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July 28, 2011 No.
718

Hamas's Gaza – Four Years Later; Chapter 6: Hamas's Relations with Islamic Jihad and Salafi-Jihadis

By: C. Jacob*

Introduction

Although Islamic Jihad, like Hamas, is a religious organization and has been Hamas's partner in carrying out attacks against Israel, Hamas occasionally finds itself on a collision course with it. Hamas has also clashed with the Salafi-jihadi groups in Gaza. At first it turned a blind eye to their activity, but when it realized they were destabilizing its rule, it did not hesitate to massacre their activists, who accuse it of abandoning the path of jihad and of failing to implement shari'a.

I. Hamas's Relations with Islamic Jihad

The tension between Hamas and Islamic Jihad usually emanates from the latter's refusal to completely halt its operations against Israel. A senior official of Islamic Jihad's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, condemned the Hamas government's internal security apparatus for its arrest of a group of Islamic Jihad operatives as they prepared for a mission against Israeli special forces; he claimed that the detainees had been treated dishonorably. He added: "There is no tahdiah [calm] between the resistance and Israel, because Israel enters Gaza territory night and day, and harms all elements of life within it."[1]

Some claimed that Islamic Jihad was coordinating with Hamas and honoring the tahdiah with Israel. Islamic Jihad deputy secretary-general Ziad Nakhala denied this, but noted that "[Islamic] Jihad made its own decision not to escalate the situation, so as not to launch a new war, and also in light of the economic crisis in the Strip. The restraint was self-imposed, and has nothing to do with any external factor."[2]

In a Friday sermon, Islamic Jihad official 'Abdallah Shami attacked the Hamas leaders for glorifying the resistance on the satellite channels while persecuting resistance fighters on the ground, and cruelly torturing them: "Hamas, which waved the slogan of reform and change, did nothing to actualize this slogan. Nothing interests it but posts and seats. When the Palestinian Authority called the missiles useless, Hamas raised a stink. Today, Hamas doesn't call the missiles useless, but [actually calls them] traitorous."[3]

On the other hand, Hamas and Islamic Jihad sometimes quarrel over the right to claim responsibility for attacks on Israeli forces – which is another factor in the tension between them. For example, in late March 2010, two IDF soldiers were killed in a clash with Gazan resistance forces. Hamas took responsibility for the attack, but later on an argument broke out between Hamas and Islamic Jihad over who had participated in the operation, with spokesmen from each side claiming responsibility for it. The argument developed into a brawl when Islamic Jihad operatives distributed sweets to celebrate the attack, which Hamas took as a provocation. Later, operatives from both organizations fired into the air in celebration of the operation's success.[4]

A further focus of tension between the two movements is the mosques in Gaza. Elaph.com wrote that following the Hamas takeover of Gaza mosques, some Islamic factions, including Islamic Jihad, had to establish alternative mosques. An Islamic Jihad leader, Sheikh Khader Habib, said: "We were forced to establish mosques and run them ourselves, though we do not keep any Muslim out, because some parties [a reference to Hamas] have monopolized the mosques, keeping us out of them and preventing us from continuing our Islamic preaching activity... The mosques that we built with our own hands were attacked by Hamas... which keeps everyone who disagrees with it from operating out of [these mosques]."[5] In August 2010, relations between the two organizations deteriorated even further, following clashes between their members that devolved into exchanges of fire.[6]

Only after the signing of the reconciliation agreement in May 2011 was there improvement in Hamas-Islamic Jihad relations, and it was reported that Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah helped resolve the disagreement between 'Abbas and Mash'al over matters of protocol at the reconciliation ceremony – including where each of the two leaders would sit and how lengthy their respective speeches would be.

II. Hamas's Relations with the Salafi-Jihadis

On the Salafi-Jihadi Groups

A large number of Salafi-jihadi groups are active in Gaza, some fairly large and well-known, others small and less known. Most of the groups bear names of religious significance. Some of them maintain an active presence online, while others can only rarely be found online; it is possible that some of the latter do not actually exist.

The following is a list of the groups, with some details about each:

The Main Groups

Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad

This organization was the first Gazan group to be officially recognized by 'Issam Barqawi, known as Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, regarded as the most prominent ideologue of the Salafi-jihadi movement and currently imprisoned in Jordan. The group is headed by Hisham Al-Sa'idani, also known as Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi, who is a member of the shari'a council of the leading Salafi website Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad.[7] In March 2011, he was arrested by Hamas after being wanted by the movement for several years. [8]

The organization's first communiqué was issued in August 2009, following the severe clash between Hamas and the Salafi group Jund Ansar Allah at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque in Rafah. Hamas regards Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad as one of the most dangerous Salafi groups, and in October 2010, it arrested many of its members, including its No. 2 man, Sheikh Fares Jodeh. The detainees revealed that the group had warehouses full of ammunition and missiles.[9] In April 2011, the arrest of its leader prompted the group to kidnap and murder Italian human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni (see details below).

Jund Ansar Allah

This group emerged in 2007. One of its activists, Mahmoud 'Abd Al-Ghani, was killed in 2008 in an Israeli strike, several days before the end of the tahdiah was announced.[10] The group made headlines in 2009 when it attempted an attack on Israeli forces using horses laden with explosives.[11] Its members accused Hamas of being responsible for the operation's failure. In August 2009, the group's leader, 'Abd Al-Latif Moussa, also known as Nour Al-Maqdisi, announced the establishment of an Islamic emirate in Gaza, thereby triggering the worst clash to date between Hamas and the Salafis: Hamas stormed the group's Ibn Taymiyya mosque in Rafah, killing dozens of the group's members, including Nour Al-Maqdisi himself and another senior operative, Khaled Banat, aka Abu 'Abdallah Al-Muhajir Al-Souri.[12]

Jaysh Al-Ummah

The organization first emerged in 2008, when its spokesman announced that its goal was to assassinate then-U.S. president George Bush; according to its members, it was founded several years previously. Its leader is Isma'il Hmeid, also known as Abu Hafs Al-Masri, and its spokesman is 'Abdallah Al-Ghazi. The former has been arrested by Hamas several times for holding training activities in the presence of Reuters photographers, for accusing Hamas of not implementing shari'a, and for smuggling an individual into the strip via the tunnels.[13]

Jaysh Al-Ummah fighters (Source: Hanein.info, October 1, 2010)

