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Tuesday, September 8, 2009     FOLLOW UPDATES ON TWITTER

Network aligned with Al Qaida declares holy war on Hamas, Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair

GAZA CITY — A group that proclaims its spiritual ties to Al Qaida has launched an offensive against the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.   

The group, Jaljalat, was believed to have been responsible for a series of attacks against the Hamas regime. The attacks, which took place in late August, including bombings of police stations and other Hamas security facilities.

"We don't belong to Al Qaida organizationally, but we follow their ideology," Jaljalat commander Mohammed Taleb said. "We pray to Allah that we will become part of them. They are our brothers and it's our duty to support them."

Jaljalat, with an estimated 750 members, has been deemed the largest Al Qaida group in the Gaza Strip. The group, with scores of former Hamas fighters, was believed to be the most dangerous to the Islamic regime.

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In a statement on Sept. 6, Taleb also said Jaljalat tried to assassinate at least two Western dignitaries. The dignitaries were identified as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Quartet coordinator Tony Blair, who toured the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2009.

"The hands of Carter and Blair are stained with Muslim blood," Taleb said. "It was our duty to kill the two."

In the statement, Taleb, a former commander in Hamas's military wing wanted by the regime since 2007, said Jaljalat was preparing to launch additional attacks on Hamas. Taleb called for an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip.

Jaljalat, which means thunder in Arabic, was said to have been linked to Jund Ansar Allah, decimated by a Hamas assault on a Rafah mosque in August. The assault led to the death of Jund leader Abdul Latif Mussa and more than 20 other members.

Taleb said Hamas has made Jaljalat the top priority of the Islamic regime. In the e-mail to the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat, Taleb said Hamas has raided Jaljalat strongholds in the Gaza Strip.

"They [Hamas] confiscated much of our weapons and ammunition," Taleb said. "Hamas also arrested many of our warriors upon their return from jihad missions."

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