Today marks the tenth anniversary of the attack on Jericho prison and the kidnapping of the leader, Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat, and his comrades by the Zionist forces, with the full complicity of U.S. and British forces. Zionist occupation forces violently attacked the Palestinian Authority’s Jericho prison in order to kidnap Comrade Sa’adat and his comrades, destroying the walls of the prison, killing two Palestinians and besieging those inside.
Sa’adat and his comrades have been held inside the occupation prisons for ten years now, brought before military courts – some on charges of the assassination of racist extremist Zionist tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi – comrades Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Majdi Rimawi, Hamdi Qur’an and Basil al-Asmar – and Comrade Sa’adat on charges of incitement and holding a leadership position in a prohibited organization, the PFLP of which he is General Secretary.
Comrade Sa’adat refused to recognize the legitimacy of the military court or participate in the military trial, which sentenced him to 30 years imprisonment as a leader of the Palestinian people.
The attack on Jericho prison and the kidnapping of the comrades was made possible by the long-term complicity and collaboration of the Palestinian Authority, which imprisoned Sa’adat and his comrades – in Sa’adat’s case, without charge and against the orders of the PA’s own High Court – under US and British guard at the behest of the Zionist occupation, after using deception and treachery to capture the comrades.
Sa’adat was summoned to a meeting on January 15, 2002 by Tawfiq Tirawi, then PA security chief – once in the meeting, Tirawi and his forces abducted Sa’adat and held him inside the guard office of then-PA President Yasser Arafat. Sa’adat’s comrades were also detained by PA security forces. On March 29, 2002, Zionist forces surrounded Arafat’s offices in Ramallah, where Sa’adat and his comrades were held. The Zionist forces originally demanded the extradition of Sa’adat, his comrades, and the strugglers in the Church of the Nativity in return for their withdrawal from the office.
Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Mohammed Dahlan, Saeb Erekat, Yasser Abed Rabbo, Mohammed Rashid, then-Prince Abdullah, Omri Sharon and Tony Blair participated in the negotiations, which produced the “Jericho agreement” to hold Sa’adat, his comrades and Fuad al-Shobaki in Jericho prison on a permanent basis under US and British guard in exchange for the withdrawal of the occupation forces around Arafat’s headquarters. U.S. Embassy cars transferred Sa’adat and his comrades to Jericho prison, where he remained imprisoned for four years, despite a Palestinian High Court decision of June 2002 ordering his release.
The PFLP issued the following statement on March 16, 2006:
On the morning of Tuesday, 14 March 2006 Zionist occupation forces accompanied by large numbers of tanks, armored vehicles, and helicopters advanced on and surrounded the Jericho Muqata`ah and prison in which the comrade and leader Ahmad Saadat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, his comrades, and our brother Fu’ad ash-Shawbaki were imprisoned. Those forces began to bombard the Muqata`ah with artillery and rockets, destroying the buildings until they began to batter the prison itself. As the invading forces completely destroyed the buildings of the prison and blasted the walls of the cell in which the militants were confined, the leader Ahmad Saadat and his comrades courageously faced their destiny without any means to defend themselves whatsoever other than the weapons of a steel will and an unshakable faith in the people and the homeland. They were arrested and abducted in full view of the world and to the astonishment of Palestinian and Arab public opinion at this crime carried out by the occupation in broad daylight in total disregard of all international values, customs, and laws, tearing to shreds the “Agreement of Shame” that the Palestine Authority had signed and that the administrations of America and Britain had overseen under which Ahmad Saadat and his comrades were arrested and placed under American and British guard.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine regards this crime as but one more chapter in the story of continuous Zionist aggression against our Palestinian people, and a demonstration of systematic terrorism unmatched by any other terror The occupation forces bear the direct responsibility for this brutal attack on the life of Ahmad Saadat, his comrades, and brother Fu’ad ash-Shawbaki.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine directly accuses the American and British administrations of complicity and pre-planned and plotted coordination with the Zionist occupation forces in the commission of this ugly crime. The PFLP regards this cowardly operation as proof once again that relying on American promises and guarantees is nothing but an illusion and mirage from which our people reap only perfidy, injury, death, destruction, and loss of rights.
At the same time that the Popular Front holds the Zionist occupation forces and their Anglo-American accomplices directly responsible for this cowardly act, the PFLP regards the Palestine Authority as responsible in the first place for the arrest of the General Secretary by an act of trickery perpetrated by its intelligence and security agencies in what amounts to a political and moral crime by all criteria and in all meanings of the word.
The Palestine Authority also bears the responsibility for having submitted to Israeli and American dictates in locking up the militants in Jericho prison according to a political-security agreement under American-British guard, thereby setting a political and security precedent that puts to shame claims by the Authority and its agencies that they are working to preserve national sovereignty.
The Palestine Authority is responsible in the third place for not responding to the order issued by the Palestine Supreme Court for the immediate release of the leader Ahmad Saadat.Â Neither did it respond to all the appeals and demands of the Popular Front, the patriotic and Islamic forces, and Palestinian and Arab patriotic and popular institutions to set him free. It did not listen to Palestinian demands in the three sessions of Palestinian national dialogue held in Cairo, but treated the case of the militant Ahmad Saadat and his comrades with disdain and total submission to the status quo, never taking on the task of finding a way to release him throughout all the years it had him locked up. It remained a prisoner of the logic of the claims that this was `out of fear for his life’ even though the Popular Front was ready to protect its leader whenever he was released and returned to the place from which he was arrested.
The Palestine Authority bears responsibility in the fourth place for concealing and failing to reveal the features of the crime being prepared as soon as it received word of the Anglo-American decision to withdraw their guards, when it could have exposed the intended plot by the occupation forces with American-British complicity to Palestinian, Arab, and world opinion and taken the necessary steps to confront the situation, on the basis of a discussion of the matter within a broad Palestinian framework.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, amazed at the behavior of the Palestine Authority and its complicity in the imprisonment of the General Secretary from when he was first arrested until the day of his abduction, calls on the Palestinian Legislative Council to convene an emergency session to discuss the destruction of the Jericho Muqata`ah, the abduction of the militants from there, and to question the Palestinian government as represented by its specific ministers and specialized agencies as to the circumstances and ramifications of all that took place in order to bring out the truth before our Palestinian people.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine highly esteems the positive reaction and solidarity with the leader Ahmad Saadat, his comrades, and all the militants, as expressed in the mass popular outburst of support in cities throughout the homeland and in lands where Palestinians are dispersed. While it salutes the positive position taken by the Secretary General of the Arab League regarding the event, it wishes to point out that the silence of official Arab regimes continues to reflect scandalous impotence and submission to American hegemony and demands. The PFLP also points out that the silence of the international community as it watched the Zionist occupation commit its crimes is an example of the application of a double standard in dealing with the causes and rights of the Palestinian and Arab people.
The Zionist enemy targeted the General Secretary and his comrades in order to break the will of the Popular Front and its ability to continue the resistance and struggle. The enemy had the same aim and goal when it assassinated the previous General Secretary, the martyr and symbol Abu Ali Mustafa, and when it imprisoned other leading comrades and hundreds of cadres. But the determination of the Popular Front has not weakened and will never weaken. It will continue the struggle and resistance with a will that does not bend, pledging to our Palestinian people that the banner of struggle and liberation will continue to wave until all the national rights of our great people are taken back.
Greetings of glory and steadfastness to the leader Ahmad Saadat, his comrades and all the prisoners and detainees!
The Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
16 March 2006