Jaysh Al-Islam

The group emerged in 2006 when it announced its involvement in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Its leader is Mumtaz Dughmush, also known as Abu Muhammad Al-Ansari, and another senior member is Abu 'Omar Al-Ansari. The group is also known for the 2007 kidnapping of British journalist Alan Johnston.[14] Dughmush, who was mentioned as a possible suspect in the assassination of PA General Moussa Arafat, was formerly a member of the Popular Resistance Committees, but left this organization as part of internal conflicts among its activists. Before joining the Committees, he was a member of the PA security apparatus in Gaza.[15]

In 2008, 11 members of Jaysh Al-Islam were killed, including Dughmush's brother, in intense clashes that broke out between this organization and Hamas, due to excessive independence on the part of Jaysh Al-Islam and its opposition to the arrest of a member of the Dughmush clan.[16]

In November 2010, four members of the organization, including Dughmush's aide, Muhammad Namnam, were killed by Israel for carrying out operations against Israelis in recent years and for planning attacks on Israelis in Sinai.[17]

The group's activities have apparently spread to Egypt. In January 2011, former Egyptian interior minister Habib Al-'Adli said that there was solid evidence that Jaysh Al-Islam had been behind the January 1, 2011 bombing of the Coptic church in Alexandria. The group responded by praising the bombing but denying any involvement in it.[18]

The Jaljalat

The Jaljalat groups were mostly founded by former members of Hamas's military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. The word jaljalat means "thundered" or "roared" in Arabic. Some think it is a reference to an Islamic poem by this name that urges the Muslims to wage jihad. A prominent member is Mahmoud Taleb, also known as Abu Mu'tasam Al-Maqdisi, formerly of the Al-Qassam special units, who was arrested by Hamas but escaped.[19] According to Islam researcher Adnan Abu 'Amer, "'Jaljalat' is a collective name in Gaza for groups of young religious people who declare that they belong to Salafi-jihadism, [sometimes under the name] Salafi-jihadism, sometimes Ansar Al-Sunna, and sometimes Ansar Jund Allah."[20] Mahmoud Taleb, on the other hand, said: "There is no such thing as Jaljalat. Some people called us by that name when we first became active, after they saw our communiqué on the martyred ['Izz Al-Qassam fighter] Hamdi Shubeir, which began with the poem 'Jaljalat' that calls for jihad and mobilization... Our comrades in the [group's] leadership have not yet chosen any special name for us. They are waiting for [us to carry out] a large-scale operation, [after which we will] swear loyalty to Sheikh Osama bin Laden and the [other prominent] sheikhs abroad, and only then will our name be announced."[21]

Ansar Al-Sunna

One of Ansar Al-Sunna's prominent members is Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, who accused Hamas of sabotaging the Salafis' attempt to unify their ranks. The group has taken responsibility for rifle attacks on Israeli forces and for small arms attacks against Israeli settlements, including an attack on a kibbutz near the Gaza border in which a foreign worker was killed.[22] One of the group's members, Jihad Hajila, was killed while attempting to bomb an Internet café in Gaza.[23]

Jama'at Suyouf Al-Haqq Al-Islamiyya

This group, headed by Abu Sahib Al-Maqdisi, emerged in 2006. Many believe it is connected to Jaysh Al-Islam.[24] It has staged many attacks on what it regards as symbols of permissiveness and licentiousness in Gaza, such as Internet cafés, stores selling music tapes, and women who flout the Islamic modesty code. The group threatened to behead women anchors on Palestinian TV who appeared on camera without a hijab, and also threatened the management of the Dunya Al-Watan website for "supporting the collaborators, sons of infidel secularists."[25]

Other Groups

There are additional groups that appear on the Internet, but only sporadically. There may be different names for the same group:

Kataib Suyouf Al-Haqq

Appeared after the Hamas attack on the Ibn Taymiyya mosque in 2009, and threatened to attack Hamas in retaliation.[26]

Suyouf Al-Haqq fi Ard Al-Ribat

In January 2007, this group claimed responsibility for bombing the offices of Al-Arabiya TV in Gaza, but later retracted the claim. In May 2007 it announced its intention to "purge" Gaza of Internet cafés, stores selling music tapes, and promiscuous women.[27]

Suyouf Al-Islam

In 2006, this group threatened to bomb Gaza churches in retaliation for the publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. At a later date, it issued a communiqué condemning immodest women and calling on all Palestinian women to observe the Islamic dress code. The organization also claimed responsibility for attacking a young Gaza woman with acid, and for bombing an Internet café, a pool hall, a pharmacy and a store selling mobile phones.[28]

Jaysh Al-Muminin – Al-Qaeda in Palestine

Claimed responsibility for a 2007 attack on an American school in Gaza.

Qaedat Al-Jihad fi Filastin

Claimed responsibility for an attack on the Israeli settlement of Neve Dekalim. It also claimed responsibility for a May 2006 assassination attempt against Palestinian General Intelligence Chief Tarek Abu Rajab.

Qaedat Al-Jihad Ard Al-Ribat

In January 2011, this group warned Hamas not to execute one of its members who had been sentenced to death for the murder of a Christian. The group also threatened to harm other Christians in Gaza.

Alwiyat Al-Jihad Al-Muqaddas

Claimed responsibility for the August 2006 kidnapping of two Fox News reporters, who were later released.

Fath Al-Islam

In 2007, 'Abbas's advisor Ahmad 'Abd Al-Rahman said that this Lebanese organization was present in Gaza, and accused Hamas of letting its members infiltrate the Strip.[29]

The Rise of the Salafi-Jihadis in Gaza

The 9/11 attacks in the U.S. and subsequent terror attacks in European capitals, and the advent of global jihad, created an opportune breeding ground for the emergence of extremist religious organizations in Gaza as well. The chaos that prevailed in Gaza in the last decade, which reached its height prior to the Hamas coup in Gaza in June 2007, allowed extremist Salafi elements – the most prominent of which was Jaysh Al-Islam – to begin operating openly. [30]

Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas's entry into the political arena, in the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections, were a catalyst for the activity of the Salafi groups. A commander of the Jund Ansar Allah organization, Sheikh Abu Hareth, said that "Hamas's participation in the elections and its entrance into a parliament of unbelievers was the spark that ignited the flame of the Salafi-jihadi idea, which began to emerge gradually and spread among many of the youth."[31]

Hamas's electoral win and its rise to power encouraged the Salafis to try to force an Islamic lifestyle on the people of Gaza, assuming that Hamas would not interfere, and might even cooperate. They began to carry out attacks on Gaza targets that they perceived to be symbols of the West, of permissiveness and of harming morality and modesty.

