JERUSALEM – Members of the most active West Bank terror organization are set to serve in security forces being deployed to protect Sen. Barack Obama during his trip to the West Bank tomorrow, WND has learned.
Obama is due to visit Israeli officials in Jerusalem and leaders of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah as part of a wider Middle Eastern and European tour that includes Jordan, France and Germany.
According to security officials coordinating deployments of forces with the PA for Obama’s Ramallah visit, members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s declared military wing, have been called upon by the PA to participate in the protection of Obama, particularly in securing the perimeter during a scheduled meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Brigades is listed as a terror organization by the U.S. State Department. The group took credit along with the Islamic Jihad terror organization for every suicide bombing in Israel between 2005 and 2006 and is responsible for thousands of shootings and rocket firings. Statistically, the Al Aqsa Brigades perpetuated more terrorism from the West Bank than Hamas, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.
Brigades leaders, speaking to WND on condition of anonymity, confirmed they will participate in protecting Obama as official members of the PA’s security forces.
Many Brigades members, including the group’s chiefs, serve openly in Fatah’s Force 17 presidential guard units and the Palestinian Preventative Security Services; hundreds of Force 17 and Preventative officers are slated to secure Ramallah during Obama’s visit there.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members are slated to serve in a third ring of security forces patrolling the periphery of Abbas’ Ramallah compound during the Palestinian leader’s meeting with Obama.
The Israeli Defense Forces, working with U.S. security coordinators, will protect the main West Bank highway Obama’s convoy will use to approach Ramallah. Security for Obama will be largely turned over to the Palestinians once he enters Ramallah, although security plans are being heavily coordinated with the U.S.
Various high-profile Al Aqsa Brigades terrorists serve in Fatah’s security forces, including those in Ramallah. The current chief of Fatah’s Force 17, Abu Hayyet, is accused by Israel of planning or involvement in at least 10 deadly terror attacks, according to Israeli security officials.
Abbas previously appointed senior Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of Force 17, a major, U.S.-financed Fatah security force. Damra, who was arrested by Israel last November, was on the Jewish state’s most-wanted list of terrorists.
The chief of the Brigades in Ramallah also serves in the Preventative Security Services.
Both Israeli and Palestinian security officials, speaking to WND, said there was no known threat to Obama.
Al Aqsa Brigades members doubling as PA security officers previously participated in security for other visiting U.S. officials without incident.
One Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member who doubles as a PA security force officer and who is set to protect Obama, joked if there was any threat to the presidential candidate it will come from Israel:
“Maybe the Israelis will try something because of Obama’s policy on Israel, which the Zionists don’t like, but we will certainly protect Obama. We are professional security forces,” the Al Aqsa member said.
The information Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members will protect Obama comes after Israel announced last week it arrested six Arabs who allegedly were plotting to assassinate President Bush on behalf of al-Qaida.
Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services released for publication that it had arrested six Arabs – two of them Israeli citizens and the other four Palestinian residents of eastern Jerusalem – for attempting to set up an al-Qaida cell with plans to shoot down Bush’s helicopter during the president’s recent visit to Israel.
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