US embassy cable - 94AMMAN12970

THE PUBLIC FACE OF HAMAS IN JORDAN

Identifier: 94AMMAN12970
Wikileaks: View 94AMMAN12970 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Amman
Created: 1994-10-24 11:28:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PTER PGOV KPAL KISL KWBGXF JO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 241128Z OCT 94
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7171
INFO AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 012970 
 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARN, S/CT 
 
E.O.  12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PTER, PGOV, KPAL, KISL, KWBGXF, JO 
SUBJECT:  THE PUBLIC FACE OF HAMAS IN JORDAN 
 
REF: A) AMMAN 12819,  B) JERUSALEM 3647,  C) AMMAN 
12624,  D) JERUSALEM 3626,  E) AMMAN 10029, AND 
PREVIOUS 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY HAMAS SPOKESMAN IN JORDAN IBRAHIM 
GHAWSHAH REFRAINED FROM PRAISING THE OCTOBER 19 TEL 
AVIV BOMBING BUT HAS PREDICTED THAT HAMAS WILL 
CONTINUE TO UNDERTAKE SUCH OPERATIONS.  DESPITE HIS 
WILLINGNESS TO OBLIGE THE MEDIA WITH THE KIND OF 
FLAMBOYANT RHETORIC THAT MAKES A GOOD STORY, 
GHAWSHAH HAS CONSISTENTLY MAINTAINED THAT HAMAS IN 
JORDAN IS NOT LINKED TO HAMAS IN THE OCCUPIED 
TERRITORIES EXCEPT IN THE MOST SUPERFICIAL WAYS. 
PLO "POLITICAL COUNSELOR" OMAR SHAKAA SEPARATELY 
REEMPHASIZED HIS BELIEF THAT WHILE THE MUSLIM 
BROTHERHOOD AND HAMAS IN JORDAN ARE ESSENTIALLY THE 
SAME ORGANIZATION, THEY DO NOT CALL THE SHOTS IN THE 
TERRITORIES.  OTHER REJECTIONIST GROUPS IN JORDAN 
HAVE REAFFIRMED THEIR SUPPORT OF JIHAD AS A METHOD 
OF RETAKING PALESTINE AND HAVE CALLED ON JORDANIANS 
AS WELL AS PALESTINIANS TO RESIST THE PEACE TREATY 
WITH ISRAEL. 
 
2.  (C)  IN THE ABSENCE OF FIRM EVIDENCE OF A LINK 
BETWEEN GHAWSHAH AND HAMAS' MILITARY WING, THE 
JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT SEEMS PREPARED TO TOLERATE 
RHETORIC THAT DOES NOT EXCEED THAT OF OTHER 
REJECTIONISTS HERE.  ARAFAT'S RECENT ALLEGATIONS 
THAT HAMAS IN JORDAN IS SUPPORTING AND IN SOME CASES 
DIRECTING EVENTS IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES ARE 
FLIMSY AND IGNORE THE FACT THAT KING HUSSEIN STANDS 
TO LOSE AS MUCH, IF NOT MORE, THAN ARAFAT IF THE 
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY IS OVERWHELMED BY ISLAMIC 
RADICALS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
HAMAS IN JORDAN RESPONDS TO RECENT ATTACKS... 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (U) HAMAS SPOKESMAN IN JORDAN IBRAHIM GHAWSHAH 
HAS NOT PRAISED THE OCTOBER 19 BOMBING IN TEL AVIV, 
BUT HE HAS DEFENDED RECENT HAMAS ATTACKS BY 
ASSERTING THAT RESISTANCE OPERATIONS WILL CONTINUE 
AGAINST THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION.  GHAWSHAH MADE THE 
FOLLOWING POINTS TO THE LATEST EDITION OF ENGLISH- 
LANGUAGE WEEKLY "THE STAR" (FULL TEXT IN FBIS AMMAN 
JN2310100694) AND REITERATED THEM IN STATEMENTS TO 
OTHER MEDIA, INCLUDING CNN: 
 
--   "THE OBJECTIVE OF THE WEST JERUSALEM SHOOTING 
     LAST WEEK WAS TO SHOW THAT PALESTINIAN 
     OPPOSITION TO THE PEACE PROCESS IS ALIVE AND 
     KICKING." 
 
