US embassy cable - 04DAMASCUS6857

HAMAS MEMBER TARGETED IN CAR BOMBING

Identifier: 04DAMASCUS6857
Wikileaks: View 04DAMASCUS6857 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Damascus
Created: 2004-12-14 15:30:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: KPAL PTER PGOV PREL IS SY
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 141530Z DEC 04
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8906
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 
C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 006857 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2014 
TAGS: KPAL, PTER, PGOV, PREL, IS, SY 
SUBJECT: HAMAS MEMBER TARGETED IN CAR BOMBING 
 
REF: DAMASCUS 5689 
 
Classified By: DCM Stephen Seche, for reasons 1.4 b/d 
 
1.  (C) Summary: On December 13, a car bomb exploded in the 
Old Mezzeh section of Damascus, wounding some passers-by but 
apparently killing no one.  Media contacts confirmed that the 
target of the bombing was Mesbah Abu Hweileh, a Palestinian 
HAMAS official residing in Damascus.  Interior Minister Ghazi 
Kanaan appeared on Syrian television the evening of December 
13, claiming that the Mossad was behind the bombing.  End 
Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  At approximately 1300 on December 13, a car bomb 
went off in the commercial district of Old Mezzeh, 
approximately 1.5 miles from the Embassy.  A number of 
passers-by were reportedly injured by flying glass, and 
Syrians present at the scene mentioned to both RSO and A/ARMA 
that a woman had been killed in the blast; however, no deaths 
have been confirmed by authorities or by the press. 
According to press contacts, the car belonged to HAMAS member 
Mesbah Abu Hweileh, who was in Old Mezzeh with his daughter 
and wife, on their way to a dentist appointment.  The bomb 
apparently detonated shortly after they had exited the 
vehicle. 
 
3.  (C) AP reporter Albert Aji told Poloff that he spoke to 
HAMAS' deputy political bureau chief Moussa Abu Marzouk, who 
told Aji that he believed the Mossad organized the bombing. 
Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan claimed as much in a statement 
that aired on Syrian television the evening of December 13 
and was picked up by all of the Arabic satellite stations. 
Comment: Kanaan's appearance on television immediately after 
the bombings to state the Syrian point of view is a departure 
from the normal veil of silence that ensues after major 
incidents of this sort, and may be a further indication of 
increasing SARG openness to a more liberal media environment. 
 End comment. 
 
4.  (C) Note: This is the second time a HAMAS official 
residing on Syrian soil has been targeted this year; on 
September 26, HAMAS leader Ezzedine Sheikh Khalil was killed 
in a car bombing (reftel). 
 
5.  (C) Comment:  While Israel has neither denied nor claimed 
responsibility for either incident, the target and timing of 
each could be indicative of a "tit-for-tat" approach on the 
part of Israel, which may be conducting operations in Syria 
in response to Palestinian attacks in the Territories.  The 
September 26 Khalil assassination, for example, came weeks 
after twin suicide bombings in southern Israel, while the 
December 13 Mezzeh car bomb incident came several days after 
the joint HAMAS/Fatah-orchestrated attack on an Israeli army 
outpost near Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border.  End Comment. 
 
 
SCOBEY 

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