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Israeli court sentences Palestinian member of Al Qaida

Special to World
Tuesday, February 4, 2003

TEL AVIV Israel has sentenced a Palestinian convicted of being an Al Qaida agent ordered to stage an attack that would result in massive casualties.

Nabil Okal was sentenced by a military court to 27 years in the first prosecution of an alleged Al Qaida agent captured by Israel. Okal, 29, was said to have received financing from Hamas and orders from Al Qaida to train Palestinians+ in chemical weapons.

The Israeli indictment against Okal does not accuse him of being a formal member of Al Qaida. Instead, Okal was said to have trained with Al Qaida in Afghanistan, where he received instruction in bombing Israeli targets.

From Afghanistan, Okal was to have returned to the Gaza Strip to organize cells for attacks against Israel. Okal was said to have received training in assembling a range of bombs, including those filled with toxic material.

The indictment said Okal was a member of Hamas and loaned to Al Qaida for training. Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin was said to have given Okal and another detainee, Mohammed Abu Libdeh, $5,000 for additional training in Afghanistan. Okah was arrested in June 2000 as he tried to leave the Gaza Strip for Afghanistan.

For his part, Okal denied any link to Al Qaida. He acknowledged that he received training in Afghanistan.

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