--   "THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS OPERATION (THE WEST 
     JERUSALEM SHOOTING) WAS THAT IT TOOK PLACE IN 
     THE HEART OF THE SO-CALLED ISRAELI ENTITY IN 
     WEST JERUSALEM, NOT IN EAST JERUSALEM. 
     ISLAMISTS ARE NOT ONLY DEMANDING THE RETURN OF 
     EAST JERUSALEM BUT ALSO WEST JERUSALEM." 
 
--   "THIS OPERATION PROVED THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF 
     COMPETITION BETWEEN JORDAN AND THE PLO OVER THE 
     HOLY PLACES IN JERUSALEM.  THE CAUSE IS NOT WHO 
     CONTROLS THE HOLY PLACES, BUT HOW TO REDEEM THE 
     CITY OF JERUSALEM, THE CAPITAL OF PALESTINE." 
 
--   "THE KIDNAPPING OF ISRAELI CORPORAL WACHSMAN 
     WAS A POLITICAL ACT HAMAS WANTED TO BRING TO 
     THE FOREFRONT THE ISSUE OF 5000 PALESTINIAN 
     DETAINEES STILL HELD IN ISRAELI JAILS." 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
...AND TO ARAFAT'S EFFORTS TO RESTRICT THE GROUP 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
4.  (U) GHAWSHAH ALSO HARSHLY CRITICIZED ARAFAT IN 
THE "STAR" INTERVIEW FOR ATTEMPTING TO CRACK DOWN ON 
HAMAS IN GAZ: 
 
--   "MR. ARAFAT DOES NOT WANT THE RELEASE OF THE 
     PRISONERS BECAUSE 3,000 OF THOSE DETAINED ARE 
     HAMAS SUPPORTERS." 
 
--   "ARAFAT HAS CROSSED THE RED LINES BY 
     SANCTIONING SWEEPING DETENTIONS, COLLECTIONS OF 
     WEAPONS, THE PERSECUTION OF HAMAS ACTIVISTS AND 
     THE CLOSURE OF THE ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY." 
 
--   "ARAFAT MUST NOW FACE HIS PEOPLE, WHICH IS WHAT 
     PERES AND RABIN WANTED ALL ALONG: AN INTRA- 
     PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE." 
 
--   "THE PEOPLE HAVE DISCOVERED THAT ARAFAT IS 
     ACTING AS A COLLABORATOR FOR ISRAEL.  THE 
     PEOPLE'S ANGER INCREASED EVEN MORE WHEN THEY 
     DISCOVERED THERE WAS COLLUSION BETWEEN 
     PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (PA) INTELLIGENCE AND ITS 
     ISRAELI COUNTERPARTS DURING THE DIR NABALA (THE 
     KIDNAPPING OF CORPORAL NASHON WACHSMAN) 
     OPERATION. 
 
-------------------------------- 
GHAWSHAH'S POSITION AS SPOKESMAN 
-------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) DESPITE JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT RESTRICTIONS 
PLACED ON GHAWSHAH AND HIS COLLEAGUE MUHAMMAD AL- 
NAZZAL LAST APRIL, LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL MEDIA 
CONTINUE TO SEEK OUT GHAWSHAH AS AN ACCESSIBLE 
SPOKESMAN OF THE HAMAS MOVEMENT AND BECAUSE OF HIS 
DEMONSTRATED WILLINGNESS TO PROVIDE SENSATIONAL 
COMMENTARY AND REACTION TO EVENTS IN THE OCCUPIED 
TERRITORIES.  NEVERTHELESS, JOURNALISTIC SOURCES 
REPORT THAT GHAWSHAH CONSISTENTLY DENIES THAT HAMAS 
IN JORDAN HAS ANY CONTROL OVER OR DIRECT CONNECTION 
TO EVENTS IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES, THOUGH THESE 
DISCLAIMERS RARELY APPEAR IN PRINT. 
 
6. (C) ON THE DAY OF THE TEL AVIV BOMBING, GHAWSHAH 
WAS BESIEGED BY REPORTERS LOOKING FOR STATEMENTS. 
SOURCES STRESSED THAT GHAWSHAH FIRMLY REFUSED TO 
ISSUE A WRITTEN STATEMENT ON THIS OCCASION AND STUCK 
TO HIS USUAL PRACTICE OF COMMENTING VERBALLY.  THEY 
POINTED OUT THAT IN THE RARE INSTANCES HE DOES 
COMMIT A STATEMENT TO PAPER, HE PREFERS TO RELEASE 
THEM IN LEBANON OR SYRIA.  (COMMENT: EMBASSY HAS 
NOTED OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS THAT FORMAL HAMAS 
COMMUNIQUES RARELY ORIGINATE IN AMMAN.  HOWEVER, 
THIS DOES NOT EXPLAIN THE HAMAS STATEMENT FAXED TO 
THE "JORDAN TIMES" THAT WAS CITED IN REF D.  THE 
"TIMES" ARTICLE NOTED THAT THE STATEMENT HAS "NO 
DATELINE." 
 