When Hamas arrived at an unofficial tahdiah with Israel following the Gaza war, and began to act to prevent the firing of rockets and mortars at Israel, the Salafi groups began increasingly to fill the vacuum in the armed struggle that Hamas had left, and to try to carry out attacks against Israel.

The Characteristics and Activities of the Salafi Groups

The Salafi groups are not a monolithic bloc. Most of their activists are Palestinian, but some are from other countries. Some groups are notable for their clan-based composition. For example, the Dughmush family is prominent in Jaysh Al-Islam. Other groups are dominated by former Hamas members (especially former members of Hamas's military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades), or by former members of other organizations.

One non-Palestinian activist is Abu 'Abdallah Al-Muhajir Al-Souri, a Syrian sabotage and explosives expert who came to Gaza in 2007 to train activists from Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades. Disagreements with the Hamas leadership, primarily over the issue of the tahdiah, prompted him, and other Al-Qassam members, to leave this organization and to join the Salafi-jihadis.[32]

PA Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash stated that the PA had ample information about non-Palestinian elements entering the Gaza Strip.[33]

Abu Hareth, a commander of Jund Ansar Allah, stated that "most Jaljalat members come from the Islamic organizations: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Ansar Brigades [the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees]. Seventy percent of them were previously [members of] the Al-Qassam Brigades and Hamas." He said that they were well trained and had excellent fighting skills, and that only a few of them had come from the secular movements.

According to Abu Hareth, "joining these groups is not easy, and their operatives undergo several types of training, both da'wa and military. They focus on aspects of da'wa and religion, because they are [already] well-trained militarily."[34]

With regard to the number of Salafi groups' activists and supporters, they can be estimated at several thousand. Abu Hareth said: "Eleven thousand members operate under the flag of the Salafi-jihadi groups."[35] Jaysh Al-Islam commander Abu Al-Baraa likewise said, in an interview with Al-Masri Al-Yawm, that the four groups which endorse Al-Qaeda's ideology (Jaysh Al-Islam, Jund Allah, Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad and Ansar Al-Sunna) have 11,000 members altogether.[36] Mahmoud Taleb stated that the number of members in his organization was about 7,000."[37]

The jihadi groups are not operating within a single framework. Jaljalat member Mahmoud Taleb stated: "We have connections with parties, movements, and small Islamic groups, and there has been an effort to unite them into a single group, particularly since Salafi-jihadi ideologue Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi called on the groups in Palestine and in Gaza to unite."[38] Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, of Ansar Al-Sunna, stated: "There have been attempts to unite the groups under the organization Jund Ansar Allah fi Aknaf Beit Al-Maqdis. In practice, this unification was not carried out; on the contrary, members of the Dughmush clan turned over Jund Ansar Allah members who were fleeing Hamas [persecution]."[39]

The Salafi-jihadis' activity focuses on both da'wa – propagating Islamic ideas in the mosques and in centers for recruiting supporters – and on violent operations, in order to impose their beliefs and worldview. Some of the groups took responsibility for attacks on targets that they claimed corrupt youth – such as Internet cafés, beauty shops and shops selling videos – as well as on Christian targets. Other activity by these groups includes attempts at operations against Israeli targets: firing missiles and kidnapping soldiers. The independent Palestinian news agency Maan stated that the first bombing of an Internet café, in 2006, was carried out by the group Suyouf Al-Haqq Al-Islamiyya. Political science lecturer Naji Shurab wrote, "The Salafis want to impose increasingly extremist norms on society, to the point where it approaches the Taliban model."[40]

Salafi Ideology Vs Hamas Ideology; Salafi Ties with Al-Qaeda

The Salafi-jihadis are part of the global jihad movement, and espouse Al-Qaeda's ideology.

One common denominator of the Salafis and Hamas is that both advocate armed resistance in order to liberate Palestine; however, Hamas does not reject the possibility of a tahdiah, which it regards as a chance for resting and regrouping, whereas the Salafi-jihadis, like Al-Qaeda, advocate unrelenting jihad.

Hamas and the Salafis also differ in their views on political activity. The Salafis are against engaging in politics (i.e. forming parties, participating in elections, and entering the parliament and government), whereas Hamas sees politics as a legitimate means to achieve its goals, and in fact rose to power through elections.

While both sides aim to establish a society based on Islamic principles, Hamas aims to achieve this goal gradually, while avoiding coercion that would alienate the public. The Salafi-jihadis, on the other hand, openly declare their goal of imposing shari'a law, immediately and fully.

Another difference is that Hamas's aspirations focus on Palestine, rather than on global jihad to spread Islam across the world. Like its mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas sees the restoration of the global Islamic Caliphate as a vision that will be realized at some unspecified time in the distant future, not as a realistic aspiration that will materialize in the foreseeable future. In contrast, the Salafi-jihadis view the goals of restoring the Caliphate and of subjecting the world to Islamic rule as the most urgent priority, to be achieved through military means. In fact, it holds that all military means – including WMDs – should be employed in order to topple the Arab regimes and to revive the historic Islamic Caliphate, which will then serve as a springboard for a military campaign to bring the entire world under Islamic rule.

The Salafi-jihadi groups do not reject harming Westerners, and some openly declare them to be legitimate targets. Hamas, on the other hand, avoids harming foreigners and Western representatives.

As for takfir (accusing other Muslims of heresy), the Salafis regard any Muslim who does not follow what they see as the right path as an apostate, and therefore as a legitimate target; Hamas, like the Muslim Brotherhood, is against harming Muslims, since it believes that only Allah can judge the quality of Muslims' faith. However, Hamas members have been criticized for accusing Fatah members of heresy.

