Hamas Trains Bomb Experts in Sudan

Hamas is continuing to train bomb-making experts, popularly known as "engineers." Most such training is conducted in Arab states.

The Shin Bet security service recently detained a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who is accused of undergoing such training in Sudan.

Israeli security officials believe that Hamas is currently trying to replace what it regards as martyrs, or persons who have been killed or arrested while on assignments ordered by the organization.

Muntasar Talab Salamah Frej, 20, from Gaza City, was arrested last August at Rafah, after a period of residence in Jordan and Egypt. An indictment submitted against him last week at an Israeli military court at the Erez Junction charges that Frej underwent military training outside Israel's borders, particularly in Sudan.

The indictment relays that Frej joined a Hamas-affiliated organization at the age of 15. When the current intifada erupted two years ago, he joined Hamas' military wing. Last June, the indictment charges, he underwent training in the use of firearms. Four other men participated in the training, led by senior Hamas operative Nidal Farhat, and conducted at the home of Hamas' spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Farhat, whose brother Muhammad carried out a terror strike at the Atzmonah settlement in which five persons were killed, proposed that Frej undergo Hamas sponsored training overseas. The goal was for him to gain expertise in explosives, so that he could train other Hamas men upon his return to the Gaza Strip. In exchange, Hamas promised to finance academic studies for Frej, the indictment claims. Frej originally traveled to Turkey, but began military training in Jordan; last March, he arrived in Sudan, and began advanced training in explosives. A plan to continue Frej's training in Syria was never carried out, the indictment adds.

A year ago the Shin Bet arrested several Hamas operatives who had undergone a similar training regime in Syria and Jordan. Some were engineering students enrolled at universities in Arab countries.