--------------------------- 
VIEW FROM THE PLO IN JORDAN 
--------------------------- 
 
7.  (C) PLO "POLITICAL COUNSELOR" IN AMMAN OMAR 
SHAKAA ON OCTOBER 19 RESTATED TO POLOFF HIS BELIEF 
THAT HAMAS IN JORDAN EXISTS AS A WING OF THE 
JORDANIAN MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD.  HE ASSERTED THAT 
NEITHER HAMAS NOR THE BROTHERHOOD HERE EXERT ANY 
CONTROL OVER HAMAS IN THE TERRITORIES.  HAMAS ALSO 
DOES NOT RECEIVE TRAINING OR MATERIAL FROM JORDAN. 
JORDAN'S HAMAS MOVEMENT THUS PRIMARILY MAKES RADICAL 
STATEMENTS IN SUPPORT OF OPERATIONS PLANNED AND 
CARRIED OUT BY HAMAS IN THE TERRITORIES WITHOUT 
REFERENCE TO THE OFFICE HERE, SHAKAA DECLARED. 
 
8.  (C) AS HE HAS BEFORE, SHAKAA MADE IT CLEAR THAT 
HE DID NOT BELIEVE THAT KING HUSSEIN OR ANY ELEMENT 
OF THE JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT IS INVOLVED IN 
SUPPORTING HAMAS OPERATIONS IN THE TERRITORIES. 
SHAKAA BELIEVES THAT THE KING AND THE GOJ HAVE A 
TACIT AGREEMENT WITH THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD THAT 
ALLOWS HAMAS TO OPERATE HERE UNDER THE BROTHERHOOD'S 
UMBRELLA IN EXCHANGE FOR ASSURANCES THAT THE GROUP 
WILL NOT SUPPORT OR UNDERTAKE VIOLENCE IN JORDAN. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
9.  (C) ALTHOUGH GHAWSHAH'S WORDS TAKE ON ADDED 
SIGNIFICANCE BECAUSE HE ACTS AS HAMAS' "OFFICIAL 
SPOKESMAN," THE SENTIMENTS HE EXPRESSES ARE SIMILAR 
TO THOSE OF OTHER REJECTIONIST GROUPS IN JORDAN 
WHICH HAVE ATTACKED THE JORDANIAN-ISRAELI ACCORD AND 
LENT VERBAL SUPPORT TO ATTACKS IN THE OCCUPIED 
TERRITORIES BY HAMAS' MILITARY WING.  THE PRACTICAL 
EFFECT OF THE JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT'S HANDLING OF 
GHAWSHAH, IN THE ABSENCE OF COMPELLING EVIDENCE OF A 
MORE DIRECT CONNECTION TO HAMAS' MILITARY CELLS, IS 
TO TOLERATE GHAWSHAH'S STATEMENTS AS LONG AS THEY DO 
NOT EXCEED STANDARD REJECTIONIST RHETORIC. 
 
10. (C) ALLEGATIONS THAT THE KING AND JORDANIAN 
SECURITY SERVICES HAVE HAD A ROLE IN THESE ATTACKS 
ARE EVENLESS CREDIBLE AND WERE DEALT WITH IN REF C. 
THE SUGGESTION THAT THE KING WOULD PLAY A DANGEROUS 
GAME WITH HAMAS TO EMBARRASS ARAFAT AND DESTABILIZE 
THE PA IGNORES THE FACT THAT THE KING HAS JUST AS 
UC TO LOSE AS ARAFAT IF HAMAS BRINGS DOWN THE PA. 
BOMBINGS AND ARRESTS INSIDE JORDAN THIS YEAR (SEE 
REF E AND PREVIOUS REPORTING ON THE "ARAB AFGHANS") 
BROUGHT HOME THE POINT THAT JORDAN HAS ITS OWN 
RADICAL ISLAMIST UNDERGROUND, PART OF WHICH MANY 
THINK IS A CLANDESTINE EXTENSION OF HAMAS. 
 
EGAN 

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