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Hamas may have chemical weapons
CSIS report says terror group may be experimenting
Stewart Bell, with files from Anne Dawson, CanWest News Service
National Post, with files from CanWest News Service

The Palestinian terrorist group that allegedly recruited a Canadian to carry out attacks in North America may be developing chemical weapons, says a newly released Canadian intelligence report.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service report says the Hamas arsenal includes not only hand grenades, Kalashnikov rifles, rockets and explosive belts, but much more deadly weapons as well.

"There is also information to indicate that Hamas may be preparing sophisticated explosive charges for larger attacks, such as buildings. Hamas may also be experimenting with explosive charges to disperse chemical materials."

Reports surfaced two years ago that Hamas was developing chemical weapons. The Israeli military said a 23-page manual containing recipes for such chemical compounds as potassium cyanide had been published on a Hamas Internet site.

The June, 2002, CSIS report, Terrorist Group Profiler: Hamas, was obtained by the National Post yesterday under the Access to Information Act. A disclaimer notes CSIS cannot vouch for the authenticity of the information in the report, but it was prepared by the spy agency and was "intended for official use only."

The 14-page document was written before Israeli security officials arrested 23-year-old Palestinian-Canadian Jamal Akkal, who has allegedly confessed he was recruited and trained by Hamas to conduct bomb and sniper attacks in Canada and the United States.

The document paints Hamas as a radical organization devoted to martyrdom, propped up by an international network and willing to use increasingly destructive means in its campaign to oppose Western ideas and replace Israel with an Islamic state.

The CSIS report says the so-called Islamic resistance movement was formed in 1987, and in 1988 it declared its goals in a charter. The Hamas motto stipulates that "death for the sake of Allah is its most coveted desire," the report said.

Hamas "has escalated its suicide attacks" over the past three years, it says. It quotes Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the Hamas founder and spiritual leader, as saying the group "cannot absorb the growing number of young men who want to carry out martyrdom operations.

"An important reason that individuals agree to conduct suicide missions is the desire to become both national and religious martyrs. Suicide bombers are told that their sins will be forgiven and that they will go to heaven where 72 virgins await them."

Another reason is that Hamas "takes care of the martyr's family," the report says. Each family gets US$800 per month and before he was deposed, Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, was paying US$10,000 to US$25,000 to the families of dead terrorists.

Hamas gets part of its financial backing from Iran, which transfers US$3- million to US$18-million a year to Hamas, the report says. The Iranian intelligence service MOIS reportedly paid US$35-million to Hamas to finance terrorist attacks.

In 1998, Sheikh Yassin made a four-month tour of Muslim nations and netted US$60-million in donations. "Financial support is also received from the government of Saudi Arabia, as well as charities in France, Britain, Germany and North America."

Hamas has training camps in Iran, Lebanon and Sudan, the report adds. Syria also provides "safe houses and offices used for recruitment." Hamas offices are also located in Amman and Tehran, it says.

Mr. Akkal immigrated to Canada in 1999, but returned in October to find a bride. He was arrested on Nov. 1 as he was leaving Gaza to return home to Windsor, Ont.

Israeli authorities said he confessed to being a member of a new Hamas cell that was to attack Jews and Israeli officials in Canada and the United States. "Akkal's arrest prevented a terrorist attack," said a statement issued by the office of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister.

His lawyer said Mr. Akkal only signed the confession after he was interrogated without sleep for 20 days. He appears in court on Monday and will likely face charges before a military tribunal of conspiracy and military training.

The disclosure by Israeli officials has led to diplomatic tension between Israel and Canada, which accused the Israelis of making inappropriate comments about a Canadian detained abroad.

© National Post 2003

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