Al-Qaeda Groups Active in Gaza after Year under Hamas

[ Reuters] Nidal al-Mughrabi - Analysts believe al-Qaeda-allied radical groups like Jaysh al-Ummah (Army of the Nation) have benefited from the Hamas takeover in Gaza to expand their membership. In addition, there has been an increase in attacks on Christians in the past year, apparently by Islamists not content with the extent of Hamas' "Islamization" of Gaza. Among the outward signs have been a proliferation of beards on men and headscarves on women, along with the virtual disappearance of alcohol. Market stalls do brisk business in selling recordings of speeches of al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahri and the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as well as videos of beheadings of U.S. and foreign soldiers and personnel in Iraq. One Gaza political analyst noted: "Hamas is keen not to be seen as an Islamic state, so they've refrained from passing laws or forcing people to follow what they believe. They have not taken action to Islamize the community. But allowing extremist thinking to breed armed cells is much more dangerous."

2008-06-11 01:00:00

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