Friday, December 22, 2017

Hamas: One Man's Global Jihadist is Another Man's Anti-Israel Freedom Fighter

Last month, following the ISIS terrorist attack on a mosque in the Sinai, the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was closed. This was the crossing that Hamas controlled -- until it turned  control over to Abbas and the Palestinian Authority as part of the "reconciliation" between them. A PA official announced that Egypt closed the crossing because it suspected that some of the terrorists fled the Sinai and used Hamas tunnels to enter Gaza "with the knowledge of senior Hamas officials.”

Evelyn Gordon asserts that the incident and Egypt's reaction prove that Hamas is more than an anti-Israel terrorist group -- it is a Global Jihadist group:
Incidentally, this track record conclusively disproves the widespread fallacy that Hamas is primarily concerned with the Palestinian cause rather than the cause of global jihad. An organization concerned with Palestinian well-being would strive to preserve good relations with Egypt in order to ensure that Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world remained open. Only an organization that prioritized global jihad way above Palestinian wellbeing would offer extensive aid to Islamic State, even at the price of having Rafah almost permanently closed.
Hamas logo

Hamas is certainly not shy about using the word "jihad." The Hamas Covenant uses the word "jihad" 38 times.

More than that, Martin Kramer, in an article he contributed to in "Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Global Jihad" notes that the covenant makes the Hamas connection to the Muslim Brotherhood very clear. According to Article 2:
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine. Moslem Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times
Then in Article 7:
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one link in the chain of jihad in confronting the Zionist invasion. It is connected and linked to the [courageous] uprising of the martyr 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam and his brethren the jihad fighters of the Muslim Brotherhood in the year 1936. It is further related and connected to another link, [namely] the jihad of the Palestinians, the efforts and jihad of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1948 war, and the jihad operations of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1968 and afterwards. [emphasis added]
Later, the Hamas Covenant directly addresses facilitating the contribution of Jihad fighters:
"We demand that the Arab countries around Israel open their borders to jihad fighters from among the Arab and Islamic peoples, so they may fulfill their role and join their efforts to the efforts of their brothers - the Muslim brethren in Palestine. As for the rest of the Arab and Muslim countries, we demand that they facilitate the passage of the jihad fighters into them and out of them - that is the very least [they can do].
Kramer points out that the Hamas parent organiztion, the Muslim Brotherhood, has also been the source of several key members and leading commanders of al Qaeda, such as Abdullah Azzam and Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of 9/11.

Jonathan Halevi, who also contributed an article to "Global Jihad," writes that in March 2006, Hamas Interior Minister Said Sayyam, who is responsible for the security forces, announced that he would not arrest jihadists who carry out terror attacks -- this at a time that al Qaeda was developing a presence in both the West Bank and Gaza.

Halevy writes that connections between Hamas and Al Qaeda go back to the early 1990's, when in April 1991 the Sudanese leader Hasan Turabi hosted a “Popular Arab and Islamic Conference” bringing together Islamists from the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Both Hamas and Osama bin Laden attended and Hamas training camps existed alongside those of al Qaeda. bin Laden went so far as to refer to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin as one of the five ulema upon whom bin Laden based his August 1996 Declaration of Jihad Against the U.S

Osama bin Laden; credit: Hamid Mir; Source: Wikipedia

Other incidents illustrating a connection between Hamas and Al Qaeda:
  • In August 2000, Israel uncovered a terror network linked to al-Qaeda that was headed by Nabil Okal, a Hamas operative from Gaza who underwent military training in bin Laden camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1997-1998.

  • In July 2005, al-Qaeda fired Kassam rockets from Gaza at the Israeli town of Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif, and disseminated a video documenting their activities.

  • October 7, 2005, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an published a declaration circulated in Khan Yunis in which al-Qaeda announced the establishment of a branch in Gaza.

  • On March 26, 2006, senior Hamas figure Muhammad Sayyam met in Pakistan with Sayyid Salah al-Din, leader of the Kashmiri terror orga-nization Hezb ul-Mujahidin, which functioned as an al-Qaeda affiliate
Making the connection between the 2 groups explicit, on October 22, 2003, Richard A. Clarke, the former National Counterterrorism Coordinator on the US National Security Council, said that Hamas and al-Qaeda had a common financial infrastructure: “the funding mechanisms for PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] and Hamas appear also to have been funding al-Qaeda.”

In 2004, Haaretz reported (Hamas Reveals Its Global Islamic Aspirations) that Hamas took credit for a 2003 suicide bombing at Mike's Place in Tel Aviv, where 3 people were killed and dozens were wounded. The attacks were carried out by a Pakistani-born British Muslim accompanied by another Pakistan-born Briton, from Derby. Hamas claimed:
"We have decided that the response to the crime of the assassination of Dr. Ibrahim Almakadeh should take place at the global level of the Islamic world, because of the views represented by the doctor, a supreme Islamic thinker and commander,"
There were similarities in the attack with terrorist bombings carried out by the global jihadists of Al Qaeda:
  • It was the first time Hamas presented one of terrorist attacks as part of a global Islamic struggle
  • It was also the first time Hamas had used non-Palestinian suicide bombers.
  • At the time of the bombing, no terrorist group took responsibility, so after the identity of the bomber and accomplice was discovered, it was originally assumed that al-Qaida was behind the bombing.
In 2011, a terrorist attack near Eilat killed eight people and wounded 30. It was carried out by 3 groups: 2 associated with Hamas and another with ties to global jihadists.

This game that Hamas has been playing, associating with global jihadist groups, is why in 2014 Egypt designated the Hamas group Izzadin Kassam to be a terrorist group -- the first time any Arab regime had ever declared a Palestinian terrorist organization to be a terrorist group.

According to Carolyn Glick, Egypt had no choice but to define the Hamas group as terrorists:
Despite its insistent protestations that the Jews are its only enemies, Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been a major player, indeed, arguably the key player in the jihadist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that threatens to destroy the political, economic and military viability of the Egyptian state. The declared purpose of the insurgency is to overthrow the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and integrate Egypt into Islamic State’s “caliphate.”
Near the beginning of 2015, thirty-two people, mainly soldiers, were killed in the Sinai by a group identified as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a jihadist group pledging its allegiance to ISIS and declaring Sinai to be a province of its “caliphate.” Glick notes that a report by Yoram Schweitzer of the Institute for National Security Studies identifies Hamas members as among the original founders of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, in cooperation with local Salafist Beduins and with al-Qaida terrorists.

According to Glick, Hamas terrorists increasingly declare their allegiance to Islamic State. For example, following the massacre of the French journalists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, several hundred protesters in Gaza waved Islamic State flags in support of the massacre.

Glick sees Hamas not as merely a terrorist threat to Israel but as a lynchpin in the threat of global jihad. This creates the irony that while Israel allies itself with Egypt in facing this threat, the West attempts to coerce Israel into helping Hamas rebuild its infrastructure. Ideally, post-Obama there will a beginning of a realization of the Hamas connection to global jihadist threats.

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