Presidential Security (al-Amn al-Ri'asah)
The roots of al-Amn al-Ri'asah (Presidential Security) trace to an organization first created by Fatah leaders in the 1970s, intended to provide security for Arafat and the PLO: Force 17. Force 17 soon emerged as an elite group engaging in intelligence activities and, increasingly in the 1980s, terrorism against Israel and rival Palestinian groups.
Although Force 17 was officially disbanded upon Arafat and the PLO's return to Palestine, in reality it was merged into the new Presidential Security. The number of Presidential Security officers with Force 17 backgrounds leads many Palestinians and outsiders to use the names synonymously.
This elite unit, with an estimated 3,000 members commanded by Faisal Abu Sharah, was charged with protecting Arafat, as well as providing security for PLO officials, other important persons, and significant institutions. To these ends, am-Amn al-Ri'asah carries out security operations in conjunction with the National Security Force. The Presidential Guard unit of al-Amn al-Ri'asah comprised Arafat's closest circle of personal security. Additionally, the Intelligence Unit of al-Amn al-Ri'asah engages in counterterrorism and anti-opposition activities.
Although Oslo II mandated that all the security services be consolidated within the General Security Service (GSS), Arafat maintained Presidential Security under his direct supervision and outside the control of the GSS. He also kept the Special Security Force under his direct supervision.
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