Will Assad Unleash His Palestinian Terrorists Against U.S., Israel?
by Khaled Abu Toameh
"We are worried that Syria's Assad will use his Palestinian agents to get the Palestinians into big trouble with the U.S. and the European counties." — Senior Palestinian Authority official
While in Syria, Palestinian terror groups loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad threaten to attack U.S. and Western targets in retaliation for a possible US-led military strike against Syria, Palestinians in the West Bank worry that these attacks might harm their own relations with the US And the EU.
They are especially concerned that any terrorism coming from Palestinians in Syria might affect financial aid to all Palestinians, including the Palestinian Authority.
They are also concerned that the involvement of Palestinians in terrorism would cause them to lose the sympathy and political support they enjoy in many Western countries.
One of these Syrian Palestinian groups is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, headed by Ahmed Jibril.
Founded in 1968, the PFLP-GC is one of several Palestinian terror groups based in Syria. In 1974 it broke away from the PLO to join the Rejectionist Front, an alliance of radical groups opposed to any peace settlement with Israel.
The group, which is funded and operated by Syria and Iran, is responsible for a series of terror attacks against Israel and the U.S. over the past four decades.
Over the past two years, the PFLP-GC has been helping the Syrian army in its conflict with the rebels. Members of the group have been fighting alongside the Syrian army, and in some cases they have even targeted Palestinians for aiding Bashar Assad's enemies.
Palestinian sources said this week that if Syria is attacked for using chemical weapons against its people, Assad is likely to instruct the PFLP-GC, which has a few thousand militiamen, to prepare for launching terror attacks against U.S., EU and Israeli interests.
According to the sources, Iran, which funds and arms some of the Palestinian terrorists, has also asked them to be prepared for launching terror attacks against Western targets.
Informed sources told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that the PFLP-GC has reached an agreement with the Syrian regime, Iran and Hizbullah to retaliate for a US-led military strike, and that Israel would be the first target of such retaliation.
Hussam Arafat, one of the leaders of the PFLP-GC, said that his group would not remain idle "while Syria is being slaughtered."
"Any Western aggression on Syria," he added, "would serve the interests of Israel and we will stand with Syria and join it in war."
Pro-Assad Palestinian terrorists based in refugee camps in Lebanon are also said to be preparing to "defend Syria against Western aggression." Many of these terrorists are affiliated with Syria's allies in Lebanon: the Shiite terror group, Hizbullah.
Earlier, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization also warned that its members would retaliate when and if Syria is attacked. The organization, based in Damascus, has a few thousand terrorists in Syria and Lebanon.
The Syrian regime has in the past used Palestinian terror groups to launch attacks against Israeli and Western interests, in addition to some Arabs.
Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank expressed fear that the involvement of Palestinian terror groups in the Syria crisis would have disastrous consequences for the Palestinians.
The officials pointed out that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have already paid a heavy price for meddling in the internal affairs of Syria.
More than 1,500 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the conflict there. In addition, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes in several refugee camps in Syria.
"We will pay a heavy price if any of the Palestinian groups based in Syria start attacking Western targets to help Assad," said a senior Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah. "We are worried that Syria's Assad will use his Palestinian agents to get the Palestinians into big trouble with the U.S. and European countries.