Palestine papers: Mohammed Dahlan



Palestine papers: Mohammed Dahlan

Former Fatah security chief who had close links to the CIA and Israel’s Shin Bet security service

  • Ian Black
  • 25 January 2011 

    Former Fatah security chief Mohammed Dahlan
    Mohammed Dahlan was reportedly suspended from the Fatah central committee last year and put under investigation over alleged plans to oust the Palestinian president. Photograph: Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images

    Mohammed Dahlan is a Fatah leader from a refugee family who served time in Israeli prisons during the first intifada and became head of the Preventive Security Organisation in Gaza after Yasser Arafat’s return following the Oslo accords.
    Dahlan was in close contact with the CIA and Israel‘s Shin Bet security service and accumulated a personal fortune. He was accused of creaming off tax revenues into his bank account and is widely seen as corrupt.
    WikiLeaks documents reveal unflattering comments on an emotionally volatile and intimidating figure. A senior Israeli defence official who visited him after he fell ill in 2005 told US diplomats: “He was vicious, which means he had recovered.” Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, said: “If he sees personal benefit in helping President [Mahmoud] Abbas, he will do so, because when he wants to, he knows how to pull the strings in Gaza.”
    Dahlan was Fatah’s key security chief in the confrontation with Hamas after it won Palestinian elections in 2006. Appointed head of a new national security council by Abbas, he organised units trained with US assistance in Arab countries and lobbied for Fatah units to receive arms to fight the Islamist group.
    Dahlan reportedly played a key role in the June 2007 CIA-backed coup against the Hamas-led administration in Gaza, which backfired and led to the defeat of Fatah and a fatal rupture with the PLO. He fled to Egypt but denied receiving US money or support. He paid “not only for his military failure, but also for what he symbolised: arrogance and excessive self-confidence, being aggressive, and making too many enemies”, wrote one Israeli pundit.
    Dahlan relocated to the West Bank where he was still seen as an asset – though not a reliable one – by the Israelis. Late last year he was reported to have been suspended from the Fatah central committee and placed under investigation over suspicions he was planning to form his own militia and seeking to oust Abbas. Ian Black

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