hamas funeral 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
A number of al-Qaida-affiliated groups on Thursday condemned Hamas as an apostate movement that serves the interests of Israel by cracking down on their supporters in the Gaza Strip.
The groups appealed to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, to issue public condemnations of Hamas, whose security forces last weekend killed and wounded dozens of fundamentalists belonging to Jund Ansar Allah in Rafah.
The leader of Jund Ansar Allah, Abdel Latid Moussa, was also killed in the confrontation with Hamas when he and some of his followers blew themselves up rather than surrender. The fierce clashes erupted shortly after Moussa declared the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip, accusing Hamas of transforming itself into a secular party.
A leaflet distributed by Jund Ansar Allah and four other radical groups described the events in Rafah as a "massacre" and accused Hamas of cold-bloodedly killing Moussa and many of his armed followers.
Describing Moussa as a shaheed (martyr), the statement said he and many Palestinians were killed by the bullets and rockets of Hamas militias.
"Hamas's actions serve the interest of the Jewish usurpers of Palestine and the Christians who are fighting Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Somalia," the statement charged, urging bin Laden and Zawahiri to come out in public against Hamas.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that in addition to Jund Ansar Allah, at least four similar groups continue to operate in the area: Army of the Nation, Tawheed and Jihad, Ansar Assuna and Army of Islam.
The sources said that these groups, which are all opposed to Hamas, are demanding the implementation of Islamic Shari'a laws in the Strip.
The Army of Islam was formerly the biggest al-Qaida-affiliated group. It was founded and headed by members of the notorious Dughmush clan headed by Mumtaz and Abu Muhammad al-Ansari.
But following a massive Hamas crackdown on the Army of Islam last year, many of its members fled to smaller groups scattered throughout the Gaza Strip.
Abu Hamzeh al-Maqdisi, leader of the Ansar Assuna (Companions of the Sunnis), announced on Thursday that his group was determined to pursue efforts to establish an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip despite the Hamas clampdown.
Maqdisi told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that he did not rule out cooperation between his group and al-Qaida to achieve this goal.
He said that the Army of Islam came under attack by Hamas following the kidnapping of BBC reporter Alan Johnston in March 2007.
Maqdisi said his group had no links with Hamas and did not recognize its rule in the Gaza Strip.
"Our ultimate goal is to spread Shari'a among our people," he said. "Also, our goal is to wage jihad against the Zionist enemy until the liberation of our homeland."
Although Maqdisi, who is wanted by Hamas, denied that his group was part of al-Qaida, he did not rule out the possibility of working with it in the future.
He also confirmed that many of his group's members had defected from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He denied that the al-Qaida-linked groups in the Gaza Strip were receiving money and weapons from Fatah leaders in the West Bank.