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Hamas denied over the weekend that it had issued a statement mourning Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Various journalists and news agencies reported on Thursday that they had received a statement saying that Hamas mourned Zarqawi, who was killed by US bombs north of Baghdad on Wednesday.
The statement described Zarqawi as a martyr of the Arab and Muslims and said: "With hearts full of faith, Hamas commends brother-fighter Abu Musab, who was martyred at the hands of the savage crusade campaign, which targets the Arab homeland, starting in Iraq."
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said, "Hamas did not issue any statement in this regard."
He added, however, that Hamas "reiterates its supportive position to all liberation movements and foremost the Iraqi liberation movement, for which Zarqawi was one of the symbols in the face of the American occupation."
According to the Palestine Information Center, a Web site affiliated with Hamas, the statement was actually written by Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Information Center said the statement had been fabricated to cause damage to Hamas. "This statement was written in a certain political kitchen," sources in Hamas told the center. They said Abdel Rahim had been behind several false statements that were issued recently allegedly on behalf of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees.
Hamas also condemned Palestinian Web sites that rushed to quote the supposed Hamas statement without verifying its authenticity.