new hights of lunacy

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    Nov. 10, 2004 22:19 | Updated Nov. 10, 2004 23:35
    Protest tags Abbas, Dahlan traitors

    Some 100 Fatah activists demonstrated outside the Mukata compound in Ramallah on Wednesday, chanting slogans against PLO Secretary-General Mahmoud Abbas and former security minister Muhammad Dahlan.

    Condemning Abbas and Dahlan as US "agents," the protesters called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's mysterious illness, implying that he may have been poisoned.

    One of the demonstrators fired into the air from a pistol as his friends chanted, "With our blood and our souls, we redeem Arafat."

    "Dahlan, hey, hey, you are an agent of the CIA," was another slogan the protesters shouted as they marched toward the main entrance to the Mukata compound.

    Invoking sura (chapter) 114 from the Koran, which states, "Say you, I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind from the evil of the sneaking whisperer," the young Fatah militants accused Abbas and Dahlan of conspiring to take over in Arafat's absence.

    "Say you, I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind from Dahlan and Abbas," the crowd shouted, using the rhyming words of "mankind" and "Abbas."

    One of the demonstration's leaders, who identified himself as Fadi, said the protest was aimed at sending a message to Abbas and Dahlan that the Palestinians won't allow them to succeed Arafat. "We came here to tell these Israeli and American puppets that the people are against them," he added.

    The protest is seen as a sign of mounting tensions inside the ruling Fatah faction. Last year, a similar group of protesters, some masked and armed with knives and swords, forced Abbas to resign as prime minister after storming a meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah attended by him and Dahlan.

    Then, the masked Fatah demonstrators were seen leaving the Mukata compound, prompting local journalists to say that they had been sent by Arafat's top aides. Then, too, the protesters accused Abbas and Dahlan of being CIA agents and called for their resignations.

    Fatah leaflets distributed in different parts of the West Bank in the past 24 hours called for giving imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti a position in the new Palestinian leadership. Signed by Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, they are seen as a warning to the old guard of the Fatah leadership not to ignore Barghouti and other young operatives.

    The leaflets called on Palestinians to "liquidate all those involved in the plot to poison Arafat, who are most likely Israeli and American agents."

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