar to the one presumably used against the Pan Am plane in the possession of a PFLP cell captured in West Germany.

In fact, only seven weeks before the Pan Am explosion, a terrorist cell of 16 members and supporters of Jibril’s gang was arrested in Germany, amidst evidence that they were planning a series of mid-air attacks on five international aircraft. The Germans, however, released most of the arrestees after a short period.

In May 2001, Jibril claimed responsibility for sending a boat filled with weapons to Gaza; the Israeli Navy found and seized the ship in the Haifa port. Jibril said at the time that it wasn't the first of its kind, nor would it be the last. A year later, Jibril's son, the head of the PFLP-GC's military wing, was killed in a car bombing in Beirut. The Arabs blamed Israel, but it was known that the Jibrils had many enemies in Lebanon.

Although the PFLP-GC has lost importance over the years in proportion to the rise of Hamas, Jibril's gang has long been on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.