Though the Salafi-jihadis espouse Al-Qaeda's ideology, most of their spokesmen have denied any actual ties to this organization. Jaysh Al-Islam commander Abu Al-Baraa claimed that there were no organizational ties between Al-Qaeda and the Salafi groups, only ideological ties.[41] Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, from Ansar Al-Sunna, said: "To this day, we have not sworn loyalty to any figure outside of Palestine, Islamic or otherwise... We currently have no connection to Al-Qaeda, but we may in the future."[42] In contrast, as mentioned above, Mahmoud Taleb said in 2009 that there was an intention to swear loyalty to Osama bin Laden.[43] Abu Hareth stated, "The jihadi groups have no real connection to Al-Qaeda, but their members have been influenced by the global organization's ideology, and by the jihad operations it carried out – most importantly, the Twin Towers [attack]." He considered Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri "scholars of the ummah," but did not deny that "some groups also have local sheikhs and scholars, whose advice and guidelines they heed, in addition to sheikhs abroad such as Abu Mahmoud Al-Maqdisi. Likewise, they rely on fatwas by [prominent 14th-century scholar] Ibn Taymiyya and his disciple Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, as well as of other, contemporary, scholars."[44]

Abu 'Abdallah Al-Ghazi, a spokesman for Jaysh Al-Ummah in Gaza, denied that his group had any organizational connection with Al-Qaeda, except for "minimal communications on a very few matters... Jaysh Al-Ummah aspires to establish an Islamic state, to arouse the [Islamic] ummah, to liberate Jerusalem and to adhere to the Sunna of the Prophet and to the guidelines of the imams and scholars, such as Ibn Taymiyya [and his disciple] Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya. [Abu Mus'ab] Al-Zarqawi's book The Second Generation of Al-Qaeda represents the vision of Jaysh Al-Ummah."[45] Outlining the group's main beliefs, Abu Hafs said that, even if Palestine is liberated, jihad will continue until secular democracy is replaced by shari'a rule, and that the Palestinian fighters form the spearhead of the battle for liberating the entire Muslim nation.[46]

On the Salafis' attitude towards the Jews and Israel, a Jaysh Al-Islam commander, Abu 'Omar Al-Ansari, said: "Anyone who signs a hudna [temporary ceasefire] with the Jews prior to the liberation of the [Muslim] holy places, the end of the occupation and the release of the prisoners – is a protector of the Jews and an ally of the Jews and the Christians... He is a traitor, hostile to the Muslims, and is acting to spread filth and licentiousness, unbelief, and the imbibing of alcohol."[47]

Abu Hareth stated: "The attitude of the Salafi-jihadi groups to foreigners in Gaza is not uniform. Some ban harming them, and even help them, as long as they do not harm the Muslims; others, such as Jaysh Al-Islam and Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, think that "the foreigners must be fought no matter what they are called, because they are the enemies of the faith and are working against the interests of the ummah. This explains the attempt by one group to attack the motorcade of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and of former British prime minister Tony Blair when they visited Gaza."[48]

Hamas's Attitude Towards the Salafis

Hamas Shifts From Ignoring the Salafis to Actively Fighting Them

Initially, Hamas ignored the emergence of Salafi groups. Perhaps it was pleased to let others achieve its goals both on the religious level (the Islamization of Gaza) and on the political/military level (the continued resistance activity against Israel). Moreover, at first it did not feel threatened by the Salafis, and even denied their existence. When PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas claimed that Al-Qaeda elements had infiltrated the Gaza Strip,[49] Hamas firmly denied this. In response to a report in the Israeli media on this issue, Hamas's prime minister in Gaza, Isma'il Haniya, stated, "There are no extremist organizations or groups on Gaza soil."[50]

Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan 'Abdallah Shalah, who resides in Damascus, warned against Salafis infiltrating the PA territories: "We have no problem with Salafism, as long as it adheres to the path of the correct Salafism. The problem is with the takfiri Salafis [i.e. those who accuse other Muslims of apostasy], and with the groups that seek to shift the battle into the heart of the ummah."[51]

As soon as it became evident that the Salafi groups were not cooperating with or obeying Hamas, and were carrying out operations that damaged Hamas's image worldwide, the latter did not hesitate to use violence against them. When Jaysh Al-Islam kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston, Hamas forced it to release him.[52] Later, in September 2008, Hamas arrested Jaysh Al-Ummah leader Abu Hafs, demonstrating that it would not let any group, even an Islamic one, undermine the stability of its rule. Following an attempt by Jund Ansar Allah's in June 2009 to perpetrate a large-scale attack against Israel using horses laden with explosives, as mentioned above – at a time when Hamas was striving towards a tahdiah after the Gaza war – Hamas began arresting the group's members.

The Violent Clash at the Ibn Taymiyya Mosque in Rafah

The change finally came when, on August 14, 2009, Jund Ansar Allah leader 'Abd Al-Latif Moussa proclaimed the establishment of an Islamic emirate. The announcement – made at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque in Rafah in the presence of armed guards in explosive vests (see image above) – came several days after Salafis announced their intent to declare the emirate, and after the collapse of attempts to mediate a reconciliation between Jund Ansar Allah and Hamas. One mediator, Al-Qassam Brigades activist Muhammad Shimali, was shot by the Salafis, leading Hamas to retaliate against Jund Ansar Allah members by staging the massacre at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque and damaging the mosque and Jund Ansar Allah leader Moussa's home. Twenty-nine people, most from the Salafi organization, including Moussa himself, were killed, along with several Hamas members.[53]

Jund Ansar Allah leader 'Abd Al-Latif Moussa declares the Islamic Emirate

(Source: Al-Quds, Jerusalem, August 15, 2009)

Columnists on a Hamas-affiliated website tried to justify the movement's actions. Ibrahim Al-Madhoun wrote: "What the Palestinians have been paying every day in blood and [loss of] lives cannot compare to the scope of the death and destruction [that await them in the future] if the chaos continues. The killing will affect everyone; the tribes will squabble; the death squads will grow and the attacks on celebrations and coffee shops will proliferate."[54] Another columnist, Muhammad Al-Rifi, defended Hamas, stating that the massacre at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque had actually been instigated by Jund Ansar Allah founder Khaled Banat, the explosives expert also known as Abu 'Abdallah Al-Muhajir Al-Souri: "Khaled Banat, whom Hamas brought from Syria to Gaza to train its members, took advantage of the opportunity to spread his distorted [Salafi] ideology among the Al-Qassam Brigades, to establish the Jund Ansar Allah group, to train armed units in the Gaza Strip and to equip them with weapons stores and hundreds of explosive belts... When he saw that conditions were ripe to spark civil war, he planned the regrettable Rafah events [i.e. the events leading to the massacre at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque]."[55]

Salafi Criticism of Hamas's Heavy-Handedness

Hamas was harshly criticized by many elements (the PA, the Salafis and editors of London Arabic dailies) for its handling of the crisis with the Salafis, for the bloodshed, and for damaging a holy site, that is, the Ibn Taymiyya mosque.

