Following are the stages of the recruitment and activation of Nabil Abu Aucal by Bin Laden’s organization according to the indictment sheet served against him:
Stage 1: Recruitment during “Daawa” Studies in Pakistan (October 1997 – February 1998)
Abu Aucal was a member of a group of five activists of a “Hamas” “Daawa” apparatus that traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, for “Daawa” studies. A student from the West Bank in Pakistan recruited him to military training (February 1998) while he was studying at the “Daawa” center in Karachi.
Stage 2: Primary Military Training in Pakistan (February 1998)
Abu Aucal underwent a month long basic military training (small arms, hand-to-hand combat) in a military base of the “al-Ansar” movement – a fundamentalist Islamic Pakistani movement, connected to the Bin Laden organization (“al-Ansar” is also a byname for people from the city of al-Medina who joined the army of Muhamed in the conquest of the cities of the Arabian peninsula). The training took place in a mountainous area in Kashmir. It seems that in this case the movement was used as a “subcontractor” for Bin Laden’s organization. After the training, Abu Ucal was transferred into the hands of Shiekh “Abu Iyad” Azzam, a former Palestinian resident of the Jenin area, in the northern West Bank, in order to transfer him to Afghanistan.
Stage 3: Sabotage Training in Afghanistan with Osama Bin Laden’s Organization (March 1998)
At the end of his training in Pakistan, Abu Aucal was transferred to Afghanistan and met with an activist known as “Abu Hamza” who introduced himself as one of Bin Laden’s assistants. Abu Aucal underwent a month long sabotage training in a Jalalabad training camp near the Afghanistan – Pakistan border. The training including bomb making, different methods of bomb detonation, and weapons training.
Stage 4: Briefing, Accordance of Terror Missions and Dispatch to the Gaza Strip (April 1998)
Upon the completion of his training, Abu Aucal returned to the home of Sheikh “Abu Iyad” Azzam in Pakistan. There he received a briefing before his return to the Gaza Strip which included: Communications (telephone and internet, including the telephone number of a terrorist from the Azzam family living in the United States); Recruitment of a terrorist cell to carry out attacks; definition of the targets of the attacks: Israeli citizens within the 1967 “Green Line”, Israeli settlers, Israel Defense Forces soldiers,; Recruitment of Israeli Arabs, members of the “Islamic movement.”
Stage 5: Establishment of a Military Infrastructure and Planning of Attacks (1998-2000)
Following his return from Afghanistan, Abu Aucal began intensive activity to build a terror infrastructure in accordance with the instructions he received, in cooperation with the “Hamas”. These activities included:
Establishment of ties with Sheikh Yassin (Summer 1998). Abu Aucal reported to Yassin on the training he underwent in Pakistan and the establishment of ties with Bin Laden’s organization. Following this, he received money from Sheikh Yassin to finance terrorist activity.
Recruitment of additional “Hamas” members for military training in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Maintaining ties with the “al-Ansar” movement in Pakistan (through the Internet) and with a Palestinian terror activist (from the “Hamas”?) in England (in order to bring him to this region to carry out attacks).
Recruitment of Israeli-Arabs to assist in carrying out attacks in Israel and sending them to military training in Pakistan (already during his activity in the “Daawa” in 1990 Abu Aucal visited mosques in Israel). In practice there were talks about recruiting two Israeli Arab residents of Um el-Fachem (an Arab town in Israel that is run by the Israeli “Islamic Movement”), who were members of the “Islamic Movement.”
Planning of terror attacks (staring at the end of 1998) that included:
Kidnapping of IDF soldiers using anesthesia for the purpose of “bargaining” the release of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli prisons on terror attack charges.
Detonation of explosive charges in densely populated areas within Israel (markets, residential neighborhoods, military installations) using a cellular phone code. This as part of the “bargaining attacks” aimed at releasing Palestinians imprisoned in Israel on terror attack charges.
Detonation of explosive charges in military installations.
Firing missiles at Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.
Planting a bomb on the Netzarim (an Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip) access road.
Preparation of explosive devices activated by cellular phones, conducting experiments to detonate devices.
Establishment of a laboratory to manufacture explosives in order to prepare improvised bombs and grenades.
Stage 6: Additional Trip to Afghanistan, via Pakistan, to renew ties with Bin Laden’s people and advanced military training (May – June 2000)
Nabil Abu Aucal, together with a terrorist he recruited, planned to travel to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan, in order to renew his ties with Bin Laden’s organization and to take part in advanced military training (detonation of bombs using cellular phones). To finance their trip they received a pre-trip sum of $5000 from Sheikh Yassin and prepared a cover story (medical treatment in Jordan). On 1 July, 2000, before he managed to leave Abu Aucal was arrested after a gunfight in Rafah in the Gaza Strip between Israeli security forces and Palestinian Policemen who attempted to prevent the arrest. Following this arrest, his plans were thwarted.
The Link between the Case of Abu Aucal and Bin’s Laden’s Network of Terrorist Organizations
During Abu Aucal’s investigation it was revealed more than once that there are clear indications of operational ties between the terrorist cell he headed and terrorists around the world connected to Bin Laden and his organization. The “national variance” of factors involved in the assistance and activation of Abu Aucal were revealed.
Within this framework, we can mention Abu Aucal’s connections with the “al-Ansar” organization in Pakistan; an activist named Abu Hutzifa residing in Britain was supposed to assist in carrying out of attacks and the name of his contact man in the US known as Abu Raazi Azzam was given to Abu Aucal through Sheikh “Abu Iyad” Azzam. In the case of Abu Aucal (and in other cases that involved Palestinians training in Afghanistan for terror missions) instructors and trainees from Algeria, Morocco, Egypt – a kind of extremist Islamic federation, connected to Bin Laden and his organization “al – Qaeda” were mentioned.
