Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mahmud Abbas: Hamas brought Al-Qaida into Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (Abu-Mazin), in an interview with the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat, claims that Hamas has brought Al-Qaida into Gaza as an ally. The interview was conducted by Ghassan Shirbil, published on February 27 in Al-Hayat and translated into English by BBC Worldwide Monitoring [available by subscription]. A report of the interview can be found in the Jerusalem Post.
[Shirbil] You said on a previous occasion that there are indicators of an Al-Qa'idah presence in Gaza. Hamas has denied such a presence. What do you say today?

[Abbas] I believe that Al-Qa'idah is present in the Palestinian territories.

[Shirbil] Where?

[Abbas] In Gaza. And it is Hamas who brought in Al-Qa'idah and who facilitates its coming in and going out in ways that are known to the Hamas Movement.

[Shirbil] This is a serious accusation. Hamas says it is the barrier to the possibility of Al-Qa'idah infiltration into the Palestinian Territories.

[Abbas] Al-Qa'idah is present in Gaza, and I think they are allies.

[Shirbil] Are you saying that Hamas is an ally of Al-Qa'idah?

[Abbas] Yes, I believe that is the case. I firmly believe that Al-Qa'idah has a presence in the Palestinian territories and that presence has been facilitated by Hamas in Gaza in particular.



Back in November 2004, this space reported on Yossef Bodansky's allegation that Richard Reid's shoe bomb was the result of a network of cooperation between Iran, al-Qaeda and Hamas in Gaza ("An Axis of Terror: Chechen Rebels, Hamas and Al Qaeda"):
Reid's shoe bombs were based on Iranian-origin technology and were made of new type of high-explosives. Reid -- then an acknowledged bin Laden operative -- received his shoe-bombs in the Palestinian Jebalya camp in the Gaza Strip. At the time, he was a trainee-guest of Nabil Aqal, a senior commander of the Hamas' Izz al-Deen al-Qassim Brigades and a protege of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin. The key components of the bombs had been smuggled to Gaza from Lebanon via Egypt by then-Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat's ally and confidante, Jamal Sema Dana. The Hamas support for Reid a major deviation from Yassin's long-standing insistence that the Hamas cadres limit their operations to the Palestinian theater in order to contribute to international operations under the banner of a global jihadist entity. However, by the late 1990s, the Hamas needed foreign support from the global Islamist-jihadist movement and Yassin was willing to "pay" by increasing its direct involvement in the international jihad.



UPDATE: Intelligence Online (subscription) reported on May 12, 2006 of Al Qaeda's Infiltration into the Gaza Strip:
Even more worrisome, however, the Egyptian investigation and inquiries by Jordanian intelligence have revealed that Al Qaeda has begun to infiltrate Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip, crossing over from the Sinai desert. According to the Jordanians, an extremist wing of the Ezedeen al Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas that rejects the truce with Israel, has set up a new group linked to Al Qaeda. It is reportedly led by the boss of the Brigades, Mohammed Deif, while his right hand man is Jamal Abu Samhadan, chief of the Salaheddin Brigades cell in the Jabalia camp. An outpost of Al Qaeda is said to have also established itself at Nablus on the West Bank, with Diaeddin al Qodsi, an Afghanistan veteran, at its head.

UPDATE: More recent news of Mohammed Deif and Al Qaeda in Gaza from Intelligence Online, "How Hamas Organizes its Defenses," January 4, 2008:
Another sign that Hamas is girding itself for an Israeli attack was the return of Muhammad Daif, chief of the al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. Wounded in an Israeli assault on July 11, 2006 against the residence of Nabil Abu Silmiyya, Hamas chief in Gaza, Diaf spent 14 months under medical treatment in Cairo. However, he remains half paralysed. Immediately on his return he appointed a new commander of the al Qassam Brigades. He is Ahmed Nimr, the Hamas leader in the town of Khan Younes, where Daif himself was born.

Traditionally suspicious of international Jihadist movements of the Al Qaida type, Hamas has ended up by closing ranks with them in order to find militants willing to commit suicide bomb attacks against Israeli tanks.

Indeed, Hamas has given its blessings to the formation of the Army of Islam, a cell affiliated to Al Qaida and headed by Mumtaz Dormush. He is a former member of the Peoples' Resistance Committee, a small armed Palestinian group founded in 2000.

The Army of Islam was responsible for the kidnapping of BBC newsman Alan Johnston who was held for 114 days, and took part in capturing Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit. With a large stock of chlorine it acquired from Egyptian and Iraqi smugglers, Hamas and its affiliated organizations are reportedly now in a position to carry out toxic gas attacks.

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