Israel says Hamas-Saudi link uncovered

By JOSHUA BRILLIANT, United Press International

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The Israel Security Agency said Wednesday that Hamas headquarters in Saudi Arabia were going to fund the construction of rockets in the West Bank, but that it caught the man who was on his way to Mecca to get the money.

Palestinian security knew of the plans but did nothing to stop it, ISA said in a statement issued through the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem.


However, Palestinian Authority security sources said that the PA crackdown on Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants is continuing and that the PA had shut down four factories that produced mortars, rockets and other explosive devices.

Israeli government officials have said that although the number of attacks has greatly declined, the PA is not doing its best stop militants who are still active in the Palestinian territories.

High-ranking Islamic Hamas movement sources told United Press International that Hamas engineers are developing a new missile called Qassam 3. The sources said the new homemade missile can carry 10 kilograms of T.N.T. explosives, and reach a distance of 10 kilometers (about 6 miles).


They said engineers invented the mortar shell, developed it to Qassam 1 with a 1 kilometer (under 1 mile) distance, which was then developed init to Qassam 2, which reaches targets within 3 kilometers (about 2 miles).

The sources said Hamas engineers have been using the time since attacks on Israel were haulted to develop the new homemade missile.

ISA's report said that a fortnight ago Israeli officials arrested a Hamas activist who was on his way from the Gaza Strip to Saudi Arabia, "to arrange funding for the Qassam missile project," and transfer it to the West Bank.

The Palestinians have fired several such missiles in the Gaza Strip, with limited success. They sought to transfer the know-how also to the West Bank, a security source said.

"Documents were found on the emissary describing in great detail the development process of the Qassam missile industry in the Gaza Strip, those behind these activities, financial costs and the intentions of the command in Gaza to vigorously act to transfer the accumulated knowledge and experience to their cohorts in Judea and Samaria," the statement said. The Israeli government uses Judea and Samaria in referring to the West Bank.

The Israelis arrested the emissary, Osama Zohadi Hamed Karika, 27, at the Rafah crossing from the Gaza Strip to Egypt.


Karika reportedly told his investigators that a senior Hamas militant in the Gaza Strip sent him to Saudi Arabia "to coordinate activities with members of the organization that he would meet there."

Karika, who first traveled in August, said he was going to Mecca for a pilgrimage. He received money for Hamas cells' activities.

Last month he was asked to go again under the pretext of seeking medical treatment. The Israelis arrested him at the border with the documents he was asked to relay sewed into his clothes. They transferred him to the Israel Security Agency.

Several months earlier at that border crossing, Israelis caught a Palestinian who was allegedly trained by Osama bin Laden's al Qaida in Afghanistan.

(With reporting by Saud Abu Ramadan in Gaza.)

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