Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Appoints Released Terrorist as Presidential Adviser

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Continuing a troubling pattern of rewarding terrorists, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas bestowed one convicted terrorist a crowning honor. Issuing a “presidential decree,” Abbas granted a major appointment to one of the prisoners recently released by Israel in exchange for the freedom of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped and held by Hamas for five years.

The Jerusalem Post reports on the former prisoner who is now Abbas’ adviser for local governments:

The former prisoner, Mahmoud Awad Damra, was sentenced in 2006 to 15 years in prison for his role in terror attacks against Israel. Damra served as commander of the PA’s [Palestinian Authority] Force 17 security force under former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Two years ago, while he Damra was still in prison, Abbas decided to promote him to the rank of major-general.

Damra was found guilty of planning and logistic coordination of numerous terror attacks in which many people were killed. Among those killed in the terror attacks were US citizens Esh-Kodesh Gilmore and the couple Binyamin and Talia Kahane in 2000.

Arutz 7 provides more information on the former prisoner’s checkered history:

Mahmoud Damara, arrested in 2006 for involvement in the shooting and bombing to death Israelis, was part of Yasser Arafat’s feared Force 17 terrorist group and was one of Israel’s most wanted terrorists until he was arrested in an IDF raid in 2001. Israel freed him last October, along with more than 1,000 other terrorists and security prisoners to gain the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

He served only one-third of his 15-year sentence, including four years he was in jail before his conviction less than two years ago.

Force 17, besides protecting Arafat, was involved in the murder of at least eight Israelis, including soldiers and a woman civilian.. Damara ”supplied the members of the organization with armaments and defined the policies for terrorist attacks,” the IDF said after a raid on the terrorist squad in 2001.

This isn’t the first time Palestinian Authority officials up to and including the president have glorified and rewarded those who have committed heinous acts against Israelis. The most recent example: a special visit Abbas scheduled with 11 other former Palestinian prisoners released in the Shalit deal when he traveled to Turkey, among them at least two convicted of murdering Israelis.

Now, Abbas’ controversial staffing decision coming within a day of an announcement of new peace talks between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators raises questions about the seriousness of the Palestinian Authority president’s peaceful intentions.