A report by human rights organizations on the Rafah events showed that the Hamas forces had perpetrated human rights abuses and murdered some of the wounded who were being taken away in ambulances. According to the report, Hamas arrested hundreds of members and supporters of Jund Ansar Allah, whose subsequent conditions of detention and state of health remained unknown. It was also reported that Hamas had fired on people indiscriminately, including with RPGs.[56]

'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, the editor of the London daily Al-Quds Al-'Arabi, stated: "Hamas may have succeeded in dealing a heavy blow to the Jund Ansar Allah organization and in killing its leader, 'Abd Al-Latif Moussa, after storming [Moussa's] southern Rafah mosque. But the price for this success was very dear, in terms of [Hamas's] image in the eyes of certain Islamic circles, in the Palestinian territories and outside them... Hamas has brainwashed thousands of Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank with the culture of martyrdom and the commandments of the Koran concerning it. It has established a gigantic army of martyrs, who vie with each other to be first in line to blow themselves up with explosive vests among Israelis... [Therefore,] it is natural that some of them are frustrated by the current hudna [temporary ceasefire] and seek out other jihad groups... to fulfill their wish for martyrdom."[57]

In response to a claim by Hamas that the PA was behind the Rafah events, PA Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash said: "These statements are ridiculous, idiotic... Everyone in Gaza knows that the extremism was sown by Hamas's coup – when it bore arms and killed Palestinian [civilians], security service personnel and opposition members. Hamas killed dozens of people in cold blood in the Al-Shaja'iyya, Al-Zeitoun, and Sabra neighborhoods of Rafah."[58]

The PLO also responded to the Rafah events: "Hamas is repeating the Somali and Afghan experiment in Gaza, enabling mosques to become political centers for spreading propaganda, extremism, enmity and incitement against anyone who thinks differently than it – including calls for murder. The PLO Executive Committee condemns the murder and destruction by Hamas and by undesirable gangs of foreigners... that Hamas established and [brought into Gaza, by] opening the gates and tunnels so that they could infiltrate the Strip."[59]

Journalist Mustafa Ibrahim wrote: "The people in the Gaza Strip are still in shock, wondering why the dispute [between Hamas and Jund Ansar Allah] was resolved in this manner. [They wonder] why Hamas kept silent for all this time [instead of] trying to negotiate with that group, and kept saying that groups of this kind were under control – which ultimately turned out to be untrue. Hamas is responsible, because in the past, it arrested several [members of these groups] for carrying out bombings, but released them without pressing charges. [Furthermore,] to date, Hamas has not decided whether it is an Islamic government and whether it will implement shari'a [or not]."[60]

Hamas Unsuccessful at Hiding Its Fear of the Salafi Threat

Several months after the Rafah events, Hamas tried to give the impression of business as usual. Interior Minister Fathi Hammad delivered a reassuring message: "We do not in any way feel threatened by the Salafi stream... There are no fears about the Salafi-jihadis in Gaza. Hamas security elements have eliminated all chaotic phenomena, and are in control of the situation."[61]

However, Hamas's concern over the Salafi problem had not abated. It sent Egypt a message via senior Hamas official in Gaza Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, saying that "Hamas fears the spread of groups that adopt the ideology of Al-Qaeda in the Gaza strip, and is keeping track of their movements."[62] At the same time, Hamas established a committee of mental health professionals to examine the extent of the Jaljalat influence on its members. Also, Hamas's investigations director for northern Gaza, Mustafa Al-Rozina, was arrested, as were others who Hamas claimed "planned to expand Jaljalat recruitment among the Hamas militias."[63]

Hamas's fear of the Salafis was revealed in a document sent by Hamas members in Gaza to Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al in Damascus, demanding that "Salafi-jihadism be uprooted from Gaza, because the activity to contain them via reconciliation has failed." The document continued, "Because of the danger they pose, an extensive plan must be instituted that will lead to their elimination, even at a high cost in blood. Restraint will lead to much greater [bloodshed]."[64]

The Salafis' Stand on Hamas

The Salafi groups complained about Hamas's persecution and torture of their members in Gaza, but their spokesmen clarified that they would not break, but would continue on their path. Some of the groups used threatening language, promising to avenge their members' death.

The Jaysh Al-Ummah group criticized Hamas: "Hamas is not an Islamic movement, because it has linked arms with the Zoroastrians [a reference to Hamas's connections to Iran], in order to wage all-out war against those who are fighting in the name of Allah. It should change its name from 'the Islamic Resistance Movement' to 'the Movement of Resistance to Islam'... We will not remain silent in the face of these deeds. We will not [agree to] a ceasefire with the unbelievers who murder innocent Muslims."[65]

An announcement released by the group stated: "We warn the unbeliever Hamas leadership and the apparatuses of darkness against continuing to persecute our members. On the assumption that the murderer [always] returns to the scene of the crime, we warn them, particularly [Prime Minister] Isma'il Haniya, to stay away from the Ibn Taymiyya mosque."[66]

Members of the Kataib Al-Tawhid group also used threatening language: "We will not stop targeting prominent Hamas figures who have deviated from the righteous path and have taken crooked paths."[67]

Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, of Ansar Al-Sunnah, stated that Hamas's accusation that the Salafis were collaborating with the PA was groundless: "These accusations... are aimed at [inciting] public opinion [against the Salafis] via the Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood media, and at sullying the image and the good name of the fighters who are not neglecting [the duty] of striking at the occupation everywhere, while Hamas is seeking a tahdiah [ceasefire]... How is it possible to support governments that maintain friendly relations with the Jews and Christians and welcome them on Palestinian soil?"[68]

Mahmoud Taleb, of Ansar Al-Sunna, accused Hamas of arresting Salafis and seizing their weapons when they returned from jihad missions.[69]

Jund Ansar Allah commander Abu Hareth clarified that the Salafi groups had taken harsh blows: "The Hamas security apparatuses are taking intensive action against the [Salafi] groups, persecuting them and arresting them for fear that they will spread the Salafi idea among the youth – particularly the [young people] of Hamas. The Salafi idea exists and continues, despite the persecution."[70]

