ON APRIL 17, as reported in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, two American women and an American man were slain in Kosovo, and eleven people were injured when they came under armed attack by a Palestinian from Jordan. The killer was a member of the same body in which they served: the United Nations police force in the territory.
The male American, who died of his wounds, was Gary Weston, of Vienna, Illinois. The Palestinian, Sergeant Major Ahmed Mustafa Ibrahim Ali, was killed when members of the contingent in which the Americans were traveling returned fire.
In the days since the first reports of the crime were received, more details have emerged, which make what was already a scandal for the United Nations in Kosovo even more alarming. First and most disturbing is that the dead assailant, Ali, is being investigated for connections with Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization. Second is that the same Ali had visited the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home of the Wahhabi Islamic sect that produced al Qaeda, only a month before he was sent to Kosovo in March.
More thorough descriptions of the incident are horrendous. The group of Americans, along with some Turkish personnel, were leaving a prison in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica when the attack began. It was their first day on the job. According to the Associated Press, they were "trapped between a locked gate and Ali's assault rifle."
The Palestinian carried an M-16, from which he apparently discharged 400 rounds, leading NATO investigators to examine whether his four colleagues in a Jordanian detachment assigned to guard the prison had helped him by feeding his weapon as he fired. All four were detained after the bloody events, but three have now been released, while one of them, whose name has not been disclosed, remains under arrest as a possible accomplice, and his immunity from prosecution has been revoked.
The Americans shot back with pistols. An Austrian guard heard the noise and ran to the scene, but was wounded in the legs by the Palestinian.
The Associated Press account states chillingly, "When he had shot all those he could see, Ali paced around the vans [in which the Americans had been riding], searching for more victims."
The carnage continued until Ali's weapon jammed. The surviving Americans then stormed the Jordanians' guard shack, where they found his four comrades hiding. The Americans grabbed their weapons from them and killed the assailant, firing 16 bullets into his body.
Because Kosovo media operates under heavy U.N. censorship, the whole truth about this atrocity may not be known for some time. But terrorism expert Dan Pipes warned this week, "If the Hamas connection does materialize, it could mean that the organization has in fact begun in earnest its war with the United States."
Stephen Schwartz, a frequent contributor, worked in Kosovo for most of 2000.