JERUSALEM – A portion of $86.4 million in aid the United States pledged last week to bolster security forces affiliated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party will fall into the hands of the Hamas terror group, Hamas officials told WND.
Also, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, a terror group allied with Hamas, told WND his organization is planning attacks against Israel using weapons recently transferred to Fatah by the U.S. and Egypt.
The Popular Resistance Committees leader said attacks using the foreign weapons are meant “to prove the Zionist-American conspiracy to bolster forces against us won’t work.”
“We will obtain the U.S. weapons,” the Committees leader said.
According to documents revealed Friday, the Bush administration will provide $86.4 million to strengthen security forces loyal to Abbas, including Force 17, Abbas’ security detail, which also serves as de facto police units in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Some members of Force 17 also are openly members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror organization, Fatah’s declared “military wing.”
U.S. officials confirmed the financial aid is set to be transferred to Fatah.
The multi-million-dollar grant will be used to “assist the Palestinian Authority presidency in fulfilling PA commitments under the Road Map (peace plan) to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza,” a U.S. government document said.
According to reports confirmed by Israeli and Palestinian officials, the U.S. and Egypt recently transferred rifles and ammunition to Force 17.
Abu Oubaida, a spokesman for Hamas so-called “military wing,” told WND his terror group will obtain any weapons transferred to Fatah militias or purchased by Fatah using the incoming U.S. aid.
“I am sure that like in the past, this $86 million from America will find its way to the Hamas resistance via the honorable persons in the Fatah security organizations, including in Force 17. I can confirm 100 percent that this money and purchased weapons will find its way to Hamas,” said Abu Oubaida.
The Hamas spokesman and other Hamas officials said “scores” of Fatah militants have switched over to Hamas in recent months.
Sources close to Hamas said the Fatah militants, including members of Force 17, worked with Hamas after receiving larger paychecks from the terror group.
“When they join Hamas, they bring along their new weapons,” said a Hamas source.
A senior Fatah security official in the Gaza Strip, speaking on condition his name be withheld, confirmed to WND Fatah has a “significant problem” of its militia members in Gaza joining Hamas.
In an interview with WND, Muhammad Abdel-Al, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, said his terror group would likely obtain weapons and aid given to Fatah.
“We vow to show the Israelis very soon the weapons lately channeled to the Presidential Guards (Force 17) and to the Fatah security services will be directed against the (Israeli) occupation,” said Abdel-Al
“In all the security services, including in Force 17, there are activists affiliated with all the Palestinian groups, including ours, and Hamas,” he said. “We vow that there will be no use (of these arms) in a civil war, as we promise that should these arms reach us, we will use them against the occupation and the Zionist enemy.”
The Popular Resistance Committees is a coalition of several Palestinian terror groups and is responsible for scores of anti-Israel shootings and rocket attacks. The Committees is also accused of carrying out a bombing in 2003 on a U.S. convoy in Gaza in which three American contractors were killed.
A Committees leader told WND his group is planning terror attacks using American and Egyptian weapons recently transferred to Fatah and obtained by the Committees.
He said when the attacks occur, the Committees will announce the foreign weapons were used.
The reports of U.S. aid to Fatah comes after weeks of factional clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which have engaged in heavy firefights since Abbas last month called for new Palestinian elections in a move widely seen as an attempt to dismantle the Hamas-led PA.
According to reports here confirmed by Israel, Egypt last month transferred 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 20,000 magazines and 2 million rounds of ammunition to Fatah security organizations in the Gaza Strip to bolster the groups in clashes against rival Hamas factions.
WND reported the U.S. sent assault rifles and ammunition last month to Fatah groups in Gaza. The weapons were delivered by an Israeli army convoy, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials involved in the transfer.
Also in May, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Israel aided in delivering a shipment of U.S. weapons to Fatah.
Abu Yousuf, a senior member of Fatah’s Force 17, which received the Egyptian and American weapons, told WND the arms shipments will be used to attack Jews and “fight Israeli occupation.”
Like many Force 17 members, Abu Yousuf, openly serves in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group.
“These weapons will be used to fight Israeli occupation forces, especially to defend against Zionist aggression in the Gaza Strip,” said Abu Yousuf.
The Fatah militant accused Egypt and the U.S. of attempting to generate Palestinian civil war by arming one faction against another.
Abu Yousuf went on to hint new weapons provided to his group with the help of Israel could be shared with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror organization.
“During our official service and during our job hours we are soldiers (in Force 17). What we do in our free time it is our business. Of course, as members of Fatah, some of us are members in the Brigades and we take part in the defense and protection of our people and in the fight against the Israeli occupation,” Abu Yousuf said.
Both Israel and the U.S. State Department consider the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to be a terror organization. But U.S. policy calls Fatah “moderate” and dictates the Brigades is a separate entity, but still affiliated with Fatah.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, together with Islamic Jihad, has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed American teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis. The Brigades also has carried out scores of deadly shooting and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians in recent months.
All Brigades leaders are also members of Fatah. Abbas last June appointed senior Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of Force 17. Damra, who was arrested by Israel in November, was on the Jewish state’s most-wanted list of terrorists.
U.S. weapons prompting Palestinian arms race?
Meanwhile, Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’ so-called military wing, told WND the U.S. aid and weapons shipments have prompted a Palestinian arms race.
The Hamas leader said weapons procured as a result of the U.S. shipment will be used against Israel.
“The more the Americans give Abu Mazen (Abbas) weapons, the more we will have in the future weapons to use against the Israelis, because it incites the different organizations to intensify their own supply of weapons,” said Abu Abdullah of Hamas’ Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas’ declared “resistance” department.
According to Palestinian security sources, the increased drive by Hamas to obtain new weapons has raised the price of arms in Egypt and Jordan.
“An M-16 that sold for 6,000 Jordanian Dinar now is worth 10,000 Dinar because Hamas is trying to get more weapons,” a Palestinian security source told WND.
Like Hamas spokesman Abu Oubaida, Hamas’ Abu Abdullah said U.S. weapons to Fatah would eventually fall into the hands of Hamas:
“These American weapons will be one day the property of all the Palestinian people and its resistance, including Hamas,” Abu Abdullah said. “The U.S. gives weapons to Fatah during internal Palestinian clashes, but one day when we go back to carrying out operations together, these [weapons] will be shared.”
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