Wednesday, September 29, 2004
PA terror links uncovered. (Via LGF)
Further evidence emerged Monday of the direct link between the armed wing of Fatah, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Palestinian Authority.
Obituary notices distributed in the West Bank town of Salfit by Fatah and the PA's General Intelligence Force revealed that the local commander of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who was killed on Sunday when his M-16 rifle exploded, had doubled as a security officer.
Jihad Hassan, who is also known as Abu Naaim, was the commander of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Salfit and has been wanted by Israel for the past two years.
Residents said Hassan purchased two days ago from an arms dealer an M-16 rifle that had been apparently booby-trapped by Israel's Shin Bet. They said the rifle exploded on Sunday while Hassan was carrying it, amputating his right arm.
Hassan was rushed unconscious to a hospital in Ramallah, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Doctors said he had lost a lot of blood before arriving at the hospital.
An obituary notice published by the General Intelligence Force, headed by Gen. Tawfik Tirawi, revealed that the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander also served in the force with the rank of lieutenant.
"The command of the Palestinian General Intelligence Force and all its officers and soldiers mourn the death of martyr and hero lieutenant Jihad Hassan, who was martyred on the soil of Salfit on September 26, 2004 while carrying out his duties," said the obituary statement.
Two other obituaries distributed in Salfit by Fatah groups also pointed out that Hassan was an officer serving in the General Intelligence Force. In one of them, published by Fatah's shabiba organization in Salfit, Hassan is referred to as "one of the leaders of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a member of the General Intelligence Force in Salfit, and a member of the organizational committee of Fatah in Salfit."
Palestinian sources told The Jerusalem Post that Hassan was not the first fugitive to double as a security officer. They said other members of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been recruited to various branches of the PA security forces.
In some cases, the sources added, PA security officers were "moonlighting" as members of the armed wing of Fatah in order to earn extra money.
Members of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have in the past told the Post that they were receiving monthly salaries from the PA. However, following pressure from the US and European donors, the PA last year halted the payments, drawing severe criticism from the gunmen.
Egypt, which is acting as a mediator between the different Palestinian factions, recently urged PA Chairman Yasser Arafat to dismantle the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and other top officials have voiced support for the Egyptian demand.
But Arafat is said to be opposed to the dismantlement of the group and wants to incorporate its members, who are all staunch Arafat loyalists, into the PA security forces.
The Aqsa Martyrs Brigades earlier this week accused the CIA of closing down the group's Web site on the Internet.
The group said that the closure of the Web site kataebaksa.org was the result of "pressure from fanatic Jewish groups."