Islamic Jihad warns US
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Tuesday threatened to retaliate against the United States if it tried to capture its Damascus-based leader, Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah.
On Monday, Washington announced that they would offer a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Shallah. The same amount was also offered for a member of Lebanese Hizbullah, Mohammed Ali Hamadei. The alleged Lebanese Hizbullah member took part in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 that resulted in the killing of U.S. sailor Robert Stethem.
Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad's armed wing, said, "Violent operations will target all American interests if they attempt to harm the secretary-general, Dr. Ramadan Shallah." According to the statement, the group will target American interests - but not Americans.
Israel and the United States regard Islamic Jihad as a terrorist group. Responsibility for a string of deadly suicide bombings in Israel, including one last month in the Red Sea resort of Eilat that killed three people, has been claimed by Islamic Jihad.
The State Department on Monday announced that Shallah was wanted for conspiracy to conduct the affairs of Palestinian Islamic Jihad through "bombings, murder, extortions and money laundering. " Since 1995, Shallah has been the secretary-general and leader of the group headquartered in Damascus.
According to the Washington Post, Senior Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh claims that the United States $5-million reward is an attempt to bolster an Israeli campaign against the group following the Eilat bombing. Batsh told reporters in Gaza, "It (Shallah's capture) would unleash a new wave of violence and actions of legitimate resistance, and those who issued the decision will be responsible."