Report: Al-Qaeda operative held in Israel over 3 years
Samir al-Baraq released by Jordan in 2010, arrested at Allenby Bridge. Considered dangerous due to operations with international terror organization. Palestinian source says Israel agreed to release him to Pakistan, where his wife resides, but Pakistan refused
The Israeli government is refusing to release al-Baraq, a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian, in fear that such an act would be a "point of no return for the development of significant jihadi infrastructure in the region." An injunction under which al-Baraq is imprisoned is expected to expire in the following days, but the defense establishment will ask for a six-month extension.
- The smiling dead: Recruiting rebels for Syria
- Op-ed: Nothing will come of prisoners' release
- Op-ed: Peace with Jordan invaluable
Al-Baraq, who was born in Kuwait to a Palestinian family, has a PhD in exact sciences, and has been arrested previously by the US and Jordan. Last month, al-Baraq petitioned the High Court against the injunction, seeking to be released to the West Bank – and the court is expected to deliberate the matter over the next few days.
The government will claim that the arrest was warranted and that there is no other way to prevent the large-scale risk to the region and the public sphere which his release poses. The government will echo the defense establishment's stance that al-Baraq is a dangerous person who is expected to present a threat on Israeli interests whether he resides in other countries, in the West Bank, or in Gaza.
The lawyer representing al-Baraq responded: "My client does not deny that he studied in Pakistan and participated in humanitarian activities. Even the Americans released him after three months. The absurdity is that Israel asked to determine if there is a place where he can stand trial... and now (the State) doesn't know how to get rid of him."
According to the lawyer, in the past an agreement was accepted through the Pakistani embassy in Egypt, according to which al-Baraq would be released to Cairo and moved to Pakistan, but the decision was not honored by Israel: "We are sure that the High Court will end this injustice of a three-year arrest by injunction. Even the military tribunal clarified to the State that this could not continue. It's a ruling without a trial. The State must decide – either to release him to Qalqilya or to another place."
History of terror
Al-Baraq was born in 1974. His family left the country in the 1990s, after the breakout of the First Gulf War. The family moved to Jordan from Kuwait and eventually arrived in Qalqilya. Since 1995, al-Baraq completed a first and second degree in Pakistan, while simultaneously – as he admitted during interrogation – he left for periods of military training in Afghanistan.
His interrogation discovered that since the turn of the millennium he was working with al-Qaeda, attempting to convince Palestinians to join the international terror organization under which he was working, and initiate attacks on Israelis and Jews visiting Jordan. He also agreed to train three Palestinians in the preparation of materials necessary for launching attacks on Israel.
In 2003, he was arrested by the US and was jailed for three months in the Guantanamo Bay detainee camp in Cuba, and after he was released he was again jailed for five years in Jordan because of his membership in the international terror group.
In 2010, he was sent away from Jordan and arrested by Israeli security forces on his arrival to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Israel. He was investigated and interrogated about the planning of terror attacks, and even though it was possible to put him on trial based on the wide range of evidence against him, the military prosecutor did not pursue that path. Despite this, it was decided to keep him jailed. Al-Baraq has previously petitioned the Supreme Court against the State, but was denied.
'Very dangerous man'
The level of threat posed by al-Baraq can be assessed by the July ruling of the military tribunal, which decided to extend his arrest one final time: "The respondent is a senior al-Qaeda operative with personal and direct ties to current commanders of the organization. There can be no disagreement about the danger posed by him, and that his release would ignite military activities of the Salafi Jihad against the State of Israel."
The court noted the difficulty of maintaining the arrest in the manner, given that the injunction has kept him jailed for three years.
Al-Baraq shares quarters with Hamas operatives, but expressed the wish to return to Pakistan. A Palestinian source familiar with the case, however, told Ynet that Israel has agreed to release him to Pakistan, where his wife resides, via Jordan, but Pakistan has refused.
A Palestinian security official told Ynet: "Al-Baraq is well known to the Palestinian defense establishment. He was arrested by the Jordanian central intelligence and they are the ones who 'supposedly' released him, knowing he would pass through Allenby. He is a very dangerous man."
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop