The aftereffects of bloody fighting in Gaza last Friday continue to reverberate throughout the terrorist world, as various Al-Qaeda offshoots call for revenge. According to CNN's Arabic-language news site, several Al-Qaeda branches have placed a message on their websites accusing Hamas of “abandoning Islam,” and calling on their supporters to take revenge.
Friday's fighting saw Hamas forces face off against a Salafi Islamist group, Jund Ansar Allah (Warriors of G-d), in the southern Gaza town of Rafiah. Hamas forces raided a mosque affiliated with the Al-Qaeda inspired group shortly after Jund Ansar Allah leader Abdel-Latif Moussa declared Rafiah to be the beginning of an “Islamic emirate” in Gaza.
Moussa was killed in the subsequent fighting. While Hamas has claimed that Moussa died after detonating a bomb vest he was wearing, killing himself and a Hamas negotiator, Al-Qaeda sources denied the Hamas report. Instead, they termed Moussa a “martyr” who was killed by “the bullets and bombs of Hamas.”
Al-Qaeda members linked the recent fighting in Rafiah to Hamas's battles last year with a group calling itself Army of Islam. Regarding both cases of Gaza infighting, they accused Hamas of serving the interests of Israel, referred to as “the Jewish usurpers of the land of Palestine,” and of Western countries fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Al-Qaeda linked sites called on the organization's leader and second in command, Osama Bin-Laden and Ayman a-Zawahiri, “not to keep silent on this horrible massacre.”
Hamas: Police, not Hamas Forces, Fought in Rafiah
In what appeared to be an attempt to distance itself from the increasingly criticized raid on Jund Ansar Allah, Hamas leaders released a statement saying that it was Gaza police officers, and not Hamas terrorists, who fought in Rafiah on Friday. Hamas controls the Gaza police force, but the force is not officially a branch of the Hamas terrorist movement.
However, human rights groups in Gaza slammed Hamas's statement as untrue, and said that the Al-Qassam Brigades, an armed terrorist group that openly affiliates with Hamas, played a part in the Friday raid. The groups criticized Hamas for using the Brigades forces instead of police, saying, “the Brigades cannot be a law enforcement body.”
Hizb U-Tahrir Backs Hamas
Hamas received support earlier this week from an unlikely source: Hizb U-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), a breakaway Islamist group that, like Jund Ansar Allah, seeks the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate and sees the Hamas leadership in Gaza as illegitimate. Hizb U-Tahrir leaders blamed Jund Ansar Allah for instigating the fighting, and criticized the group's methods, saying, “killing and fighting will never be a legal means of establishing an Islamic emirate.”
Hizb U-Tahrir ended its call for peace between Gaza groups with a call for violence against Israel, saying that both Hamas and Jund Ansar Allah must “turn their guns toward the occupation alone.”