Behind the Headlines Captured Terrorists Report That El Fatah Office Operates in Cairo
Menu JTA Search

Behind the Headlines Captured Terrorists Report That El Fatah Office Operates in Cairo

Download PDF for this date

Recently captured terrorists claimed under interrogation that they were briefed and dispatched on their mission by the El Fatah office in Cairo which Israelis believed was shut down when the peace process with Egypt began, El Fatah is the terrorist am of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The report that its Cairo office, located on Adlie St., near the synagogue, is still functioning has disturbed Israeli officials.

The terrorists who made the disclosure were apprehended in the Gaza Strip. According to security sources there has been a significant rise in terrorist activity in that territory and a corresponding decline on the West Bank. Terrorist acts inside Israel have increased but attacks on Israeli targets abroad have dropped in recent months.

Security sources have mode public additional information about terrorist activity. They reported that more than half of the terrorist cells uncovered while still in the process of formation belong to El Fatah. The same proportion is found among cells uncovered after committing terrorist acts. Activity by the Syrian-backed Al Saiqa terrorists and the Iraqi-backed Palestine Liberation Front has increased but there has been a lessening of activity by Cairo Habash’s Popular Front for the liberation of Palestine.

The average age of the terrorists is between 18-28. About 10 percent of those arrested and convicted resume hostile activity after release from prison. Security sources acknowledged that there has been an enormous improvement in the quality of manpower and performance of terrorists and in the organization of terrorist cells. The cells are small. Their members are usually trained individually.

Unlike the common practice in the past, members are not necessarily from the some village. Internal security is fight and each member has only minimal knowledge of the activities of the group as a whole which limits the amount of information they can supply under interrogation. The educational level of the terrorists continues to rise.

The Israeli sources expressed concern over the politicization of the population in the occupied territories. Because of their growing identification with Palestinian nationalist aims, security agencies have difficulty finding people willing to cooperate. This has created obstacles in obtaining intelligence. There has been a significant decline in the number of West Bankers in general who are willing to cooperate with Israeli authorities.

Recruiting officers for terrorist groups are known to be particularly active among Israeli Arabs who went on the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Security sources reported. The sources also provided statistical information on Israel’s war against the terrorists.


Since the 1967 Six-Day War, 85 percent of terrorist crimes were solved by the authorities but not all the perpetrators were captured and put behind bars. Some managed to escape into neighboring countries. During 1979 and the first quarter of 1980, there were 54 acts of terror in Jerusalem which has become a favored target of terrorists.

In the some period, 97 terrorist cells were uncovered while in the process of organization compared to 122 cells during the previous year. In 1979-1980, 1345 terrorist suspects were held for questioning on the West Bank and 738 on the Gaza Strip. The numbers in the previous year were 1664 and 566, respectively.

According to Israeli sources, the Palestinian National Guidance Council on the West Bank is dominated by representatives of the more extreme rejectionist groups but El Fatah is finding it difficult to maintain control of the situation. The sources said that 13 of the 22 members of the Council are rejectionists who oppose the Camp David accords and the autonomy scheme.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund