Israel captures Jihad commander

Special to World
Thursday, June 3, 2004

TEL AVIV Israel has captured a senior operative of the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank who served as a liasion to Syria.

Israeli forces detained Bassam Abdul Rahman Ahmed Abu Aker, identified as a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Abu Aker, 42, has been sought by Israeli forces since 1999 and was described as one of the leaders of Jihad in the Bethlehem region.

Israeli military sources said Abu Aker was arrested on Tuesday during a joint military and security operation in the Bethlehem suburb of Bet Sahour. The sources said Abu Aker has been in contact with Jihad headquarters in Damascus.

An Israeli military statement said Abu Aker was involved in recruitment for Jihad, directing Palestinian shooting attacks on the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo as well as against military targets in the Bethlehem region. Abu Aker was also said to have been responsible for the March 2001 car-bombing in the Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem, in which five Israeli citizens were injured.

In March 2002, the statement said, Abu Aker sent a suicide bomber, who carried out the attack in the French Hill neighborhood in Jerusalem. The suicide bomber blew himself up while trying to get on a bus, injuring several Israeli civilians.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority handed over a six-kilogram suicide belt found in Bethlehem to Israeli military authorities. Israeli sappers destroyed the belt.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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