Just days after the death of the Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic in Prague, some 12 illegal weapons were uncovered at the embassy complex on January 5. While local police declined to give further details, Palestine’s deputy foreign minister hastened to say that the weapons were not illegal.
Deputy Palestinian Foreign Minister Taysir Jaradat confirmed on January 5 that in a meeting with his Czech counterpart he was held to account for the firearms. “We told them that these guns have been in the embassy for a long time -- going back to the former regime of Czechoslovakia -- and these guns were either licensed in the embassy or were given as gifts to the ambassador." Speaking to Voice of Palestine, Jaradat affirmed "They are not in use."
During the years of the Cold War, the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization was closely aligned with the former Soviet Union and the communist-controlled countries, including Romania, the Democratic Republic of Germany, and the former Czechoslovakia. The PLO had diplomatic representatives throughout the former Soviet bloc. PLO terrorists, as were other leftists, received training in explosives, espionage and disinformation. In addition, numerous Palestinians received academic training at universities in Soviet-controlled countries. For example, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas holds a doctorate from a Soviet university.
During its years of Communist rule, Czechoslovakia was friendly with the PLO, but since the 1989 collapse of the Communist regime, the Czech Republic became a member of the EU and NATO and has been friendly to Israel. For example, the Czech Republic cast the only European "no" vote in 2012 against the Palestinian Authority's move to obtain semi-statehood at the United Nations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed the Czech Republic Israel’s best friend in Europe.
Palestinian ambassador Jamal al Jamal (56) was killed on New Year’s Day when he opened the door of a safe at his embassy exploded. He had begun his tour in Prague in October 2013. The detonation occurred in his home, causing extensive injuries to his head, chest and abdomen. The ambassador died in a Prague hospital that day. The safe exploded in the ambassador’s residence where his family was at the time of the blast. Reportedly, a 52-year-old woman was treated after the explosion for smoke inhalation and shock. Neighbors residing near the Palestinian embassy complex in the Suchdol district of Prague have voiced concerns over their safety since the explosion. "According to information from the investigation so far, this was definitely not a terrorist attack," said national police president Martin Cervicek on Czech television.
Czech police affirm that the safe may have been rigged to explode as part of a security mechanism on the door. Safes can be outfitted to destroy secret documents and equipment and are often found in embassies and even warships. The Palestinian foreign ministry stated that the safe exploded when Jamal opened the safe that had been brought from the embassy's old offices during a current move to new premises next to the residence in the Prague suburb. A police spokesperson said that among the possibilities being investigated are: “inexpert handling of an explosive device or its spontaneous detonation.”
The Palestinian government is sending a team of investigators to assist the Czech authorities. According to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, Jamal was "martyred in the line of duty".
Jamal was born in Lebanon to a family of refugees and joined the Fatah terrorist faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization that was led by the Egyptian Yasser Arafat. He served in PLO missions to Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.