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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Members of the most active West Bank terror organization are set to participate in security forces being deployed to protect President Bush during his visit to the Palestinian territories next week, this column has learned.

Bush is due in the region January 9 as part of a follow-up to last month’s U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinian Annapolis summit. During his trip, the American president is scheduled to hold talks with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem, and meet quickly with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

According to Israeli security officials coordinating the deployment of forces with the PA for Bush’s Ramallah visit, members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s declared military wing, have been called upon by the PA to participate in the protection of Bush’s convoy and in securing the perimeter during the meeting with Abbas.

The Brigades is listed as a terror organization by the U.S. State Department. Nevertheless, many Brigades members, including the group’s well-known chiefs, serve openly in Fatah’s Force 17 presidential guard units and the Palestinian Preventative Security Services.

Al Qaeda Infiltration Feared

Israel in recent months received warnings from foreign intelligence agencies that Al Qaeda operatives were seeking to infiltrate the Jewish state to set up cells to carry out large-scale attacks, this column has learned.

According to Israeli security officials, Israel received warnings indicating that Al Qaeda was attempting to send operatives into the Jewish state’s international airport disguised as tourists carrying foreign passports. The latest warning, received a few months ago, indicated the passports might be from Britain, Australia and the United States.

The security officials said Al Qaeda has concluded that Palestinian terror groups operating in the Gaza Strip and West Bank have had difficulty infiltrating Israel due to the country’s security barrier and anti-terror measures, and that Palestinians who do successfully infiltrate are not capable of carrying out large-scale attacks.

The Israeli security officials said the latest warning was shared with Palestinian intelligence agencies. The security officials did not indicate that there had been any thwarted Al Qaeda attempts to infiltrate the country. A Palestinian security official familiar with the report also said he was not aware of any recent attempts.

In August 2003, Israel’s mission to the UN submitted a report stating that the country had thwarted several attempts by Al Qaeda operatives carrying foreign passports to enter Israel in order to gather intelligence and conduct attacks.

Meanwhile, on a new audiotape released this past weekend, Osama bin Laden makes an unusually sharp threat of attacks against Israel.

IDF Kills Terrorist Bodyguard

A terrorist killed this week after he allegedly shot at Israeli forces had served as the main bodyguard of the Palestinian Authority’s chief peace negotiator, WorldNetDaily has learned.

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday killed Muatasum Sharif, a member of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, after he allegedly opened fire on troops in a village west of Ramallah. Palestinian officials claim Sharif did not open fire but was killed after the IDF saw his handgun.

Sharif was an active member of a Brigades cell in Ramallah that carried out scores of shootings, including an attack in northern Samaria in December 2000 that killed Benyamin Kahane, the leader of the Kahane Chai organization, according to security sources. He was as an elite soldier in Fatah’s Preventative Security Services and served as the primary bodyguard for chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia, who is slated to meet President Bush early next month.

Al Aksa Says Here To Stay

The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades denied statements by Fatah’s top security official that his government was dismantling militant groups, including the Brigades.

“There is no Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades any more,” Interior Minister Abdel-Razak al-Yahya told Fatah’s Voice of Palestine radio one day after the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades took responsibility for killing two Israelis who were hiking last Friday near the West Bank city of Hebron.

While Yahya claimed the Brigades agreed to go along with his government’s stated security plan of dismantling militant groups, the Brigades released a statement to WND stating, “We will never throw our arms away…. Instead of dreaming about dismantling us, you should support us with money and weapons to confront the Zionist enemy.”

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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