Hamas has turned to its friends in Tehran to seek mediation with Baghdad in the case of a rocket fuel expert named Taha Mohamed al-Jabouri. The incident shows Hamas’s increasing desperation and its links to Iran, like reported by jpost.com.
The Philippine National Police detained an Iraqi citizen on January 21 in Pampanga, according to the website Rappler, which follows the Philippines and security issues. Taha Mohamed al-Jabouri was born in 1954 and studied at the University of Baghdad before working in military facilities under Saddam Hussein in which he was responsible for increasing the capabilities of Iraq’s missile systems
Al-Jabouri allegedly went to work for Hamas and conducted research and development for missile technology according to the Palestinian media website Amad.
He had overstayed his visa in the Philippines and was detained with other Arabic speaking men. Manila, which is fighting a war against Islamist groups in the south and has been targeted by Al-Qaeda in the past, investigated whether he might be in touch with other terrorist groups.
Under interrogation in the Philippines, al-Jabouri said he had consulted for Hamas and had lived in Damascus before moving to Istanbul in 2012. He claimed to be working as a consultant also for a Chinese business group and had arrived in the country in August, 2017. Apparently Iraq had alerted Manila to his presence. According to website Iraqi news, al-Jabouri was sent back to Turkey and then deported to Baghdad where Iraqi authorities arrested him. The Iraqi report claimed he is wanted by Israel.
Hamas was quoted by al-Akhbar media in Lebanon as saying it would mediate for his release. The report claimed he had become involved with Hamas eight years ago, but it implied he was not doing current work for the organization. In any case, Hamas sought Iran’s help: “To communicate with the Islamic Republic of Iran, because of the recent good relationship with Iraq, to mediate for his release.”
The report comes in the wake of a speech by the chief of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate (Aman), Herzi Halevi at a Ynet conference on March 25. Halevi said Hamas is reaching a low point and facing a civil and structural crisis. It is “running into the arms of Iran,” he said according to a report of his speech published at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Hamas seeking to aid its former engineer al-Jabouri does not necessarily indicate al-Jabouri plays a key role in Hamas’ rocket program. His expertise dates back to the 1990s when he was helping Saddam fuel its SCUDs. Scott Ritter, the UN weapons inspector in Iraq during the 1990s, met al-Jabouri and describes him in a 2006 book. Even in the 1990s, Ritter wrote that Jabouri’s expertise for long range missiles was lacking. The significance that Hamas is seeking Iran’s help for an issue in Iraq is more symbolic of Hamas’ relations with Tehran and Iran’s influence in Iraq – this is of greater concern to Israel.