Hamas pouring funds into Nablus network

Thursday, July 29, 2004

TEL AVIV Israel's military has determined that Hamas has been investing heavily in the insurgency network in the northern West Bank.

Israeli security sources said Hamas headquarters in Syria has been pouring in large amounts of money to sustain and expand its network in the northern West Bank. The sources said the network was based in Nablus and meant to launch suicide bombing attacks in Israel, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Nablus-based cell was said to be the most active in the West Bank after the military's virtual elimination of the Hamas network in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The Nablus cell was responsible for recruitment, training, procurement of explosives and weapons as well as forging Israeli identification documents.

In June, Israeli military and security agents captured a Hamas cell that operated from An Najah University in Nablus. Security sources said the cell, led by Allah Jaoosi, was in direct contact with Hamas leaders in Syria, which funded the insurgents.

"The investigation showed that the terrorist cell received a great deal of financing and assistance from the Hamas infrastructure in Nablus," a security source said.

[On Thursday, Islamic Jihad commander Zahir Al Ashkar was killed by an elite Israeli military unit near Tulkarm. Al Askhar was regarded as the operations chief of Jihad in much of the northern West Bank.

The sources said the Hamas cell in An Najah was one of the most active in the West Bank. The cell was said to have planned to abduct an Israeli soldier near the West Bank city of Kalkilya, shooting attacks against Israeli communities near the city and infiltration of Shoham, a community inside the pre-1967 Israeli borders.

The plot to attack Shoham included the recruitment of a Palestinian insurgent disguised as a beggar. The Palestinian, meant to pretend to be deaf and dumb, was to have distributed an appeal to passersby for entry to Shoham so that he could solicit residents for money.

The sources said the Hamas cell also planned a suicide bombing in Netanya. The targets for the attack were said to have been chosen by Asama Mahana, one of the cell members who had worked in the Netanya industrial zone.

"The members of the terrorist cell worked to purchase weaponry, recruit suicide bombers for the Hamas terrorist organization, training them in making explosive devices and forging Israeli identification documents," the security source said.

Security sources said the Hamas network was composed largely of those who fled Tulkarm, the target of an intense Israeli military search operation for insurgents. On July 25, six Fatah insurgents were killed in an operation in Tulkarm.

Jaoosi was from Tulkarm and in Nablus became head of the Islamic student bloc in An Najah. Other members of the cell were also identified as student leaders at An Najah. One of them, Osama Zabahi A-Rahman Abu Haga Mahana held an Israeli identity card.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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