Mideast: Aid ship had 'two terrorists aboard'

Gaza City, 11 June (AKI) - The Turkish-owned ship, which was raided by the Israeli navy early last week, had onboard two senior terrorists posing as peace activists, the Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported on Friday. The two were identified as a senior Hamas fundraiser and a Syrian intelligence official who served as a liaison officer for Iranian intelligence in the Balkans, according to the daily's website.

Senior intelligence officials were enraged over the men's release and are now calling for a thorough investigation, the daily said.

Amin Abu-Rashid, 43, a Dutch national of Palestinian descent who lives in Rotterdam, was named as one of the men. He is nicknamed "Amin Abu-Ibrahim" by Hamas members.

Israeli intelligence considers him one of the leaders of the Palestinian movement's fundraising system and the chief Hamas fundraiser in Western Europe, the daily said.

He is alleged to have had close ties with Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the senior Hamas commander who was assassinated in Dubai in January.

According to intelligence material cited by the daily, his role in Hamas was to smuggle money to the organisation's groups in Gaza and particularly in the West Bank.

On the humanitarian aid flotilla, Abu-Rashid served as spokesperson and commander of the Palestinian-Hamas part of the "campaign to end the siege on Gaza".

In interviews he gave in January, he declared that he was planning to confront Israeli soldiers and was presented as "the leader of Palestinians who are European citizens" on the flotilla, the newspaper claimed.

Abu-Rashid was not hurt during the deadly navy takeover of the Marmara ship. He was arrested and held in a Beersheba facility for several days.

According to Serbian news agency FOCUS, another "peace activist" onboard the ship was Yasser Muhammad Sabag, a Syrian intelligence officer serving as the liaison officer between Damascus and Tehran's intelligence networks in the Balkans. Sabag has a dual citizenship from Syria and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he now lives.

"I don't know why Abu-Rashid was released," said a senior intelligence official.

"It might have been because they failed to identify him and did not know who they had caught, or because they know who he was and decided to release him in any case. I don’t know which option is worse."


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