FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
Attacks threatened after amnesty granted militants from Abbas' party
Posted: July 24, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
JERUSALEM – Militants from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' party have organized a terrorist cell in the northern West Bank over the past few days to commit attacks against Israel using the name Abu Ammar Brigades, according to Fatah militants leaders speaking to WND.
The move comes after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week offered amnesty to 178 Fatah fighters, including many who comprise the senior leadership of Fatah's declared military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The Fatah militants signed a document pledging to refrain from terrorism.
According to senior Palestinian sources, Olmert's office told Palestinian officials during talks last week the Israeli army will largely refrain from carrying out anti-terror operations against Fatah fighters, including Al Aqsa Brigades members who were not granted official amnesty.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past three years.
Through members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, WND yesterday was put in touch with a man identifying himself as Abu Muhammad, a leader of the Abu Ammar Brigades, a group officially formed in 2004 as an offshoot of the Al Aqsa Brigades. It has mostly kept a low profile as far as taking credit for attacks under its name.
PLO Leader Yasser Arafat was also known as Abu Ammar. The Brigades group was formed in his memory.
Abu Muhammad said his new West Bank cell of the Abu Ammar Brigades formed in recent days and is comprised of "tens" of Fatah fighters who have not turned in their weapons in line with amnesty agreements signed with Israel.
He said the Abu Ammar Brigades are working as part of Fatah but he claimed attacks aren't coordinated with the Fatah leadership. He said attacks would continue in spite of Israeli pledges to refrain from targeting Fatah militants.
Abu Muhammad said his cell already has committed attacks against Israeli soldiers in the northern West Bank, including two shootings and one failed grenade attack. He claimed although some members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades may be in his group, the Abu Ammar Brigades is "working independently."
He slammed Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members who accepted amnesty as "neglecting the resistance and allowing other groups, like Islam Jihad, to take on the main role of fighting the occupation."
He said his Abu Ammar Brigades cell members would "never" turn in their weapons.
"Even if we don't target Israel, we've carried out killings in the past of (Palestinian) collaborators with Israel. What if family members of those killed seek revenge? We need our weapons to protect from such things," he said.
Abu Muhammad said the Abu Ammar Brigades would refrain from committing suicide bombings and would restrict its attacks to "only targets in the West Bank."
One Israeli security official contacted about the purported new Abu Ammar Brigades cell speculated the group is being used by Fatah militants as a way to attack Israel while distancing themselves from operations due to commitments to cease terrorism.
Olmert last week granted amnesty to a list if 178 Fatah militants. The prime minister's office is in negotiations with the PA to give official amnesty to 206 more Fatah fighters, including many Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members.
Fatah fighters granted amnesty must pledge their resignation from any so-called paramilitary organizations and promise to refrain from terrorism. The wanted militants also must spend a week in a PA holding area and must restrict their movements to the area in which they reside for three months. After a three-month period, they can move freely throughout the West Bank. Since most wanted militants have been confined to their residential areas the past few years anyway due to the threat of Israeli operations, the deal effectively grants them freedom of movement for the first time.
Miri Eisin, a spokesperson for Olmert, said the prime minister granted the terror suspects amnesty "as part of developing a relationship with Abbas and the PA government in the realm of security, economy and many other levels."
"The Israeli government is committed to cooperating with the PA just as the PA committed to international principles, and they are already taking concrete steps on their side. We hope this (amnesty) deal adds to the momentum to bring about a Palestinian state living securely alongside Israel," said Eisin.