Monday, January 04, 2010

Al-Qaeda/Hamas Connection?

The Expansion of Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Jihadi Groups in Gaza: Diplomatic Implications

  • In the West there is a growing trend to view Hamas as separate from al-Qaeda in order to open a political dialogue with Hamas, but is this view correct?
  • In its annual survey of terrorist threats to Israel during 2009, the Israel Security Agency noted the spread and buildup of "global jihadi" organizations in Gaza. In recent years a number of these jihadi groups have emerged that openly identify with al-Qaeda, such as Jaish al-Islam (the Army of Islam), Jaish al-Umma (the Army of the Nation), and Fatah al-Islam.
  • Hamas was founded in 1987 as the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama bin Laden was educated in Saudi Arabia by Muhammad Qutb of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Abdullah Azzam of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the architect of the 9/11 attacks, came out of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood still defines its goal as "a world Islamic state."
  • In February 2004, the U.S. designated Sheikh Abd al-Majid Zindani, president of Iman University in Yemen, as a "loyalist to Osama bin Laden." On March 20,
    2006, Zindani, who recruited volunteers for al-Qaeda, sponsored a major fundraising event for Hamas in Yemen. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, went to hear lectures on radical Islam at Iman University.
  • The al-Qaeda affiliate Jaysh al-Islam joined Hamas in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. This proves that Hamas and al-Qaeda affiliates have been involved in joint operations. In 2007, the Egyptian press reported that one of the heads of al-Qaeda in Egypt had escaped and sought sanctuary in Gaza. In May 2009, Egypt charged that another al-Qaeda-linked group was using Gaza for training terrorists for attacks in Egypt.

Operational Links between Hamas and Al-Qaeda

Practically, there have been noticeable operational links between Hamas and al-Qaeda. When two British Muslims of Pakistani descent came to Israel under orders from al-Qaeda and attacked "Mike's Place," a Tel Aviv bar, on April 30, 2003, they had previously filmed themselves wearing Hamas uniforms. After the 2005 Gaza disengagement, reports of Hamas-al-Qaeda coordination multiplied, particularly with the Hamas victory in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections. On March 20, 2006, Sheikh Abd al-Majid Zindani, who recruited volunteers for al-Qaeda, sponsored a major fundraising event for Hamas in Yemen. In February 2004, the U.S. Department of the Treasury had designated Zindani as a "loyalist to Osama bin Laden." He is president of Iman University, the notorious terrorist breeding ground on the outskirts of Yemen's capital, San'a, where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, went to hear lectures on radical Islam.

A whole assortment of al-Qaeda affiliate organizations has emerged in Gaza since 2005, the most prominent of which is Jaysh al-Islam, which joined Hamas in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. This proves that Hamas and al-Qaeda affiliates have been involved in joint operations. In 2007, the Egyptian press reported that one of the heads of al-Qaeda in Egypt had escaped and sought sanctuary in Gaza.10 In May 2009, Egypt charged that another al-Qaeda-linked group was using Gaza for training terrorists for attacks in Egypt. This group included Belgian, British and French Muslims.11 It is no wonder that Egypt has become more determined than ever before to block the smuggling tunnels between Egyptian Sinai and Gaza; not only has Israeli security been undermined by the tunnels but also the security of Egypt as well.

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