JERUSALEM – Israel (search) has arrested a Gaza-born Canadian citizen for allegedly working with the militant group Hamas (search) to plan attacks against Israeli Cabinet ministers during their trips to the United States and against North American Jewish officials.
Jamal Akkal, 23, was arrested Nov. 1 after he arrived from Canada to visit family in the Gaza Strip, according to a statement from the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (search), which oversees the Shin Bet security service.
Akkal's family has said he went to Gaza to get married. His remand was extended by 15 days on Friday.
Israel has denied Canadian media reports that Akkal has been abused during interrogation. Akkal's lawyer, Jamil al-Qhateb, has said that Hamas had approached his client to carry out attacks in North America, but Akkal never agreed.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has cautioned that Akkal is "not guilty until proven guilty" and said Akkal is receiving all Canadian consular services allowed him.
Akkal told Israeli interrogators that he had been recruited during a previous visit to the Gaza Strip by senior Hamas militant, Ahmed Wahabe, to help the organization carry out attacks in the United States, the press release said.
Akkal was asked to gather information on a senior Israeli official's visit to the United States and plan a sniper attack to assassinate him. Akkal also helped plan shooting or bombings attacks against members of the U.S. and Canadian Jewish communities, the statement said.
Wahabe allegedly told Akkal to raise funds among Muslim communities in Canada, ostensibly for families of Palestinian homicide bombers, but they would actually be used for the purchase of weapons and to finance the militant activities.
Wahabe trained Akkal in the Gaza Strip on how to use an M-16 gun and prepare bombs, the press release said.
Akkal was slated to attribute the attack to Al Qaeda, not Hamas, according to what he told interrogators, the statement said.