Tags: Saudi | Arabia | Militants | Help | Hamas | Develop | Missile

Saudi Arabia Militants Help Hamas Develop Missile

Sunday, 06 January 2002 12:00 AM

The Islamic militant group Hamas, which announced last month that it would suspend its attacks in Israel, is responsible for numerous deadly suicide bombings, as well as mortar fire on Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip during the last 15 months.

Mortar attacks in the Gaza Strip have caused few injuries but have damaged homes and property. Mortars have been fired just twice from the West Bank at the Jewish Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. One of them hit a school there, causing damage but no casualties.

But the new Qassam rocket is said to have a much longer range of some five kilometers (three miles) or more, enabling Hamas militants to launch it from a further "safer" distance and to penetrate much deeper into Israel.

If the technology were transferred to the West Bank that would mean large Israeli population centers could be within range.

Israel's largest population belt is only nine to 11 miles wide, bordered by the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem borders Bethlehem and Beit Jala, which have already been used as firing ranges from which to shoot at nearby Israeli neighborhoods.

According to the Arabic Al-Bawaba website, Palestinian security officials told Time Magazine recently that the Qassam rocket was a locally produced version of a North Korean design.

The sources were quoted as saying that the Iranian backed Hizballah organization, based in south Lebanon, had obtained the rocket from Syrian soldiers. The device was then smuggled into the Gaza Strip where Hamas engineers set about to copy it.

The Israeli Shin Bet, secret service revealed that it had arrested Osama Zohadi Hamed Karika, 27, last month, who had been sent abroad to arrange funding for the Qassam missile project and the transfer of those funds to the West Bank, a statement released from the prime minister's office said.

According to the secret service, Karika was carrying documents "describing in great detail the development process of the Qassem missile industry in the Gaza Strip."

The papers, which Karika handed over to interrogators, also included the names of those behind the activities, financial cost and the intent of the Gaza command "to vigorously act to transfer the accumulated knowledge and experience to their cohorts in [the West Bank]."

Karika admitted to interrogators that he had been recruited by a senior Hamas militant in the Gaza Strip, Nidal Fathi Rabah Farhat and sent on a mission to coordinate activities with Hamas members in Saudi Arabia. He was instructed to say that he was making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

While there he relayed messages in return for which he received money "earmarked for activities of cells in the field."

But Karika was caught in December when he attempted to make another trip, this time under the guise of needing special medical treatment. He was arrested at the border crossing between Israel and Egypt.

According to security sources, the PA security apparatus knows Farhat's activities and his intent to copy the missile industry to the West Bank. But sources say the PA has not taken any action against Farhat thus far.

The U.S. and European Union have called on Arafat to dismantle the infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

As part of the "war on terrorism," President Bush announced last month, the assets of several groups believed to be connected with Hamas are being frozen.

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The Islamic militant group Hamas, which announced last month that it would suspend its attacks in Israel, is responsible for numerous deadly suicide bombings, as well as mortar fire on Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip during the last 15 months. Mortar attacks in the...
Saudi,Arabia,Militants,Help,Hamas,Develop,Missile
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2002-00-06
Sunday, 06 January 2002 12:00 AM
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