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Israeli TV and Radio Announcing Marwan Barghouti Arrested

Aired April 15, 2002 - 10:39   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: While you two were talking, we're just getting some breaking news coming into CNN, word of the arrest of a key figure in the Middle East. The word now that the Fatah militia leader Marwan Barghouti has been arrested by Israeli forces.

Let's check in now with our Jerrold Kessel who is joining us now live from Jerusalem to learn some more about this.

Jerrold, what have you heard?

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, it is a very important development if it is true. All we have at the moment that it's attributed to Israel radio and television that Marwan Barghouti has been detained by Israeli forces we believe in the Ramallah district. Now he is the secretary-general of the Fatah movement, that's the political movement of Yasser Arafat himself.

Mr. Barghouti has long been a -- you can't say on Israel's wanted list, but very much attributed to him by the Israelis that he was affiliated to the military activities of Fatah during the last year and a half of the intifada uprising, the organization known as Tanzim, which took a leading role in the opposition to the Israelis. And as the intifada unfolded and then the later off-shoot of the Tanzim, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, also believed to have been all members of -- originally of Fatah.

Now Mr. Barghouti himself is a political figure who has been linked by the Israeli to these military actions. That has never been established firmly, although he has certainly taken a very active role in the resistance in the form of the popular resistance during the first phases in the first year or so of the intifada. Over the last month and so as this battle between the Israelis and the Palestinians intensified and this Israeli military offensive gotten under way, we know that Mr. Barghouti had gone into hiding and that the Israeli forces were searching for him. They attribute it, as I say, to him very many direct links to the military activities of those organizations. He has never -- that has never been established. He has never taken those kind of claims.

He is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the unofficial parliament in the Palestinian Authority, and is known to be very close to Yasser Arafat himself. He is a man who has a reputation of being involved for a long time in the battle with the Israelis, spent many years in Israeli prisons before and through the intifada of the first open resistance to the Israeli occupation. And since his release during the -- before the peace process, he become a very active member of the peace process, strong supporter of Yasser Arafat's drive to find some kind of a strategic peace with the -- with Israel. But over the last couple of years as the peace process fell away and then finally revolved into this intifada, he has been affiliated to the military actions, according to the Israelis.

So a major development if, in fact, it is true -- Leon.

HARRIS: Very significant. Very significant.

Jerrold Kessel in Jerusalem, thank you very much.

We'll be talking with you about this more in the days to come, no doubt, and more in the hours to come as well here on CNN.

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