.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Terrorist who was shielded by Arafat in compound is killed

A senior Fatah member who until recently was among scores of fugitives hiding out in Yasser Arafat's Mukata compound was among four armed men killed in the West Bank and Gaza on Sunday.

Muhammad Ghassan Sheikh was killed, along with two of his aides, by an elite police unit while in a car in Beituniya, west of Ramallah, on Sunday evening.

As the unit closed in to arrest Sheikh, he opened fire, lightly wounding a policeman.

Police officers shot back; Sheikh was killed along with Nasser Said Jabarra, 30, a member of Yasser Arafat's presidential guard, Force 17, and Salem Hilna, 33, a member of the PA security forces.

During the two years that he was holed up in the Mukata, Sheikh planned suicide bombings and maintained contact with terror cells in the West Bank. He has had contact with Fatah Tanzim activists in Ramallah and Samaria and members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Iraq since his first terror activities in 2001.

Sheikh and other Mukata fugitives are believed to have left the Ramallah compound only after Arafat's death.

Sheikh was also involved in a shooting on a road between Na'ame and Talmon on June 13 in which a man was killed and two others were wounded.

In 2002, Sheikh helped plan a suicide bombing in Jerusalem and recruited his cousin to lead the suicide bomber from Samaria to Jerusalem. The next year, he was to have supplied the weapons and bombs to be used in a suicide bombing at the Beit El military court. However, both attacks were thwarted.

In August of that year, he was involved in shooting at security forces in the Ramallah area.

In March, Sheikh was to have sheltered a suicide bomber and his transporter who were sent by the Tanzim in Nablus to Ramallah, where they were to stay before setting out for Jerusalem. Both were arrested by security forces before they reached Ramallah.