First Published: 2002-12-07

 
PA uncovers Israelis posing as Al-Qaeda agents
 

Gaza security chief announces arrest of three Palestinians used by Israeli intelligence as al-Qaeda operatives.

 

Middle East Online

The Shin Beth has the means to do whatever it wants: Shbak

By Sophie Claudet - GAZA CITY

A senior Palestinian security official claimed Saturday his services had uncovered an Israeli plot to create a mock Al-Qaeda cell in the Gaza Strip, while an Israeli official dismissed the charge as "absurd".

Gaza head of preventive security Rashid Abu Shbak told journalists at a press conference that Israeli agents, posing as operatives of Osama bin Laden's terrorist group, recruited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

"Over the past nine months, we've been investigating eight cases in which Israeli intelligence posing as Al-Qaeda operatives recruited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip," said Abu Shbak, referring to a series of e-mails and phone call conversations.

He added that three Palestinians had been detained.

Abu Shbak's revelations came two days after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon charged Al-Qaeda militants were operating in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon, raising fears of an intensification of Israeli military operations.

A spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry branded the Palestinian claim "ridiculous" and "some kind of propaganda campaign," adding that "the Palestinian territories have become a breeding ground for terrorism.

"There is no need for Israel to make up something like this because (the hardline Islamic movements) Hamas, Islamic Jihad and (Lebanon-based militant group) Hezbollah are all the same as Al-Qaeda," spokesman Gilad Millo said.

"If... Sharon has made these allegations, he must be basing it on some evidence," he also said.

Abu Shbak said three Palestinians used by Israeli intelligence had been arrested, while another 11 were released "because they came and informed us of this Israeli plot."

He poured cold water on the theory that Al-Qaeda was operating in the occupied territories.

"Al-Qaeda doesn't recruit so easily and openly," Abu Shbak said.

The security chief said his services had traced back to Israel cellphone calls and e-mails in which Palestinians were asked to join Al-Qaeda.

He said the calls to the Gaza Strip purportedly came from Germany and Lebanon. One e-mail was even signed bin Laden.

"We investigated the origin of those calls, which used roaming, and messages and found out they all came from Israel," he told journalists.

"The Shin Beth - Israeli internal intelligence - has the means to do whatever it wants."

He said the Palestinians recruited were then paired unbeknownst to them with Israeli collaborators in Gaza.

He said they received money and weapons "although most of these weapons did not even work".

The money was provided by "Palestinian collaborators with Israel" directly to the new recruits or "was transferred from bank accounts in Jerusalem or Israel," Shbak said.

"We are sure that Israel is behind this and that there are absolutely no groups such as Al-Qaeda operating here," the security chief said, adding however "we can't say there will never be Al-Qaeda here, but at least not for now."

But neither did Shbak contest the fact that as many as 11 Palestinians had welcomed the call from Israel to join Al-Qaeda.

"Those who accepted were mostly members of the military wing of Palestinian organizations," he said.

International cooperation minister Nabil Shaath, who also attended the press conference, accused Sharon of trying to piggyback on the US-led 'war against terrorism' to justify "more attacks on the Palestinian people and violence in the Gaza Strip".

Sharon's announcement marked the first time Israel officially claimed that Al-Qaeda, held responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, was operating in the Palestinian territories.

It was considered a surprise because the Gaza Strip is virtually sealed off by Israeli troops.

The hardline Israeli leader also charged other members of the terror group were cooperating with Lebanon's Shiite militia Hezbollah.

The Lebanese government and Hezbollah had also dismissed the accusations.

Three Israelis and 10 Kenyans were killed in a suicide attack on a hotel near the Kenyan port of Mombasa last Thursday, shortly after missiles narrowly missed an Israeli charter flight taking off from there with 261 passengers.

The attacks were purportedly claimed by Al-Qaeda on an Islamic website.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Jihadists flock to fight on ‘unprecedented scale’

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli