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Israel captures Islamic Jihad commander

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

JERUSALEM Israel has captured a leading commander of the Iranian-based Islamic Jihad.

Israeli undercover agents captured Abu Ali Casey in the West Bank city of Jenin on Monday. Casey was identified as head of Islamic Jihad in the city, regarded as the largest stronghold of the insurgency group.

Officers from the Israeli Border Police undercover unit captured Casey after a shootout in which a Palestinian insurgent was killed. The officers found firearms, bulletproof vests and helmets in Casey's house and car, Middle East Newsline reported.

Israeli military sources said Casey was planning a series of attacks on Israeli forces in and around Jenin. They were said to have included suicide bombings, abduction of soldiers and ambushes.

On Tuesday, Israeli officials reported that special operations forces killed commanders within Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Fatah commander, identified as Mahmoud Salah, was killed in an attack in Bethlehem, where he headed forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed Nidal Salameh in the central region. Salameh headed the PLFP in the Gaza Strip and was said to have planned a series of attacks.

Israeli authorities have also been on alert for the entry of Palestinian suicide bombers. They said five Palestinian insurgency cells were captured and charged with killing nine Israelis. Three of the cells comprised members of the Fatah movement.

In the Golan Heights, Israeli security agents arrested a cell of Druse residents linked to the Iranian-backed Hizbullah. An Israeli government statement said the group was working with a Hamas cell in the Gaza Strip to abduct Israeli soldiers and transfer them to Hizbullah.

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