Thursday, October 30, 2008

Al Qa'ida wannabes in Gaza

Since they wiped out Fatah in the Gaza Strip last year, the only opposition that Hamas cannot easily eliminate comes from the warlord Mumtaz Dughmush and his array of affiliated criminal gangs and militias in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City. Some of these anti-Hamas subsets have for months now been putting on a show of Salafism, in the hope of getting a supply of money and weapons from the same rich Arabs who bankroll al-Qa'ida. Their techniques include: aggrandizing Usama Bin Ladin, Abu Mus'ab az-Zarqawi, and the like; affecting prestigious tribal-sounding names; purporting to "refute" Hamas's policies by quoting select bits and pieces of the qur'aan -- in general just imitating al-Qa'ida and its clerics. One of the Sabra rabble-rousers who is playing the part of the cleric is a guy who goes by "Abu an-Nur al-Maqdisi" (after Bayt al-Maqdis, a Muslim name for Jerusalem).

On the Sunni terrorist websites, the flow of condemnations, threats, and oaths against Hamas has been pretty heavy and steady. Naturally some of that material is just hot air from nonparticipants, notably some so-called Palestinian refugees who have never even seen the Gaza Strip. But some of it is authentic enough.

Those are samples of the banners that accompany audio releases coming out of Gaza these days. The guy with the gray beard is Abu an-Nur. His people call themselves Salafi Jihad. They are not the same people as the more famous Jaish al-Islam, kidnappers of Alan Johnston, of whom about a dozen members were massacred by Hamas in mid-September.