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Al-Qaeda’s Zawahiri voices support for Hamas

(AFP) Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahiri voiced backing for Hamas and warned against any offensive to wrest control of Gaza from the Islamist movement, in an Internet tape on Monday. In the audio message, Al-Qaeda’s number two charged that Egypt and Saudi Arabia were planning to join an “offensive” against Hamas, which seized Gaza 10 days ago from the secular Fatah party of president Mahmud Abbas. And in a dramatic change of tone, Zawawhiri urged Muslim fighters to back Hamas with funds and weapons, saying it was a “religious duty.” “Today we must support the mujahedeen (holy warriors) in Palestine, including the Hamas mujahedeen, despite all the mistakes made by their leadership,” Zawahiri said on the Al-Hasbah site often used by Al-Qaeda. “Unite with all the mujahedeen of the world against an offensive being prepared… which the Egyptians and Saudis will join in,” he said. Zawahiri, who in the past spoke out vehemently against the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) for joining the political process in the Palestinian territories, urged the group to amend its policies. “We tell our brothers, the Hamas mujahedeen, that we and the entire Muslim nation stands alongside you but you must redress your (political) path,” said the man regarded as the brains of the Al-Qaeda network. Zawahiri warned, however, of pending instability “because the ground is being paved for an invasion of Gaza.” Quoting a British newspaper report, he claimed that Israel’s new Defence Minister Ehud Barak was mobilising 20,000 men and warplanes to attack and destroy Gaza infrastructure. “Muslims must join Hamas ranks… and we will back them by facilitating the passage of weapons and supplies from neighbouring countries,” he said. The recording was posted as Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Abbas, Eghptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II were set to meet for a summit in Egypt seeking to bolster the Palestinian leader. Hamas took power in March 2006 after a shock election victory over the long-dominant Fatah and then headed a unity government in a fractious power-sharing deal with Abbas’s party. But Abbas dismissed the unity cabinet headed by Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya after what he branded a military coup by the Islamist fighters and set up an emergency government that enjoys the support of the West. A picture of Zawahiri was posted on the site along with the recording entitled “Forty Years Since the Fall of Al-Quds (Jerusalem)”, a reference to Israel’s occupation of the eastern sector of the holy city which it seized from Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israel war. The Egyptian-born Zawahiri frequently emerges in video or audio tapes to speak for the Al-Qaeda network. With the Al-Qaeda chief now staying out of the public eye, he has become its most senior spokesman as well. The bearded, bespectacled Zawahiri has a 25-million-dollar US bounty on his head and officials say he is the Al-Qaeda network’s main strategist and ideologist as well as its second-in-command. In March, Zawahiri took aim at Hamas, accusing it of surrendering to Israel by agreeing to form a unity government created after a powersharing deal with Fatah brokered by Saudi Arabia in the holy city of Mecca. “Today… the direction taken by Hamas has handed over to the Jews the greater part of Palestine,” Zawahiri said then.

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June 25, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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