mashaal 298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
In an another sign of the Palestinian leadership growing alliance with al-Qaida, Damascus-based Hamas head Khaled Mashaal recently met in Yemen with a representative of Osama bin Laden's organization who is wanted by the US for his involvement in supporting and funding global terror, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
During a visit to Yemen two weeks ago, the local Hamas branch organized a fund-raising event to recruit financial aid for the new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government. During the event, Mashaal met with Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani - suspected by the US as being a "loyalist to Osama bin Laden and supporter of al-Qaida" - who even donated 200,000 Yemenite rials to Hamas, the equivalent of a little over $1,000.
"This meeting reinforces the fact that Hamas and al-Qaida come out of the same ideological well-spring of global jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood," said former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold, whose Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs carefully followed the meeting and recently published a paper on the Hamas-al-Qaida alliance. "They still share the same financial infrastructure to this day."
At the fund-raising event, Zindani praised Hamas suicide bombers and called on his followers to donate money to assist the Palestinian people. "The Hamas government is the Palestinian people's government today," he told the crowd of several thousand. "It is the jihad-fighting, steadfast, resolute government of Palestine."
In 2004, US authorities designated Zindani as a terror supporter and a spiritual figure for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Zindani, the authorities claimed, played a key role in the 2004 purchasing of weapons on behalf of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.
"The US has credible evidence that Zindani, a Yemeni national, supports designated terrorists and terrorist organizations," a statement released by the US Treasury Department said. "Zindani has a long history of working with bin Laden, notably serving as one of his spiritual leaders. In this leadership capacity, he has been able to influence and support many terrorist causes, including actively recruiting for al-Qaida training camps."
Senior IDF officers have confirmed that al-Qaida has already established terror cells in the Gaza Strip and has begun working on creating a similar infrastructure in the West Bank. Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Harel, head of the IDF's Planning Directorate, told the Post recently that al-Qaida was operating within the PA territories.
"Al-Qaida is about money," he said. "There is always a flow of funds to terrorism in the territories and it is difficult to get our hands on the money."
Last week, the London-based Al Hayat newspaper reported that 10 al-Qaida activists who had recently entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt had been captured by PA security forces. Citing Jordanian security sources, the paper said that the cells were in the midst of planning "large-scale" terror attacks on sensitive and strategic targets - possible the crossings from Gaza into Israel.