Special interest can be found in the ties between Abu Aucal and the Azzam family. This is a Palestinian family from the Jenin area, that holds a distinguished position in the history of Muslim warfare in Afghanistan against the former Soviet Union, in the history of Bin Laden’s organization, and in the history of the establishment of the Islamic terror infrastructure in the U.S..
Dr. Abdallah Azzam, born in Silat al-Hartiya, near Jenin, and a doctor in Islamic law in the el-Azhar University in Egypt was one of the first Palestinians to join the fighters in Afghanistan in the early 1980s. He served as “spiritual teacher” of Osama Bin Laden (whom he received in Afghanistan) until he was killed in 1989 by a mysterious explosion with two of his sons. Due to his activity in Afghanistan, Dr. Andallah Azzam was revered by “Hamas” members and at the beginning of the first Intifada of 1987-1993 (the Palestinian Uprising) some of the fugitive terrorist cells from the “Hamas” in the Jenin – Nablus area were named “battalions of Abdallah Azzam.”
After the death of Abdallah Azzam, his cousin, Faaiz Azzam, continued to operate in the U.S. and also, apparently, in Afghanistan in the infrastructure service of the “Afghanistan volunteers”. It is possible that the man referred to as “Abu Iyad” Azzam, the mentor of Abu Aucal, is an alias for Faiz Azzam. Another option is that another family member of Abdallah Azzam is referred to as “Abu Iyad.” It is also possible that the contact man in the U.S. “Abu Raazi” Azzam is in fact the same Faiz Azzam.
In any case it is no coincidence that “Abu Iyad” Azzam gave Abu Aucal the name of the contact man of the Azzam family in the U.S. During 1988-1989 Dr. Abdallah Azzam and Faiz Azzam operated throughout the U.S. in preaching “Daawa”. A film made by the American journalist Steve Emerson about the extremist Islamic infrastructure in the U.S. (“Jihad (Islamic Holy War) in America” 1994) shows the U.S. Azzam family members Abdallah and Faiz preaching in mosques about Islamic holy war (“Jihad”) wearing traditional Afghani dress. Their sermons included blatant anti-American incitement, calls for assistance in the fighting in Afghanistan, and encouragement of the armed struggle against Israel.
The recruitment of Nabil Abu Ucal in Pakistan by Bin Laden’s organization was not the only case. In the past two years there have been other cases of Palestinian students from the territories who studied in Pakistan and were recruited and trained in Afghanistan by Bin Laden’s organization and then sent to the territories with the goal of activating them in the future to carry out terrorist attacks.
Recruitment and Training of Palestinians Studying in Pakistan
The Case of Sa’ad Hindawi (1988)
Sa’ad Sita’an Mahmud Hindawi from Halhul, was born in 1974, and studied in 1998 in the “Sind” University in Pakistan. He heard from a Palestinian friend about the possibility of taking part in military training in Afghanistan. Around June 1998 he and his friend left, escorted by an additional student to the Jalalabad region for training (the same area where Abu Aucal trained).
Through use of their contact man in Afghanistan (Abu Shalha) the two arrived at the “Durunta” training base in the Jalalabad region. Like Abu Aucal, Hindawi and his friends underwent two courses, basic and advanced:
The Basic Course (June 1998) that took place in the “Open Wing” of the “Durunta” base lasted two weeks. Some 12 other people from various places participated in the course. The course included theoretical and practical lessons on explosive and chemical materials, including assembly and detonation of bombs. Likewise, the course included a short exercise in the use of small arms.
The Advanced Course (around November-December 1998) that took place in the Moroccan wing in the “Durunta” camp lasted around two months. The course included theoretical and practical training in different weapons (small arms), on the assembly of electrical circuits, and for the detonation of explosive devices.
When he returned to the territories Hindawi planned with two Palestinian friends who trained with him to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. They intended to blow up a car bomb or to shoot at IDF vehicles. The cell was uncovered by the Israeli security service (GSS) before they were able to carry out the attacks.
The Case of Bassel Daka (1999)
Bassel Rashad Muhamad Daka from Tul Karem (Palestinian city in the northern West Bank), born in 1975, is the son of a senior police officer (Brigadier General) in the Palestinian Authority. He studied pharmacy at 1999 in the Karachi University in Pakistan.
While studying in Karachi, Daka joined a fundamentalist Islamic organization named “Salafyun.” This organization aspires to return the Islamic way of life to its fundamentals, as was practiced in the days of the Prophet Mohammed. Its believers, who can also be found among the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, do not hesitate to take violent steps against any expression of modernity and progress among the local population.
During his activities in “Salafyun,” Daka watched videos displaying the war in Bosnia and the problems with Islam there, emphasizing Muslim solidarity throughout the world. During his studies Daka heard from friends about the option to train in Afghanistan.
In July 1999 Daka joined a group of Arabs from different Arab countries, and like those before him arrived in the Jalalabad area to the “Darunta” training base. Daka and his friends also underwent two stages of training:
I. Basic Training – three weeks long, was given by a man of Algerian descent (Abu Muhjen). The training included theoretical and practical lessons in the use of small arms.
II. Advanced Training – two weeks long, was given by a man of Egyptian descent (Abu al-Habab). The training included theoretical and practical lessons in the assembly of bombs from explosives and chemical materials and detonation. (Daka wrote and drew in his notebook what he learned and brought the notebook to the territories in order to use it to carry out attacks when required).
Daka returned to the territories and was arrested before he operated. He was tried and convicted. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison, three active and three on probation.