Referring to an incident in which Ansar Al-Sunna planted a bomb near the home of Hamas official Marwan Abu Ras, Mahmoud Taleb wrote: "The incident occurred at a time of serious conflicts between us and the [Hamas] internal security apparatus... We wanted to convey a message that they should stop accusing us of collaborating [with the Israeli Mossad]... We weren't trying to assassinate [Abu Ras], as was first claimed..."[71]

The Salafis Renew Their Activities

Indeed, after a short hiatus, during which the Salafis disappeared from view, they again resumed operations. On February 9, 2010, Hamas security apparatuses apprehended Ansar Al-Sunna member Mahmoud Taleb on suspicion of being behind several bombings in Gaza, in coffee shops and public places.[72]

In March 2010, it was reported that fundamentalists had set off three bombs in the Shati refugee camp, near the guarded home of Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya. Sources said that the bombs were aimed at sending a message to Haniya so that he would order a halt to the arrests of Salafis.[73] Gaza Interior Minister Ihab Al-Ghasin downplayed the importance of the incidents, saying, "The bombs were primitive, and security forces arrested the individual who made them; he is not connected to any group."[74]

In May 2010, dozens of anonymous masked individuals set fire to an UNRWA summer camp, leaving behind a letter protesting against the mixed-gender activity there. It is not certain that Salafis were behind the arson, but it may have been their doing, as was an attempt to break up a party at an UNRWA school.[75]

As Freedom Flotilla approaches Gaza, the UNRWA summer camp, which is on fire, calls for help

(Source: Al-Quds, Jerusalem, May 24, 2010)

Salafi leader Abu Al-Bara Al-Masri said that Hamas had arrested activists from his organization for firing rockets at Israeli settlements, tortured them brutally, and warned that if the organization continued to fire rockets and harm the occupation, the detainees would not be released and would also be fined NIS 8,000.[76]

Concurrently with their activity inside Gaza, members of the Salafi groups fired rockets into Israel. In January 2011, a member of the Shumoukh Al-Islam jihadi forum reported that according to an internal document of the Hamas government in Gaza's security forces, Hamas had established a special 400-man force aimed at preventing the firing of rockets at Israel. He said that the force had received orders to search homes suspected of storing rockets for Salafi organizations, and to act with determination against anyone who endangered the calm with Israel.[77]

The Murder of Italian Activist Vittorio Arrigoni

One of the most serious incidents involving the Salafis was the abduction and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni in April 2011. Following his abduction, a Salafi group calling itself "The
Sahabi Al-Humam Muhammad bin Muslima Brigades" admitted it was holding him, and threatened to kill him unless Hamas released all the Salafi-jihadi prisoners within 30 hours, starting with Hisham Sa'idani (aka Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi, head of the Salafi organization Jama'at Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad). Apparently, Hamas's capture of some of the abductors caused the group to execute Arrigoni even before the ultimatum expired. The murder sparked intense criticism in Palestinian society, on both moral and practical grounds, because Arrigoni had been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause and a critic of Israel, and his murder did grave damage to the Palestinian image worldwide.

Salafi groups, including Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, hastened to distance themselves from the murder. Jaysh Al-Islam member Abu Al-Baraa claimed that members of Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad had carried out the operation without the knowledge of their superiors.[78] Prominent Salafi-jihadi leader Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir offered a similar opinion, saying that the murderers were individuals close to Sheikh Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi, but were not operating on behalf of any group: "This operation was carried out by individuals, and no group is responsible for it."[79]

Hamas carried out sweeping arrests among the Salafi-jihadi groups, and detained two of those who were involved in the abduction, hinting that they had collaborated with Israel. A website affiliated with Hamas reported, citing security sources, that "the instructions for the murder had reached one of the suspects via the Internet."[80]

Hamas also reported that three additional individuals were wanted for interrogation in this case, one of them a Jordanian national. Hamas shut down the tunnels to prevent the Jordanian from escaping, and, three days later, it surrounded the house where the three were staying. Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad leader Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi, as well as the suspects' family members, were brought over to try to persuade the three – 'Abd Al-Rahman Barizat,[81] Bilal Al-'Umri, and Muhammad Al-Sulfiti – to surrender, but without success. According to Hamas, Barizat threw a hand grenade at his two comrades, killing Al-'Umri and wounding Sulfiti, and then shot himself.[82] According to the PA news agency WAFA, and according to eyewitness reports, Barizat and Al-'Umri were killed by the Hamas forces that surrounded the building.[83] Barizat's father accused Hamas of killing his son, saying that as a devout Muslim, 'Abd Al-Rahman would never commit suicide.[84]

a) PA Officials Blame Israel, Hamas, Salafi-Jihadis

Some PA spokesmen blamed Israel for the murder. Former PA ambassador to Yemen Yahya Rabbah, who writes for Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, also pointed an accusing finger at Israel, saying that since the Palestinians had no reason to kill Arrigoni, the murderer must be someone else, who is "an enemy of the Palestinian national enterprise."[85]

Another Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist, 'Adel 'Abd Al-Rahman, suggested that Israel had Arrigoni killed in order to tarnish the Palestinians' image in the world and thus sabotage their efforts to gain international recognition for an independent state. The murder, he said, "was perpetrated by a hired agent serving the occupation state and the Israeli aggression." [86]

Other PA officials and columnists focused their blame on the Salafi-jihadi groups, but also blamed Hamas for allowing them to thrive in Gaza. Former PA minister Ziyad Abu Ziyad said, before the identity of the killers became known, that the murder was either the work of extremist Islamic groups striving to establish an Islamic emirate in Gaza, or else the work of Israel. Referring to the latter possibility, he said: "The murders of Juliano Mer[87] and Arrigoni are part of a conspiracy to tarnish the image of our fighting people and to depict [us] as violating the code of human, civilized and moral behavior, or as people who do not have the minimal ability to be part of human society. That is the essence of the Zionist propaganda against us."[88]

