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(photo credit: AP [file])
A group calling itself al-Qaida in Palestine posted a Web video Wednesday denouncing those who "work in the service of the Jews."
The 5-minute video contains previously-aired clips of Osama bin Laden and slain al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as well as footage of a masked man sitting alongside an automatic weapon and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
"My speech is directed against... those who announce blasphemy against Islam and who are allied with enemies of God and religion, and work in the service of the Jews and the Christians," the man said.
It was unclear how large or sophisticated the group was, or whether it was indeed linked to al-Qaida. It has never claimed responsibility for any attacks.
A senior Palestinian security official in Gaza said he had never heard of Abu Hafs and could not confirm or deny the existence of this group.
The video surfaced as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
The man on the video identifies himself as Abu Hafs, a field commander for the group al-Qaida in Palestine. He appeared to criticize Palestinian leaders without naming them, along with Palestinians he viewed as not doing enough for their national cause.
"They own investments, companies and real estate inside and outside the country while the people are starving and without clothes," he said. Big salaries had lured some Palestinians to cooperate with Israel "like a herd of sheep," he said.
Speaking directly to Palestinians, the man said: "In every crisis, your leaders flee abroad and hand you over to killing and horror."
Some Israeli media have reported that al-Qaida was trying to build cells in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and Israel has indicted two West Bank militants for al-Qaida membership.
The man on the video threatened "a severe war (against) anyone who carries a weapon defending a traitor, an informer or a security coordinator."
"He will be a target for our swords if he does not repent and return to the people's ranks.... Be aware not to accompany them to death," he warned.
The Palestinian security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he did not believe there are any Al-Qaida cells present in Gaza, though there may be individuals who sympathize with the group's ideology.
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