Iran, Al Qaeda Working with Fatah in Territories

(Ha'aretz) Amos Harel - Iran has deepened its influence in the territories, is in contact with the armed wings of Fatah in the West Bank, and is becoming involved in issuing instructions for attacks. In the past, Iran only gave money to Islamic groups - the Hamas and particularly the Islamic Jihad. But in recent months, close ties have developed between the Iranians and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is affiliated with Fatah, a supposedly secular movement. The Israeli intelligence community has identified a phenomenon whereby some Fatah people have become religious during the current conflict. Fatah members began conducting suicidal attacks and some recorded living wills on videotape, with Islamic themes. The Islamic groups are seen to have a better financial infrastructure, able to take care of the activists and their families. Some top PA officials have lately been telling Israelis: "We've lost control over the 'brigades.' Iran is running them instead of us." The instructions arrive via the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Hizballah, and Fatah elements in Lebanon, and are transferred to the Tanzim, particularly in the Nablus area. In some cases, the messages are detailed instructions for terrorist attacks. A senior defense establishment source said, "We can see a straight line from Iran, through Lebanon to the Fatah in Samaria." In addition, lately, al Qaeda has been sending messages from Lebanon to Gaza, and some are reaching the popular committees, local factions of Fatah in Gaza.

2002-12-13 00:00:00

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