JERUSALEM – A terrorist organization consisting of Arab citizens of Israel who are connected to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the “military wing” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization, has re-formed north of Jerusalem and is prepared to attack, Brigades sources told WND today.
The group, calling itself the Freedom Brigades of the Galilee, took credit for a shooting attack Friday in Jerusalem’s Old City that wounded nine.
The Freedom Brigades in 2003 announced its formation in the Galilee, a region north of Jerusalem that encompasses about one-third of Israel. Israeli police killed the Freedom Brigades’ leader, Mohammad Khatib, during a shootout in April 2004. Afterwards Israeli security officials announced the entire group had been disbanded.
But on Friday, Khatib’s nephew, Ahmed Khatib, an Israeli Arab from the Galilee region, carried out a shooting attack caught on surveillance camera during which he grabbed the gun of a security guard, shot the guard and reportedly eight passersby. Ahmed Khatib was chased down and killed by a second, nearby armed guard.
Today, the Palestinian Maan News agency published what it said was a message from the Freedom Brigades of the Galilee announcing the attack was carried out by its group to avenge Khatib’s killing. The group did not say whether it was connected to any Palestinian terrorist organization.
Senior sources in Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group told WND today the Freedom Brigades has indeed re-formed and consists of Israeli Arabs ready to carry out attacks within the Jewish state.
The Al Aqsa Brigades sources said the Freedom Brigades group receives direction from West Bank elements of the Al Aqsa Brigades who did not receive amnesty last month in an agreement with Israel in which Fatah militants avowed to end attacks against the Jewish state.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s declared military wing, is responsible for every suicide bombing in Israel the past three years. One-hundred-seventy-eight Brigades terrorists who comprise most of the senior leadership of the group were granted amnesty last month by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, reportedly as a gesture to bolster Abbas against rival Hamas. Olmert is reportedly considering granting amnesty to 208 more Brigades terrorists.
The claims of a terrorist group that formed within Israel consisting of Arab Israeli citizens follows a WND exclusive interview in May in which Brigades leaders warned their group formed a terrorist cell living in the vicinity of Jerusalem consisting of Israeli residents ready to carry out attacks within the Jewish state.
“We have Israeli Arab brothers who are members of the Brigades who live in Israel and will make in the coming days and weeks shootings and suicide bombings,” said a top Brigades leader, who spoke on the condition his name be withheld.
“Even in the case that there will be a cease-fire in Gaza, (the group) will keep attacking Israel. They will see the importance of our cells in Jerusalem with more attacks in the near future,” the Brigades leader said.
Israeli Arabs make up about 19 percent of Israel’s population.
Most terror attacks inside Israel are carried out by Palestinians who infiltrate Jewish cities from West Bank or Gaza Palestinian areas, although there have been some attacks perpetrated by Israeli Arabs.
Dozens of Israeli Arabs have been accused of aiding the infiltration of Palestinian suicide bombers the past few years; over 18 Israeli Arabs have been convicted in Israeli courts the past 10 years for aiding the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.
Israeli Knesset Member Azmi Bishara was recently accused by Israeli security officials of aiding Hezbollah.
Yuval Diskin, director of Israel’s General Security Services, recently warned of Israeli Arab involvement in terror. Diskin told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in March that Israeli Arabs constituted a “strategic threat” to Israel, according to Israel’s Maariv newspaper.
The GSS released a statement in response to Diskin’s quotes warning of “subversive activity by elements seeking to harm the character of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state even when this activity is conducted with the tools that democracy provides.”
A recent poll by the University of Haifa showed half of Israeli Arabs believe Hezbollah’s kidnapping last July of two Israeli troops was justified. The same poll showed more than a quarter of Israel’s Arab citizens believe the Holocaust never happened and 89 percent said they viewed Israel’s bombing of Lebanon last summer as a war crime while only 44 percent said they saw Hezbollah’s rocket attacks against Israeli cities as a crime.
Multiple reports in the Israeli media last summer found Hezbollah flags flying from some Israeli Arab villages in the north of the country, even when the areas were smashed by Hezbollah rockets.
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