JERUSALEM – If Israel launches a ground assault in the Gaza Strip, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group will attack Israelis with chemical and biological weapons the group has developed, according to a pamphlet distributed yesterday by the Brigades.

But sources in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, speaking on condition of anonymity, said while the group is attempting to acquire biological and chemical agents, their current capabilities in the field still are mostly primitive.

“With the help of Allah, we are pleased to say that we succeeded in developing over 20 different types of biological and chemical weapons, this after a three-year effort,” said the Al Aqsa statement, which was released yesterday and made national headlines here today.

“We say to (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert and (Defense Minister Amir) Peretz: Your threats of invasion do not frighten us. We will surprise you with new weapons you have not faced until now. As soon as an IDF soldier sets foot on Gazan land, we will respond with a new weapon.”

The group claimed it was working to add chemical and biological agents to missiles that are regularly launched from the Gaza Strip aimed at nearby Jewish communities.

The Al Aqsa Brigades, the declared “resistance wing” of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shooting attacks and rockets launched from Gaza.

Israeli security officials told WND Al Aqsa’s claim of developing more than 20 kinds of chemical and biological agents is “rhetoric.” They said Israel has information the group in the past has conducted low-level experiments adding some kinds of chemicals, including cyanide, to suicide belts, but that Palestinian groups currently don’t have “serious” chemical or biological capabilities.

They also said Palestinian terror groups currently do not have capabilities to add chemical or biological agents to missiles but that there was a fear some countries, particularly Iran, may be assisting in such efforts.

Sources in the Al Aqsa Brigades told WND the group was experimenting with chemical agents. They claimed they currently have in their weapons arsenal certain agents that can be thrown or shot at civilians in canisters, but they declined to name the specific agents.

One Al Aqsa source said the group’s work in Gaza so far has been limited mostly to Al Aqsa members who are studying chemistry at local universities where biological agents are not available and chemical agents are limited.

They said “outside parties” were helping the group add agents to missiles, but would not comment on the current status of the program or name the outside parties.

Palestinian terror groups in the past have discussed adding chemical and biological agents to suicide bomb belts. Mahmoud Abu Tir, a Hamas legislator, was arrested by Israel in the early 1990s and accused of plotting to poison Israeli water supplies.

In a recent WND interview, Abu Tir refused to confirm or deny he was involved in the plot. In 2002, Israeli security forces foiled a plan by Hamas to poison the soda fountain in a popular Jerusalem cafe.

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