Thursday, September 23, 2004

Pals to US: "We Know who Killed Americans and We Won't Arrest Them"

Gen. Musa Arafat, the overall commander of the Palestinian Authority's National Security Forces in the Gaza Strip, said Wednesday that the PA security forces know the identities of the perpetrators of last October's attack on a US diplomatic convoy in which three Americans were killed.

However, Arafat told Reuters that the PA security forces cannot act against the suspects while fighting with Israel continues.

The US called the comments 'outrageous' and urged the PA to immediately arrest the killers if it indeed knows their identities.

'We find Musa Arafat's statement, if he is correctly quoted by Reuters, to be totally unacceptable and outrageous,' a State Department spokesman said Wednesday.

'The US has consistently demanded that the PA take action to locate, apprehend, and bring to justice the killers of our three colleagues, since the deadly October 15, 2003, attack on embassy personnel in Gaza.

'The PA performance on this issue has been unacceptable to us. We have not seen the PA demonstrate the will, much less the capacity, to investigate this case seriously. If it is true that the PA knows the identities of the murderers, we expect immediate action to be taken to arrest, prosecute and convict them.'

It was the first time a senior PA official admitted to knowing who was behind the attack.
Arafat described the perpetrators as 'some Palestinian factions' and said that the US also knew who was behind the attack.