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(photo credit: AP [file])
A senior Palestinian source revealed on Thursday that Palestinian security forces located several operatives spreading al-Qaida ideology. The troops arrested one such extremist in Gaza.
Earlier in the day, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the Arab daily el-Hayat that he had proof that al-Qaida cells have infiltrated, and are operating in the West Bank and Gaza." I am very concerned about this," said Abbas.
"If they succeeded in infiltrating in such a way, and if no one watches over them, the result could be disastrous for the entire region. The last piece of information I received on the subject was three days ago, but we still have not been able to lay our hands on the operatives," he said.
A Hamas spokesman responded to Abbas's claim by saying that his organization has no intelligence information regarding al-Qaida cells in the West Bank or Gaza.
"If the things Abu Mazen (Abbas) said are true, then the matter must be handled immediately," he said.
Only last week OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh revealed that global Jihad and al-Qaida cells based in Jordan have stepped up their attempts to infiltrate Israel and are in close contact with Palestinian terror cells based in the West Bank.
'We recently caught several local terror cells that were in touch with the international Global Jihad based in Jordan,' Naveh told a closed meeting at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs. He would not say for certain that the al-Qaida camp in Jordan worked under the direction of the movement's Iraqi leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, but he said 'al-Qaida was working to tighten its grip on the ground' in Jordan and Israel.
Jordan, he said, should be particularly concerned with the Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority. Naveh predicted that Hamas would spread out to the other side of the Jordan River and might even succeed in toppling the Jordanian government.
'Hamas is gathering strength and a dangerous axis starting in Iran, continuing through Iraq and Jordan is in the process of conception,' Naveh told the audience, including former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ya'acov Amidror, the former head of research at Military Intelligence. 'I don't want to be a prophet but I am not sure there will be another king after King Abdullah,' Naveh said.
While the IDF has reported attempts in the past by al- Qaida to infiltrate the Gaza Strip, this was the first time the IDF revealed that cells in the West Bank were also operating in conjunction with the international terror organization.
with Yaakov Katz