JERUSALEM – Two members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ official security forces were arrested in conjunction with this past weekend’s bloody massacre in which five family members were brutally stabbed to death inside their home in the Jewish village of Itamar, WND has learned.
The names of the apprehended suspects will be released to the Israeli media within hours but were revealed to WND by security officials working on the murder.
Two cousins are now in Israeli custody and are suspected in the slayings. Ahmed Awad is an officer in Abbas’ Preventative Security Services in the northern West Bank city of Nablis. Iyad Awad is an officer in Abbas’ General Intelligence services in Ramallah.
Both the Preventative and General Intelligence services of Fatah are armed, trained and funded by the U.S.
The duo did not personally carry out the murders, but rather they assisting in the planning and logistics, informed security sources told WND.
Since the late 1990s, the U.S. has run training bases for PA militias. The U.S. also has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid and weapons to build up the PA militias.
Since 2007, the U.S. has stepped up its efforts at training the PA, including a new, advanced program for Palestinian police to train 500 to 600 cadets at a time at the American bases.
The U.S. currently operates training bases for the PA police and other militias, such as Force 17 and the Preventative Security Services in the West Bank city of Jericho and the Jordanian village of Giftlik.
Yesterday, WND was the first to report that cells from the PA’s so-called military wing were involved with planning and carrying out the killings.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the “military wing” of Abbas’ Fatah party, at first released a pamphlet taking responsibility for the attack and then quickly retracted the statement.
Many Brigades members, including much of the group’s senior leadership, double as members of Fatah’s U.S.-backed security forces.
Top sources in the Brigades leadership in the northern West Bank city of Nablus confirmed to WND that members of the Fatah group planned and helped to carry out the attack.
The sources claimed the attack was not sanctioned by the Fatah leadership but was planned by Brigades members who were acting on their own.
Also, the sources said the actual perpetrators of the attack were sleeper cells from Hamas, while the Brigades leaders planned the attack, provided logistical support and aided in the Hamas agents’ escape.
If accurate, this would demonstrate unusual cooperation between Hamas and Fatah rivals.
The U.S. administration has labeled Fatah as a “negotiating partner” for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Just two weeks ago, WND reported exclusively that members of Abbas’ Brigades, now classified by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization, have been brandishing weapons publicly in recent days despite a disarmament agreement with Israel.
According to informed Israeli security sources, messages were passed to the PA by the Israel Defense Forces and Israel’s Shabak security services that the armed Brigades members must lay down their weapons or face arrest.
Israeli security officials told WND two weeks ago they fear the newfound militancy of the Brigades – evidenced by their publicly brandishing weapons – may be a strategic decision on the part of the PA to orient itself in a more extremist direction following President Obama’s championing of unrest that toppled pro-Western regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.
Last Friday’s massacre, in the northern West Bank village of Itamar, saw Palestinian assailants stab to death the Fogel family – father Udi, 37; mother Ruth, 36; 10-year-old Yoav; 4-year-old Elad; and 3-month-old Hadas – inside their home. Two other children in the house at the time were not hurt in the attack, apparently because the terrorists did not notice them.
Israel National News reported the initial findings of the investigation show the terrorists stabbed the Fogel family’s sleeping 3-year-old in the heart and slashed the throat of his 3-month-old sister.
The assailants apparently entered the Fogel’s home through a living room window. They did not notice a 6-year-old boy sleeping on the couch and continued on to the bedroom, where they slashed the throats of the father and newborn baby sleeping there.
The mother, Ruth, came out of the bathroom and was stabbed in the doorway. The evidence shows she tried to fight the terrorists.
The Palestinians found 10-year old Yoav reading in bed when they stabbed him to death.
They apparently also did not notice a 2-year old asleep in his bed but murdered the 3-year old with two stabs to his heart.
After that, the terrorists reportedly locked the door of the house and exited through the window.
The Fogel’s 12-year-old daughter returned home only to find the horrific scene. She reportedly ran out of the house screaming.
According to reports, she was not able to initially enter the locked house so she woke up a neighbor, who assisted her in waking up one of the sleeping children inside the Fogel home who had had not been noticed by the terrorists.
Palestinian Media Watch today reported on the rampant incitement to violence in the PA media in the days and weeks before yesterday’s attack.
Just one day before the assault, Sabri Saidam, adviser to and under-secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, delivered a speech in which he emphasized that weapons must be turned towards the “main enemy [Israel]” and that internal differences of opinion must be set aside.
In the week leading up to the terrorist attack, the PA announced plans for a football tournament named after the first female Palestinian suicide bomber, Wafa Idris, who killed one and reportedly injured more than 150 when she blew herself up in Jerusalem in January 2002.
Earlier, Abbas’ representative, Azzam Al-Ahmed, member of the Fatah Central Committee, was the guest of honor at a Palestinian scout ceremony in which buildings representing Jewish residents of the West Bank were blown up.
In December, Abbas granted the relatives of a Palestinian terrorist $2,000 as part of a regular PA campaign that supports so-called “shahids” or “martyrs” who die while attacking Jews.