In another article, published one week later, after the identity of the murderers became known, Ziyad Abu Ziyad accused Hamas of letting the Salafis into Gaza and then denying their presence there: "We know that in Zarqa, [Jordan], there are centers of extremist Salafis, which produced [former commander of Al-Qaeda in Iraq] Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi and many others [like him]. Recently, we saw members of these [Salafi] groups attacking Jordanian police officers with cold weapons, and the portraits of some of them appeared on the front pages of our local newspapers. Did Gaza have to import these groups from Zarqa and elsewhere?... Will Gaza become [another] Afghanistan, welcoming jihadis from the four corners of the earth?... Hamas has frequently denied any presence of Al-Qaeda in Gaza, and has reacted with force to [some] Salafi actions, as in the case of the Rafah mosque or the despicable murder of Arrigoni. But Hamas's denials cannot change the fact that Gaza is absorbing these Salafi extremists. There is no need to wage bloody battles against them, but only to close off the route through which they enter Gaza without difficulty."[89]

PA Information Ministry official Hani Al-Masri wrote: "Whether [the murders] were Palestinian acts that served the Palestinians' enemies, or were part of an [Israeli] conspiracy, they are black marks on the record of the Palestinian struggle and cause. They were not legitimate acts, even if their planners and perpetrators cloak themselves in a religious, national or ideological guise in order to justify their cold-blooded murder aimed at achieving political goals... If someone murders in the name of religion, it is not religion that is to blame. Islam is innocent of any crime perpetrated against someone [like Arrigoni], who trusted the Palestinians and was their guest... Those who planted the ideas of extremism, takfir, exclusion and accusations of treason, and mixed religion, politics and state [i.e. Hamas], are partly responsible for what happened."[90]

Dr. Ibrahim Abrash rejected the claim that Israel alone was to blame for the murders, saying: "It is not enough to point an accusing finger at Israel as the party that benefits from Vittorio's assassination, because Gaza has become an environment of extremism and religious isolationism that allows [Salafi-jihadi] groups to murder in the name of religion and to issue fatwas forbidding or permitting whatever they wish."[91]

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist Muwaffaq Matar wrote that the murderers of Arrigoni had violated Palestinian laws, values and norms. He held Hamas partly responsible: "We must not forget that it is Hamas's takeover of Gaza that created the necessary climate for the [development] of this hothouse of terrorism... We must not discount the possibility that [Hamas] is responsible for terrorist cells that infiltrated [Gaza] through the tunnels or popped up like mushrooms in Gaza's jungle of armed [militias]."[92]

Former PA minister for prisoners' affairs Ashraf 'Ajrami said that Hamas's attempt to shrug off responsibility and blame the murder on the Salafis alone was an insult to the public's intelligence, because Hamas sponsored the violent Gazan groups, and some even carried out crimes on Hamas's behalf. He said: "A large number of culture centers, coffee shops, places of entertainment, civil organizations and NGOs have been attacked by Hamas, directly or by means of subcontractors working on its behalf."[93]

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist Dr. Osama Al-Fara wrote: "The religious extremism has never targeted the enemy; rather, its arrows have harmed the spirit and tolerance of Islam. The actions of its proponents are largely responsible for the fact that the West labels as a terrorist anyone who embraces Islam as a faith and a way of life."[94]

b) Hamas: The Salafi-Jihadis Must Be Dealt With; Israel Is to Blame for the Murder

Hamas spokesmen likewise blamed the Salafi-jihadis, describing their actions as "terrorism" and calling for them to be dealt with. A union of Hamas sheikhs and religious scholars in Gaza issued a fatwa forbidding to murder members of other faiths, and called upon Hamas to "strike with an iron fist anyone who disregards [the sanctity of] human life in such a despicable and barbaric fashion."[95]

At the same time, Hamas spokesmen claimed that Israel was involved in Arrigoni's murder. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said that Israel had arranged the murder in order to sabotage the next freedom flotillas: "It is inconceivable that this crime was committed without reason and without any connection to the occupation's efforts to deal with the processions and flotillas of solidarity with the Palestinian people. The occupation is exploiting the murder in an ugly way."[96]

A columnist on a Hamas-affiliated website, Salah Hamida, wrote that Israel had carried out the murders of Arrigoni and Mer with the help of Palestinian collaborators: "Many [Palestinian] youths fall victim to people who collaborate with the enemy's intelligence [apparatuses], and who convince them to form cells that call themselves Salafi-jihadi [but actually] serve the goals of the [Israeli intelligence] apparatuses, while believing they are serving Islam... These criminals [i.e. the collaborators] must be pursued and deterred, as an example to others. We must take diligent steps to remove them and their deviant ideology from society, without waiting for them to commit more crimes. They have no connection to the real Salafiyya, and they are not jihad fighters. Does a jihad fighter who follows the Salafi teachings murder an ally [like Arrigoni]?"[97]

Another columnist on the same website, Ibrahim Hamami, was even harsher in his criticism of the Salafis. He fiercely denounced the murder of an activist who had come to Gaza to help the Palestinians, saying that the murders "are not human beings and do not have an ounce of human feeling." He added that "it is the same whether [the Salafis] perpetrated this [particular] crime or were framed for it, because their past actions, their deviant ideology, and their warped logic do not leave room for any doubt [as to their true character]. They bring destruction and death upon the Muslims... They are not Salafis but villains."[98]

Yet another columnist close to Hamas, 'Issam Shaour, accused the Salafis of hypocrisy, because they condemned Arrigoni's murder yet continue to incite against Hamas.[99]

Columnist Mustafa Al-Sawwaf, also affiliated with Hamas, wrote: "The crime against Arrigoni was an act of terrorism. Terrorism has no religion and no homeland, and those who killed Arrigoni might also hurt others."[100]

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), April 13, 2010.

[2] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), April 18, 2010.

[3] Alaahd.com, April 16, 2010.

[4] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 28, 2010.

[5] Elaph.com, May 16, 2010.

[6] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 9, 2010.

[7] Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi was born in 1969 in Cairo to a family of immigrants from Gaza. He became familiar with Salafi-jihadi Islam, and with the movement's theoreticians, at an early age, and after studying shari'a he eventually became one of the movement's ideologues. Following his marriage, he left Egypt for Jordan, where he met Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, considered to be the mentor of former Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi. After expanding his knowledge of Salafi-jihadism, he went to Iraq and joined the ranks of Al-Qaeda, just as the U.S. was beginning its campaign against Al-Qaeda in this country. At some point he apparently returned to Egypt, where he was pursued by the authorities, who suspected him of involvement in attacks on tourist targets in late 2004, and pressured his family to turn him in. In January 2008 he managed to enter Gaza, along with thousands of other Palestinians, when the border was breached at Al-Arish. In Gaza he tried to unite the various Salafi groups, but was unsuccessful and eventually founded his own group, Jama'at Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad. Hamas placed him, like many other Salafis, on its wanted list for undermining security in Gaza. Paltoday.ps, March 15, 2011. See also MEMRI JTTM report: http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/blog_personal.htm?id=4825¶m=GJN.

