The US government previously sent weapons to Abbas in May after the Palestinian leader requested the arms to bolster Fatah's Force 17
In June, WND broke the story about how assault rifles that were part of a cache of weapons transferred by the US made its way to members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, some of whom are also officers of Force 17. The weapons may have been used in a string of shootings, including an ambush against a busload of Israeli school girls here, Al Aqsa members told WND.
In some of the worst infighting since Hamas won the majority of parliamentary seats earlier this year, 11 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 were injured in Gaza Strip clashes that broke out two days ago when a 3,500-strong Hamas militia confronted members of Fatah's security forces protesting the government's inability to pay their wages.
Last night Hamas attacked several Fatah officers in Gaza. In retaliation, Fatah supporters reportedly attacked and torched Hamas offices throughout the West Bank, including the prime minister's offices in Ramallah.
Fatah clans are known to be more dominant in the West Bank than in Gaza.
US considers Abbas a 'moderate'
Palestinian schools today were closed in Gaza for fear of further clashes.
In a marked escalation of rhetoric, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the declared "military wing" of Fatah, threatened this morning to kill Hamas leaders, including Damascus-based Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshal.
The Brigades, along with the Islamic Jihad terror group, are responsible for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years. The group has also carried out scores of shooting and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
A senior Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told WND today Fatah security officials noted that in Sunday's firefights Hamas members used weaponry more advanced than what was known to have been in the Hamas arsonal, including newer styles of assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades.
The official said Abbas has enlisted senior Egyptian and Jordanian officials to help him petition the US for more weapons to arm his group, particularly Fatah security forces in Gaza, against Hamas.
The official said the request will be brought up in meetings with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is in the region this week.
The US considers Abbas to be a "moderate," and regularly supports his Fatah organization with money and weapons.
In May, Egypt, Jordan and Israel were reportedly involved in talks requesting weapons from the US, stating rifles and ammunition were needed to arm Fatah for possible clashes with Hamas. America reportedly agreed.
'US rifles used in anti-Israel shooting attacks'
The weapons were transported in late-May into Israel from the Jordanian border and were delivered to Force 17 by a convoy protected by the Israeli Defense Forces. The cache was driven to Ramallah and to the Gaza Strip border.
In Ramallah, the US weapons were trucked to the main Fatah government building, which is used by both Force 17 and members of the Al Aqsa Brigades, Palestinian officials involved in the transfer told WND.
The US weapons transfer reportedly included 3,000 American-made M-16 assault rifles and over 1 million rounds of ammunition.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced he had approved the shipment of weapons and ammunition, explaining the transfer was meant for Abbas' personal protection.
"I did this because we are running out of time and we need to help Abu Mazen," Olmert told reporters.
But following the transfer, Force 17 senior officer Abu Yousuf told WND in an exclusive interview the American weapons will be shared with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and utilized for attacks against Jews.
Abu Yousuf is also a member of the Al Aqsa Brigades. He hinted the weapons were used in shooting attacks in June that killed one Israeli civilian and wounded another.
Many Force 17 officers are also members of the Brigades. In June Abbas appointed senior Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra to head Force 17. Damra is on Israel's most wanted list of terrorists. He is accused of masterminding a string of attacks. Damra was arrested by Israel last month.
Abu Yousuf told WND the US and Israel facilitated the May transfer of weapons to his Force 17 unit "for its own political purposes. We are not concerned with the reasons. The weapons will not be used against our brothers, only (against) Israelis."
Sources close to the Al Aqsa Brigades told WND the American assault rifles were used in three separate anti-Israel shooting attacks in June. One attack killed a 35-year-old Israeli Arab on a major West Bank highway on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Israeli security officials say the shooters likely mistook the victim for a Jew. The second attack, which occurred June 13 on the same highway, lightly wounded an Israeli.
In the third attack, the Al Aqsa Brigades on June 19 on a West Bank highway ambushed a bus carrying Israeli school girls. The bus was armored. The school girls escaped unharmed.
Abu Yousuf refused to confirm whether the American weapons were used in the spate of highway shootings, but he hinted the information was accurate.
"It is no coincidence that as soon as these American weapons arrived, we were able to carry out these accurate shootings," Abu Yousuf said.
Reprinted with permission of WorldNetDaily