Government officials are circulating a document showing Hamas's links to Chechen terrorists in an attempt to influence Russian public opinion against President Vladimir Putin's overtures to Hamas.
The pamphlet, put out by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, an information project sponsored by an NGO set up in memory of fallen members of the Israeli intelligence community, opens by stating that "Hamas support for the Chechen separatists and their terrorist tactics did not prevent it from immediately accepting" Putin's recent invitation to visit Moscow.
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According to the document, Hamas "is completely hostile to the Russian regime in that it identifies with the Chechen separatists, regarding them as part of the global jihad, and supports them in their terrorist activities."
A government official said that the document was being circulated so that people "understand the real nature of Hamas - that Hamas has supported terrorism in other part of the world, and has supported a radical jihad agenda, not only against Israel, but also around the globe, specifically in Russia."
"We think that it would be a good thing if Russian citizens became aware of that," he said.
To support the claim of a Hamas-Chechen link, the document states that posters, CDs and movies supporting the Chechen terrorists have been found in Hamas offices. According to the document, Hamas has "even allowed the Chechen terrorists to use its Internet site, www.Palestine-info.net, to provide its suicide bombing attacks with religious Islamic sanction."
According to the pamphlet, "Hamas customarily distributes its anti-Russian incitement CDs (full of hate propaganda and incitement to acts of terrorism) in educational institutions in the PA-administered territories as part of the battle for the hearts and minds of the younger Palestinian generation."
The document said that the CDs, entitled "The Russian Hell," were distributed in 2003 and 2004 to the American University in Jenin, the Hebron University and the Hebron Orphan Asylum.
According to the document, Hamas has expressed admiration for Chechen terrorists in its posters and videos, while the Russian army "is blasted and its actions are referred to as 'terrorist activities against the Islamic population in Chechnya.'"
One poster pictured in the document shows a picture of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin next to those of Ibn al-Khattab, a Chechen leader killed in 2002, Osama bin Laden and Shamil Basayev, a Chechen warlord who claimed responsibility for the Beslan school massacre in September 2004.
Underneath the pictures are the words "Chechnya, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Kashmir, Palestine and Lebanon," as well as a quote attributed to a companion of Muhammad who said Islam would "continue to exist in those regions of the world where Muslims are a minority living in a hostile environment."
Russian officials traditionally bristle at attempts to compare Hamas with the Chechen terrorists, saying that while the international community recognizes Chechnya as an integral part of Russia, the world has never recognized the West Bank as part of Israel.