Jibril Rajub

Jibril Rajub

Yasir Arafat's National Security Advisor, with the rank of Brigadier-General; former
head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Force in the West Bank; member of the Fatah-Revolutionary Council. Regarded as a political moderate, with longstanding close ties to American (CIA) and Israeli security officials. Married with three children. A younger brother, Sheikh Naif Rajoub, is an imam and Hamas organizer in Hebron. A cousin, Musa Rajoub, was executed as a collaborator by the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, 23 Apr 2002.

More feared than popular on the Palestinian street, where he has used the PSF to quash dissent and harass political opponents including the use of torture critical of the Arafat and the PA. His organization has become the largest and most effective secret police apparatus in the West Bank, but has little influence in Gaza, where the PSF is controlled by Mohammed Dahlan. Rajoub has a longstanding rivalry with Dahlan for control of PA security forces, and was appointed Arafat's National Security Advisor in Sept 2003 largely as a way for Arafat to counterbalance the Abbas-Dahlan partnership.

Rajoub is viewed as a pragmatist concerning relations with Israel, advocating a two-state solution and peaceful coexistence. Has been deeply distrusted by Hamas, which accuses him of handing over to Israel some of their militants held in his Bitouniya HQ during Operation Defensive Shield. Clamped down hard on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in 1996-7. During the Oslo years, he publicly criticized the rising influence of religious fundamentalism in Palestinian society and schools.

Born 1953 into a prominent farming family in Dura, nr Hebron, which remains the geographical base of his support. Jailed for life at fifteen for throwing a grenade at an IDF convoy; spent 17 years in Israeli prison (1968-85), where he learned fluent Hebrew and passable English, and translated into Arabic former PM Menachem Begin's "The Revolt". Released as part of a prisoner exchange in 1985, but expelled from West Bank to Lebanon in 1988, during the first intifada. Relocated to Tunis, where he served as Fatah deputy leader Khalil al-Wazir's advisor on the intifada. After al-Wazir's assassination, became a close lieutenant of Arafat and spent seven years in exile with him.

Returned to the West Bank in 1994, following the signing of the Oslo Accords. Appointed West Bank Preventative Security Chief for the Palestinian Authority on May 18, 1994, based in newly-autonomous Jericho. PSF was funded and trained by the CIA, and worked in close security cooperation with Shin Bet. Rajoub kept his preventive force out of anti-Israeli activity, used it generally as a tool for building up the PA and defending its institutions from the growing influence of the Islamists.

He soon shifted away from the older generation of leadership, developing his own power base and becoming more closely allied with Fatah leaders in the territories. In the mid-90's he cultivated close ties with the West Bank Tanzim chief Marwan Barghouti, Rajoub was the subject of intense rumours that he was planning to take control of the West Bank in the event of Arafat's health failing. (Some reports suggest that he was actually arrested and detained for five days by Arafat's Presidential Guard on suspicion of planning a coup with the support of Shin Bet and the approval of the CIA). He was suspended the following month from the Fatah Central Committee for unclear reasons. He was also criticized in a 1997 PLC report on corruption, for profiting from the PA's oil-importation monopoly in the West Bank.

When the Al Aqsa intifada began, Rajoub kept the PSF out of attacks on Israeli targets. It was therefore a cause of some surprise when he was wounded in an IDF tank and helicopter attack on his home on 20 May 2001. The Israeli government offered conflicting explanations for the attack, which was widely regarded as a shift in Israeli policy.

His relationship with Arafat deteriorated Feb 2002 when, in an argument ostensibly over Rajoub's failure to secure Hebron central jail, Arafat reportedly accused him of being an Israeli spy and CIA agent, who was seeking to replace him. Also criticised by Arafat when, following a 3 April 2002 attack by the IDF on his HQ in Beitunya, Rajoub himself escaped but surrendered up to 50 Islamists inside to Israel in a CIA-brokered deal. Lost face for saving himself by "betraying" others, and widely condemned for it.

In May 2002, U.S. officials urged Arafat to unify the various Palestinan Authority security agencies into a single organisation, under the control of Rajoub. Arafat responded by firing Rajoub (2 July 2002), who did not go quietly. He refused to go for two days, and protests were organized in his support in Hebron, but he eventually accepted the decision.

He was restored to power in August 2003, when Arafat named him National Security Advisor with the rank of Brig-Gen, and head of the new National Palestinian Security Council on which all the Palestinian security and intelligence chiefs were given seats - all as a counterweight to attempts by Abu Mazen to consolidate control of the security apparatus in the hands of then PA-Security Minister Mohammed Dahlan.

Rajoub was quickly effective in restoring some order to the armed factions in the PA areas. He reactivated his armed supporters in the PSF and won back most of the West Bank Fatah and Tanzim members who deserted Arafat during the period of the Abu Mazen government. He has also had some success in healing his long-standing rift with Hamas, and now apparently favors bringing them into the political process, instead of allowing them to operate outside of PA authority, where they can be restrained only by the use of force

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