|Do you ever wonder what happened to the assorted thugs who took hostages at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem last month -- You know, the ones who flashed the V for Victory sign while they were expelled from their homeland at gunpoint and stuffed on a plane for Cyprus?|
The 13 terrorists were divvied up among various EU countries, where they are now enjoying an expensive year-long vacation, as fully-paid-for guests of the European taxpayers, as follows:
Spain gets to host Ibrahim Musa Abayat (29), apparently the Fatah chief in Bethlehem, and responsible for a series of suicide bombings and the killing of an Israeli intelligence officer; Aziz Jubrane(31), pharmacy student, explosives expert and leader of a failed attack on a Jerusalem convention center; and Ahmed Hamamrah(31), a bank employee also responsible for the March 26 bombing at a Jerusalem shopping center. The Palestinian representative in Madrid said "These are fantastic young men. We must certainly help them build a new life for themselves".
In their new life in Spain, they lounge around at a government country estate in Lubia, 10 miles from the nearest town. Their location was supposed to be kept secret, but they were discovered by journalists at a local tennis court. Spanish police are not happy about the dozens of officers needed to provide constant security for these guys -- even when they, say, go grocery shopping -- an annual cost of 5 million Euros.
Italy is the temporary home for Ibrahim Mohammed Salem(32), a member of the Hamas underground; Khaled Hamid Najimeh(34); and Mohammed Said Salem(23) an Al-Aksa Brigades leader. The original plan was for these guys to spend their year on the prison island of Pianosa [remember Catch-22?] but are instead being treated like repentant mafiosi, and given a sort of "witness protection program". They have been given new identities, lodging in Italian intelligence safehouses with 24-hour protection, and monthly stipends, at a total estimated cost of 600 thousand Euros. The terrorists only complaint? They haven't yet been allowed to have a reunion with their families. But they do get to call home to Gaza every day.
Greece is playing host to Mohammed Muhannah(22) and Mamdouh Al Wardian(23), a known Hamas member. Greece has long been sympathetic toward the Palestinians, so it's no great surprise that these two were given a hero's welcome as freedom fighters, along with a well-attended sycophantic press conference. After being under intensive police surveillance they disappeared without a trace, under speculation that they obtained new papers and slipped outside the country. They resurfaced a few weeks later as front-row guests of honor at a concert given by pop superstar Glykeria.
Abuyat Jubran, described as the least dangerous of the Nativity Church terrorists, is now living quietly in Belgium . Nobody seems to be interested in him any more. The journalists have stopped following him. His whereabouts are kept confidential, but he is believed to be in Brussels, possibly under an assumed name, presumably staying in one of the "dreary neighborhoods where Africans and Arabs live. Where black trash bags pile up on the sidewalk and where there are a lot of video stores and laundromats". Jubran has a work permit. For the time being, the Belgian government is paying for his food, shelter and clothing.
The EU was proud to negotiate the surrender of the Nativity Church terrorists as a significant contribution to Mideast peace. But nobody in the "labyrinth of the Brussels Eurocracy" seems to have any idea what should happen with the terrorists after the 12 months is up. "I'm afraid we don't have a plan", says one EU official. "We negotiated the arrangement, the implementation is the responsibility of the member states. It's no longer our concern"Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at June 28, 2002 06:52 AM