jund ansar allah gaza rafah 248 88.
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Jund Ansar Allah is one of several tiny radical Islamist groups that have popped up in the Gaza Strip in the past few years.
These groups have openly challenged the Hamas government on the grounds that it has not imposed Islamic law (Shari'a).
The radical groups want to see a regime similar to the one in Sudan and other Islamic countries, where thieves have their arms amputated and those found guilty of adultery are stoned to death.
Some have claimed that these groups are either linked to or inspired by al-Qaida, but so far there is no evidence to back up their claim.
Hamas officials, however, say that many of the leaders and members of these groups were in fact affiliated with the former Fatah-controlled security forces or with militias belonging to Fatah in the Gaza Strip.
A senior Hamas official told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend that Jund Ansar Allah received its weapons from former Fatah policemen and security officials in the southern Gaza Strip.
The official said he did not rule out the possibility that Fatah leaders in the West Bank were trying to use radical Islamic groups to undermine the Hamas government.
This was not the first time that an extremist group has engaged in an armed confrontation with Hamas.
In the past, Hamas managed to crush other groups such as Ansar Bet al-Maqdes, Tawheed and Jihad, Army of Islam and Jund Muhammad.
In most cases, each group had fewer than 100 followers, according to another Hamas official.
He said that the main purpose of these groups was to "defame" Hamas by making it appear as if it was behind the bombing of coffee shops and Internet centers. He also pointed out that members of Jund Ansar Allah were behind the explosion at a wedding celebrated by the Dahlan clan two weeks ago.
According to the Hamas official, many members of these groups are teenagers who are recruited in mosques. He added that the radical groups increased their activities after the IDF's Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in 2002, "by exploiting the sense of despair" among young people.
Sheikh Abdel Latif Mousa, the founder and leader of Jund Ansar Allah who was killed on Saturday in Rafah, was considered one of the most influential preachers in the southern Gaza Strip, where his Friday sermons attracted thousands of young men.
He became so popular that his followers urged him to declare himself the ruler of an Islamic emirate in the entire Strip. Mousa's main argument was that Hamas had become too lenient and moderate.
About two years ago he abandoned the private medical clinic he ran in Rafah to devote all his time to spreading his anti-Hamas message and recruiting more followers. He and his followers turned a mosque in the Brazil suburb of Rafah into their main headquarters, ignoring repeated warnings from Hamas to leave the building.
The death of Mousa and the liquidation of his group is seen a small but significant victory for Hamas. If anything, the showdown in Rafah shows that the Hamas regime remains powerful in the Gaza Strip.