How Yard trained Arafat's terrorists

by PAUL HENDERSON, Mail on Sunday

Elite undercover officers from Scotland Yard have secretly trained Palestinian terrorists, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The six-man squad from the Metropolitan Police were sent to the West Bank city of Ramallah to share their expertise with Yasser Arafat's security forces.

The Yard team were told the purpose of the European Unionfunded trip was to teach the Palestinian Authority to track down Palestinian terrorists and fight local organised crime.

But the British officers realised their skills were more likely to be used to hunt down Palestinian informants providing intelligence for Israeli agents, including the names and addresses of suicide bombers prepared to wreak carnage in Israel.

Last month the body of a suspected collaborator was hung from a rooftop overlooking Bethlehem's Manger Square and the corpse of another accused collaborator was strung up in the centre of Ramallah, half a mile from Arafat's headquarters. The vigilante killing brought the total for March to ten.

Uneasiness in London about the Yard's surveillance training increased this month when 11 Palestinians accused of being collaborators were executed in one day to prevent Israeli forces freeing the men as they swept through the West Bank.

They were killed by members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs terrorist brigade of Arafat's Fatah faction.

Last night a security source said: 'The police officers from SO11 were there to teach these guys how to mount 24-hour surveillance of suspects in cars, on foot, on public transport and in buildings.

The Met officers are among the best at what they do in the world so they knew their techniques would be effective. But they had no idea their skills would be used against informants who were giving the Israelis vital intelligence.'

The British detectives were sent to Ramallah in September 2000.

But they ended their planned three-week tour of duty after one week for their own safety when the Intifada escalated over Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount, sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Following the Yard departure, Palestinian Authority security operations particularly focused on fellow Palestinians.

The most sought after were those accused of giving or selling booby-trapped cars or phones to targeted terrorists who were then assassinated by Israelis by remote control.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'The Government offered this training as part of an EU package designed to help the

Palestinian Security Forces fulfil their responsibilities - one of which is the fight against terrorism.'

A Scotland Yard spokesman added: 'At the request of the Foreign Office and as a small part of a large-scale EU package of aid for a developing community, a team of Metropolitan officers visited the Palestinian Authority to train members of the Authority's police service in basic surveillance techniques.

'It was a three-week course specially designed by the Met to meet the Palestinian policing needs and improve their security capabilities.

'However the security situation in the region deteriorated substantially during the first week of the course and all the Met trainers were recalled to the UK.'

The European Union provides emergency financial aid of around £7million a month to the Palestinian Authority, but a large portion is said to finance the suicide bombing campaign that has claimed scores of lives.