A senior member of Force 17 told WND in an exclusive interview Sunday that any US aid and weapons given to his security organization will be used to attack Jews and "fight Israeli occupation."
The man, Abu Yousuf, hinted new weapons provided by the US to Force 17 could be shared with the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terror organization, the declared "military wing" of Abbas' Fatah party.
Abu Yousuf, like many Force 17 members, is also openly a member of the Brigades.
"We will not use these weapons against our brothers in Hamas unless they try to attack (Abbas). The US is working with the Zionists to try to generate civil war in the Palestinian territories but that will not work. These weapons will put to use against the Israelis," said Abu Yousuf.
Abu Yousuf also hinted previous American assault rifles sent by the US to Force 17 in May were used in a spate of shooting attacks against Israeli civilians.
Rice this past Thursday met Abbas in the West Bank city of Jericho as part of a trip to the region with President Bush, who was in Jordan for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Abbas reportedly briefed Rice on his efforts to strengthen a cease fire that took hold last week in Gaza.
According to senior Palestinian officials who took part in the meeting, Rice told Abbas the US would fulfill an earlier pledge to bolster Force 17 with American training and with new weapons, including 6,000 assault rifles.
The US reportedly aims to enhance security forces associated with Abbas' Fatah party alongside the bolstering by the rival Hamas group of its security forces in Gaza and the West Bank.
Force 17 serves as Abbas' personal security detail and as de facto police units in the West Bank and Gaza. Many of its members also openly serve as gunmen in the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terror group. Hamas maintains a 6,000-strong militia in Gaza that has several times engaged in firefights with Fatah.
Hamas and Fatah have failed repeated attempts to create a national unity government. Hamas this weekend threw the unity talks into crisis by rejecting a proposal that would have seen Hamas relinquish control of the Palestinian government to a cabinet of independent candidates.
Hamas and Fatah in October engaged in heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip and West Bank after negotiations to establish a national unity government between the two appeared to have fallen through.
A senior Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told WND that Fatah security officials noted in those firefights Hamas members used weaponry more advanced than what was known to have been in the Hamas arsenal, including newer styles of assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. The official said Abbas requested more weapons from the US.
According to multiple reports, the US agreed to aid Force 17. The US considers Fatah "moderate," while it labels Hamas a terror group.
Last month, the New York Times reported the US proposed expanding Abbas' Force 17 from 3,500 men to 6,000 as part of a USD 26 million plan to strengthen the Palestinian leader.
The Associated Press, Haaretz and Israel's leading Yedioth Aharonoth daily reported new training facilities for Force 17 are slated to be set up in Jericho and in Gaza, at a cost of USD 2 million each, according to the US proposal.
The last known weapons transfer to Force 17 took place in May and reportedly consisted of 3,000 assault rifles and more than 1 million rounds of ammunition.
At first, the US, Israel and the PA denied the reports of the weapons transfer, but Olmert in June announced he had approved the shipment of US 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 (Abbas)," Olmert told reporters.
The shipment required Israeli consent to pass through checkpoints. It was delivered by a convoy protected by the Israel Defense Forces, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials involved in the transfer.
Force 17 officer Abu Yousuf told WND the latest planned US weapons transfer was meant to spark a Palestinian civil war and ensure Palestinian security forces are "friendly" to the West.
"We are aware that a civil war is the dream of the Zionists and the Americans, but it will not happen so quickly," said Abu Yousuf.
"The Americans see their situation in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and they know that a war against Iran is a matter of time, and they want to guarantee that in Palestine there will not be a regime who will be hostile to the US and will not endanger Israel."
Continued the Force 17 member: "They (Americans) hope that these arms will be used against our brothers in Hamas, but we ask Allah that our brothers are also aware of this issue and will not play into the hands of the Americans and the Israelis."
Abu Yousuf told WND in a previous interview the weapons sent by the US in May would be fired at Israelis.
"These weapons will not be used in an internal war but against Israelis," he said. "Force 17 is proud that we were the first to lead the Palestinian people during tough times such as resistance operations (against the Israeli army during large-scale operations in northern Samaria in 2002). We will also be the first to lead the Palestinians in the current struggle against Israeli occupation."
In June, Abbas appointed senior al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of Force 17. Damra, who was arrested by Israel last month, was on the Jewish state's most-wanted list of terrorists. He is accused of masterminding a string of attacks and of leading a terror cell based in Ramallah allegedly responsible for scores of shootings against Israelis.
Together with the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Brigades has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing inside Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed American teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis. The Brigades also has carried out scores of deadly shooting and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians in recent months.
Asked to confirm other Force 17 officers also are members of the Brigades, Abu Yousuf replied: "During our official service and during our job hours we are soldiers. What we do in our free time it is our business. Of course, as members of Fatah, some of us are members in the Brigades and we take part in the defense and protection of our people and in the fight against the Israeli occupation."
The State Department includes the Brigades on its official list of international terror organizations.
American weapons ambushed schoolgirls?
Sources close to the al-Aqsa Brigades told WND the American assault rifles transferred in May 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 ambushed a bus carrying Israeli school girls on a West Bank highway. The bus was armored. The school girls escaped unharmed.
Israel arrested two members of Force 17 in connection with the shootings. Abu Yousuf refused to confirm whether the American weapons were used in the spate of highway attacks, but he hinted the information was accurate.
"The fighters who were arrested by the Israeli army in relation to these attacks are Force 17 men, but I cannot confirm what weapons they used. 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