Jailed Hamas leader says U.S. may send him to an Arab nation, not Israel
March 28, 1997
Web posted at: 11:20 p.m. EST (0420 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook says the U.S. government
is trying to resolve a diplomatic problem by relocating him from a U.S. prison to a
country in the Middle East.
The self-described political leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas told CNN
in an exclusive interview Friday that the FBI continues to talk with Egypt, Jordan
and his own lawyers to resolve the problem.
Marzook has been in a New York federal prison for two years, awaiting extradition
to Israel on charges that he supported Hamas terrorists.
The group Hamas has been recognized for operating schools, hospitals and openly
sponsoring violent attacks in Israel, including last week's suicide bombing in Tel
Aviv that killed three people and injured more than 40.
Israel has not publicly stated that it still wants Marzook returned since he stopped
fighting extradition two months ago. Analysts say Israel now fears that trying him
might prompt violent retaliation by Hamas. Yet the United States and Israel appear
reluctant to simply release an accused terrorist.
Marzook said the United States wants restrictions placed on his activities, movement
and ability to speak publicly -- restrictions that he likened to "house arrest." But
those countries so far have refused such conditions, he said.
"The FBI went to Jordan, asking the Jordanians to accept me there, and the
Jordanians said OK, yes, we'll accept him in Jordan. And they (the U.S.) said there
are some conditions. The Jordanians said no, we are not accepting any conditions to
welcome him in Jordan," Marzook told CNN. The U.S. then "asked if I'm welcome
in Egypt, and the same thing: the Egyptian government said we can't accept him with
"They're trying to save their faces right now," Marzook said during the interview in
the federal Metropolitan Corrections Center in New York City. He said he would
refuse to accept any restrictions on his freedom, because he has not been formally
charged with any crimes.
The U.S. and Israeli governments have repeatedly declined to discuss Marzook or
his claims. The U.S. attorney's office in New York would only say that the United
States is obligated to release or extradite Marzook by April 6, two months after the
court acted on his waiver of the extradition appeal.
But Marzook and his lawyers insist that the government is obligated to release him
Friday, two months after Marzook filed the waiver. On Monday, they plan to file a
motion seeking to force the government to release him immediately.
During the interview, Marzook said he opposed all violence. But he said he cannot
condemn the Hamas attacks while Palestinians are still being "killed in the streets,"
imprisoned, forcibly relocated from their homes, with their land occupied by Israeli
soldiers and settlers.
"I condemned any killing (of) civilians many times... I said both sides should stop
killing civilians," said Marzook, a 45-year-old father of six. He has a doctorate in
engineering from Louisiana's Columbia State University.
But "when you see the desperate Palestinian everywhere, without any solution, you
can't expect anything," he said. "They're trying in the peaceful solution to solve their
problems. But they're getting worse: their land taken from them ... all of them now
in the big prisons, reservation area. There is no hope for the Palestinian. If you don't
solve those problems among the Palestinians, it's very difficult to see the Palestinian
come without any violence, without any struggle."
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