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Hamas captures commander of pro-Al Qaida militia

GAZA CITY — Hamas sources said security forces in the Gaza Strip have captured Mahmoud Taleb, commander of the so-called Jaljalat.   

Jaljalat, which means "thunder," is regarded as the largest Al Qaida-aligned militia in the Gaza Strip.

"We are going to put him on trial for violating national security," a Hamas source said.

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The sources said the Hamas military and security forces have been searching for Taleb for more than a year. They identified Taleb as the de facto leader of the Al Qaida-aligned opposition, termed Salafists, in the Gaza Strip. Taleb was said to have been arrested early October, Middle East Newsline reported.

"We will strike the Salafists with an iron fist and without mercy," a Hamas security commander said.

The sources said the Hamas regime led by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh stepped up the search for Taleb in wake of the assault on an Al Qaida stronghold in Rafah in August 2009. In the assault, more than 30 people were killed, most of them from the Jund Ansar Allah. The commander of Jund, Abdul Latif Mussa, was also killed.

Despite the Hamas operation, Jund claimed responsibility for a series of bombings and other attacks on Hamas security forces in September. Hamas sources said the attacks were believed to have been carried out by Jaljalat, said to have 500 members. Hamas has assessed that Al Qaida-aligned groups, financed by Gulf Arabs, comprise about 2,000 operatives, many of them former Fatah fighters.

At the same time, Hamas released 28 members of Jund. The release on Oct. 7 came after the Islamist operatives pledged not to act against the Hamas regime.

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