PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat
PFLP leader Ahmed SaadatIsrael News Photo: (file)

Ahmed Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, was

As head of the PFLP, Saadat is responsible for the organization's terrorist acts.

sentenced on Thursday by an IDF military court to 30 years in prison for a series of security offenses. Saadat was ringleader of the PFLP at the time of the assassination of Tourism Minister and nationalist leader Rechavam Ze'evi in 2001.

Saadat was convicted of holding a leadership position in a terrorist organization, incitement to murder and related crimes. Military legal sources explained that as head of the PFLP, Saadat is responsible for the organization's terrorist acts. However, Saadat was not charged with the Ze'evi assassination because, as the Justice Ministry explained, a pre-trial inquiry "did not produce enough proof" to try him for that specific crime. The PFLP leader refused to cooperate with the court.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas denounced the decision as "unfair and without any legal basis." Speaking in Ramallah, Abu Mazen said, "We will continue to demand freedom for the release of Saadat and all our heroes in Israeli jails." Saadat is also on the list of terrorists whom Hamas demands in its negotiations for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Saadat was taken into Israeli custody in March of 2006, when IDF troops stormed a Palestinian Authority jail in Jericho that was abandoned by international monitors moments earlier. In accordance with an agreement reached in 2002 between Israel and the PA, by way of Britain and the U.S., Saadat and four others accused of plotting the assassination of Ze'evi were held in the Jericho jail. However, by 2006, the U.S. and British observers at the jail were fed up with the lax security at the facility, prompting them to leave. Saadat was among a small group of 200 prisoners that decided to fight the IDF troops. The siege was short and ended when Israeli bulldozers began bringing the jail's walls down around the terrorists. The resisting prisoners surrendered to the IDF.

The PFLP is a terrorist organization that promotes an ideology combining Marxism-Leninism and pan-Arabism, such as the Ba'ath party that rules in Syria and ruled in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Saadat took over control of the PFLP after the IDF's 2001 targeted killing of his predecessor in that role, Abu Ali Mustafa, in Ramallah.