PA Security Questions Fatah Strongman Dahlan for Attempted Coup

Fatah activists were recently investigated on suspicion they had been recruited by Dahlan to form an armed militia to overthrow Abbas.

Palestinian Authority security forces questioned on Sunday Fatah Central Committee member Mohammed Dahlan over a recent spat with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Dahlan was questioned regarding allegations that he attempted to overthrow Abbas from heading the PA, just shortly after the security forces questioned Fatah activists on suspicion they had been recruited by him to form an armed militia which Dahlan intended to command.

Abbas and Dahlan (AP)

The suspects were summoned for questioning about their ties to Dahlan and whether they received instructions or funds from him in connection with the purchase of weapons. They were then released.

According to Fatah officials, Dahlan was stripped on his Fatah membership, yet Dahlan's associates rejected the claims.

According to Dahlan's associates he initiated the meeting with the security forces.

Dahlan also rejected the claims that he had been forced to leave the West Bank.

Last week, reports claimed that the Fatah faction banned Dahlan from party meetings.

Prior to the ban, Abbas had ordered security guards to be removed from Dahlan's office and house in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Since then, Dahlan has spent more time abroad.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has recently taken action against Dahlan as part of an effort to reduce his standing, after the latter expressed harsh criticism of the Palestinian president. Among the steps taken against Dahlan include the removal of the security detail at his home and office and the closure of the television station he owns, which was due to go on air next month.

Dahlan associates - including Yusef Issa Yakub, who until recently served as the deputy to the commander of the PA's Preventative Security Force - have also been removed from their positions.

Considered until recently to be one of the strongest figures in Fatah, Dahlan, 49, lives in both Ramallah and Cairo. Many in the movement, however, attributed the failure to head off the Hamas takeover of Gaza to Dahlan. He created enemies not only within his organization, but also in Hamas, for moving against the Islamic group in the 1990s and in the months prior to its takeover of the Strip.

Over the past year, Fatah leadership, including Abbas himself, received increasing numbers of accounts of Dahlan voicing open criticism of the Palestinian president. About two months ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Dahlan was part of a group that intended to have Abbas replaced by Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.