Barghouti's Top Aide Incriminated Him in Tanzim Terror Strikes

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Ahmed Barghouti, the senior Tanzim official arrested by Israel two weeks ago, has incriminated his kinsman, Marwan Barghouti, during his interrogation, saying the latter knew about and approved all Tanzim terrorist attacks in advance. Marwan Barghouti is considered the leader of the Tanzim in the West Bank and Ahmed was one of his top aides.

Senior officials involved in Ahmed's interrogation said the mechanism by which Marwan was informed of planned terror attacks was not yet clear, "but Ahmed's interrogation certainly ties the leader of the West Bank Tanzim to a long list of bombing attacks in Israel."

It indicates that Marwan was informed of all the details of an attack beforehand and had to approve it before it went ahead. Ahmed has also confessed to being personally involved in several bombing attacks against Israeli targets, officials said.

Ahmed's testimony has been confirmed by members of other terrorist cells recently captured by Israel, who also fingered the elder Barghouti as having approved terror attacks in advance. In particular, confirmation has come from a five-man cell whose arrest was revealed only yesterday. The members of this cell all said that Marwan Barghouti approved their attacks in advance, and was informed by Ahmed of the results.

The senior Hamas activist behind the Sbarro restaurant bombing in Jerusalem, Bilal Barghouti, told interrogators that Marwan hid him for a few days while Israel was hunting for him and gave him a weapon when he left. Other activists who committed shooting attacks in the Ramallah area said they received logistical help from Marwan and Ahmed.

The five-man cell - Mahmoud Abdullah, Fares Ghanem, Hitam Mutawfak, Mohammed Masalah and Hussam Shahada - confessed to a long list of attacks, and said that before each one, they obtained weapons and stolen cars from Ahmed Barghouti.

Among the attacks to which the five confessed were two shooting attacks along Highway 443 (the Modi'in-Jerusalem road), one last January that killed one Israeli and one in August that killed three people.

They also confessed to two shooting attacks on Jerusalem's Ramot-French Hill road, which killed one person and injured two; the murder of Ronen Landau near Givon Hahadasha last July; the murder of Yoela Chen in Givat Ze'ev two months ago; and an attack on an Egged bus in Jerusalem last August that wounded two people. In addition, they said, they provided transport for the perpetrator of a shooting attack on Jerusalem's Jaffa Road last January, which killed two people.

Major General Shahar Ayalon, the commander of the Samaria and Judea District Police, said police have obtained much important information from the five, including the escape routes they used.

He also noted that one member of the group, Ghanem, was an Israeli Arab from East Jerusalem. Ghanem's role was to drive along the target roads just before an attack was planned in his private car, which bore Israeli license plates, to ensure that there were no security forces in the area. He also served as the "spotter," identifying Israeli cars that would make good targets.