Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Al Quaeda in the West Bank

From Haaretz

Last update - 07:50 22/03/2006
West Bank Palestinians charged with Al-Qaida membership for first time
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

Two men from the West Bank became on Tuesday the first Palestinians to be charged with membership in Al-Qaida.

The two 20-year-old Nablus residents, Azzam Abu Al-Ades and Bilal Hafanawi, were charged in a Samaria military court with planning a terror attack and membership in Al-Qaida.

Some two months ago, Israeli intelligence figures said evidence indicated Palestinians from Nablus and Jenin had made contact with groups identified with Al-Qaida and received from them financial support for their operations.

Al-Ades and Hafanawi met with Al-Qaida operatives in Jordan, arranged for secret e-mail communication, opened a bank account and received 3,000 Jordanian dinars ($4,240) from Al-Qaida to carry out the Jerusalem attack, according to the indictment.

They were arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing in December 2005 upon their return from the Hashemite kingdom.

At the time of their arrest, they were in the planning stage of an attack on the French Hill section of Jerusalem that was to involve a suicide bomber and a car bomb.

Al-Ades was recruited into Al-Qaida while studying in Jordan. Hafanawi joined him on his last journey to Jordan.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has also recently said evidence was found indicating Al-Qaida infiltrations into the Gaza Strip. In 2000, a Hamas operative from Gaza, Nabil Ouqal, was tried and convicted for attempting to establish a branch of Al-Qaida in the Strip.

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