TEL AVIV (Jun. 5)
One of the leaders of the seaborne terrorists captured in an aborted attack on Israeli beaches last week painted a picture of mass murder and mayhem that would have occurred had any part of their plan succeeded.
Ahmed Mohammed Yusuf, code named Abu Ashash and identified as deputy commander of the mission, told Israel Radio in an interview Tuesday that their orders were to “wreak havoc” on Tel Aviv’s beachfront hotels and surrounding residential areas, and to kill everyone in sight.
He also disclosed the close involvement of Libya’s military authorities in planning and training for the speedboat attack on May 30, the Shavuot holiday.
It was carried out by the Palestine Liberation Front, a constituent group of the Palestine Liberation Organization headed by Mohammed (Abul) Abbas.
According to the captured terrorist, their instructions when they boarded their Libyan mother ship in Benghazi on Sunday, May 27, was to bombard the hotels with 107mm Katyusha rockets and 23mm cannon, and spray them with machine-gun fire.
After landing on the beach, their orders were to shoot anybody they found in the streets, enter the hotels and “clear them out completely, shooting everybody there — men, women and children,” Abu Ashash told the radio interviewer.
He said that his personal target was the Tel Aviv Sheraton Hotel.
The interview was arranged by the Israel Defense Force. Government sources acknowledged it was part of a drive to pressure the United States to cut off all contact with the PLO.
SEEN OFF BY ABUL ABBAS
Abu Ashash, 28, said he and 20 fellow-terrorists trained for 18 months at a Libyan naval base under the command of Libyan marine commandos.
They were seen off on their mission by Abbas and by senior Libyan officers, he said. They were accompanied on the mother ship by the commander of the Libyan marine commando unit.
In the end, mechanical difficulties prevented all but two of the six fiberglass motorboats assigned to the attack from reaching Israeli shores.
The two hit beaches well north and south of Tel Aviv. One was intercepted by an Israeli missile boat and the raiders were captured without a shot being fired.
Israeli air and ground forces pinned down the other terrorists, who landed at Nitzanim beach between Ashkelon and Ashdod.
Four were killed and 12 survivors were captured.
Although the raid was aborted before the attackers could inflict casualties or damage, the IDF has been criticized for not responding sooner and for not clearing the beaches of holiday revelers as soon as terrorist activity was reported.
The IDF chief of staff, Gen. Dan Shomron, who appeared before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, described the IDF action as “successful, even though various ‘holes in the net’ came to light.
“These are being studied and will be corrected,” he said.