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Fatah Gang Behind Kidnap of U.S, British Journalists

Rampant anarchy in the PA has spread to gangs of the ruling Fatah party, one of which was behind this week's broad daylight kidnapping of a British and American journalist.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 10/15/2005, 9:37 PM / Last Update: 10/14/2005, 2:54 PM

Armed gunmen abducted a Knight Ridder reporter and British photographer in Gaza on Wednesday and released them a few hours later. The kidnappers were members of the armed Black Panther breakaway faction of the ruling Fatah party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), according to the All News Headlines news site.

PA police chief Ala Hosni described the kidnappers as a "gang" representing the powerful al-Najjar family clan in Khan Yunis, Gaza. They were demanding jobs and promotions.

A Khan Yunis civilian was kidnapped on Thursday and held for a $140,000 ransom.

PA legislative official General Mahmoud Labadi admitted, "We really have a problem. We have uncontrolled elements, whether on the Fatah side or the Hamas side. I think those elements who were financed and supported before by President Arafat, and those supported by finances from abroad, by international Islamic [groups]. I think they pose a problem to the government. It is difficult to control them and disarm them."

The PA and Egypt continue to allow the flow of arms across the Rafiah border, according to Middle East Newsline. "It's no longer a massive flow," an Israeli official said. "But it's a steady flow and much greater than what it used to be during our presence along the border." Ammunition and weapon parts are smuggled almost nightly, sources said.

The anarchy once was blamed on Hamas terrorists, but PA reports this past week revealed that Fatah armed gangs, part of the ruling faction, are behind most of the kidnappings and vigilante violence. The PA also admitted that half those killed in fighting this year were attacked by rival terrorists and not by the IDF.

Gaza City's Al-Azhar University shut down on Wednesday after 20 armed Fatah party men beat the school's president and aides.

Anarchy in Samaria resulted in the death this past week of at least one Arab terrorist in a battle between rival Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade gangs near Jenin, south of Afula. The dead terrorist had been wanted by Israeli security forces.