The flow of Al Qaida fighters to the Gaza Strip has continued despite
Hamas's crackdown. In August 2009, Hamas forces raided a Rafah mosque
controlled by the Al Qaida-aligned Jund Ansar Allah and killed the group's
leader and more than 20 other operatives.
"Following Hamas's mini-crackdown, the Salafi groupings have continued
to grow," Jonathan Spyer, senior research fellow at the Global Research in
International Affairs Center, said. "No clear line exists between them and
the more moderate Islamists of Hamas."
The sources said the new arrivals have been training members of at least
Al Qaida-aligned militias and were bolstering other groups. The militias
were identified as the Army of Islam and the Army of Allah, both of which
began as criminal gangs associated with the Fatah movement.
The influx of Sunni operatives was said to have been financed by
elements within the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly countries such as
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The sources said these
countries have sought to prevent the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip from
expanding its alliance with Iran and its proxy, Hizbullah.
"Hamas now faces a powerful Sunni opposition to Iranian
infiltration and influence," the source said. "The Al Qaida people would
also oppose any directive by Iran to suspend the war against Israel."
The sources said Israel's intelligence community detected an Al Qaida
presence in the Gaza Strip as early as 2001. But they said Gulf Arabs and Al
Qaida began pouring in money and operatives into the Gaza Strip in 2008
after the Hamas regime rejected Saudi demands to end its alliance with Iran.
The intelligence community has determined that Al Qaida and its Gulf
financiers would increase aid and bolster the flow of operatives to the Gaza
The sources said Al Qaida wants to build a movement similar to Shabab in
Somalia, or a well-financed Islamic opposition that could easily recruit
operatives and supporters.
"Hamas is very worried over the influx of the Al Qaida people, and has
conducted several raids of Army of Islam," the source said.