[8] Paltoday.ps, March 4, 2011.

[9] Kofiapress.com, October 23, 2010.

[10] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), December 23, 2010.

[11] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 8, 2009.

[12] Alarabiya.net, August 15, 2009.

[13] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), September 2, 5, 2008; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 2, 2008.

[14] Aqsaa.com, July 7, 2006; Alarabiyya.net, May 9, 2007.

[15] Alzaytouna.net, September 23, 2007.

[16] Palvoice.com, September 16, 2008.

[17] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), November 4, 2010.

[18]Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), January 24, 2011.

[19]Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), September 7, 2009.

[20]Paltoday.com, August 4, 2009.

[21]Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[22] Alghad.com, March 18, 2010.

[23] Palvoice.com, July 26, 2008.

[24] Alzaytouna.net, September 23, 2007.

[25] Alwatanvoice.com, June 12, 2007.

[26] Alaahd.com, August 16, 2009.

[27] Alhewar.org, August 24, 2009.

[28] Alhewar.org, August 24, 2009.

[29] Alarabiya.net, December 26, 2007.

[30] Salafis are divided over the question of which was the first Salafi-jihadi group. One Ansar Al-Sunna leader, Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, stated that the first group was Jaysh Al-Islam, which in 2005 participated in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in Operation Fading Illusion. Later, Al-Maqdisi explained, when Hamas ran for election and the closure on Gaza tightened, more groups emerged: Jund Ansar Allah, Ansar Al-Sunna, Jaysh Al-Ummah, and the Tawhid Wal-Jihad group. (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 20, 2010). In contrast, Abu Hareth, a Salafi group leader, stated: "The real emergence of the Salafis was in 2001, with the first attack by [the group] Jund Allah..." He added: "Some of the groups that began to emerge in central and southern Gaza have multiple names, such as Suyouf Al-Haqq Al-Islamiyya and Jaysh Al-Ummah..." (Maannews.net, April 19, 2009). A Jaysh Al-Islam commander, Abu Al-Baraa, told the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm that the Gazan Salafi groups began their clandestine activity in the 1990s. He said that the first group was Jund Allah, which was followed by Jaysh Al-Islam, Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, and Ansar Al-Sunna. Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 3, 2011.

[31] Maannews.net, April 19, 2010. Similar statements were made by Mahmoud Taleb, also known as Abu Mu'tasam Al-Maqdisi, who quit the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and joined one of the Jaljalat (Salafi organizations). Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2010.

[32] Paltoday.com, August 20, 2009; Palvoice.com, August 17, 2009.

[33] Alaahd.com, August 15, 2009.

[34] Maannews.net, April 19, 2010

[35] Maannews.net, April 19, 2010.

[36] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 3, 2011.

[37] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[38] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[39] Paltoday.com, August 15, 2009.

[40] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 17, 2009.

[41] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 3, 2011.

[42] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 20, 2009.

[43] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 6, 2009.

[44] Maannews.net, April 19, 2010.

[45] Al-Hayat (London), April 11, 2010.

[46] Alghad.com, February 16, 2008.

[47] Maannews.net, April 19, 2010.

[48] Maannews.net, April 19, 2010.

[49] Alarabiya.net, February 27, 2008.

[50] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), August 15, 2009.

[51] Amad.ps, March 25, 2010.

[52] BBC journalist Alan Johnston was kidnapped in March 2007 by Jaysh Al-Islam while working in Gaza, and was released in July of that year.

[53] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 16, 2009; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 22, 2009.

[54] Palestine-info.info, August 18, 2009.

[55] Felesteen.ps, August 22, 2009.

[56] All4syria.info, August 21, 2009.

[57] Paltoday.com, August 17, 2009.

[58] Alaahd.com, August 15, 2009.

[59] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 20, 2009.

[60] Paltoday.com, August 20, 2009.

[61] Paltoday.com, March 4, 2010.

[62] Al-Jarida (Kuwait), March 7, 2010.

[63] Kofiapress.com, April 8, 2010.

[64] Al-Jazair News (Algeria), April 6, 2010; Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), April 8, 2010.

[65] Alaahd.com, August 19, 2009.

[66] Alaahd.com, August 19, 2009.

[67] Paltoday.com, February 16, 2010.

[68] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 20, 2009.

[69] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[70] Maannews.net, April 19, 2010.

[71] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[72] Palestine-info.info, February 20, 2010

[73] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 3, 2010.

[74] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 3, 2010.

[75] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 24, 2010.

[76] Paltoday.com, February 27, 2010.

[77] Shumoukh Al-Islam, January 20, 2011.

[78] Al-Hayat (London), April 17, 2011.

[79] Paltoday.ps, April 15, 2011.

[80] Palestine-info.info, April 16, 2011.

[81] 'Abd Al-Rahman Barizat's brother, Mu'adh, was convicted in 2006 in Jordan of planning an attack on a U.S. military base, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor. Their father said that 'Abd Al-Rahman had gone to Gaza to study Islamic shari'a, and that he had not known his son had joined an extremist group. Al-Quds (Jerusalem), April 20, 2011.

[82] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 20, 2011.

[83] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), April 19, 2011.

[84] Palpress.ps, April 20, 2011.

[85] Palvoice.com, April 16, 2011.

[86] Palvoice.com, April 16, 2011.

[87] Actor Juliano Mer-Khamis, the son of an Israeli mother and a Palestinian father, was murdered in Jenin on April 4, 2011.

[88] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), April 17, 2011.

[89] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), April 24, 2011.

[90] Maannews.net, April 19, 2011.

[91] Amad.ps, April 19, 2011.

[92] Palvoice.com, April 16, 2011.

[93] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), April 20, 2011.

[94] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 16, 2011.

[95] Palpress.co.uk, April 17, 2011.

[96] Palestine-info.info, April 15, 2011.

[97] Palestine-info.info, April 16, 2011.

[98] Palestine-info.info, April 16, 2011.

[99] Palestine-info.info, April 18, 2011.

[100] Felesteen.ps, April 19, 2011.