Money from Zarqawi, Iran drawing Hamas to Iraq

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

BAGHDAD Iraqi officials said the Palestinian Hamas organization has sent operatives to carry out suicide strikes in Iraq.

They said Hamas agents were hired by both Iran as well as Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, the Jordanian national regarded as the lethal Sunni insurgent in Iraq, official said citing evidence from the Defense Ministry.

"There's less money for Hamas in Palestine and Syria," an Iraqi official said. "The result is that Hamas agents have been recruited by Al Zarqawi and Iran for operations in Iraq."

In 2003, Iraqi officials began asserting that Hamas agents were operating in Iraq against security and military forces as well as the coalition. So far, the government in Baghdad has not presented any evidence of a Hamas presence, Middle East Newsline reported.

On Sept. 19, the Shi'ite-based Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution accused Hamas of being responsible for a series of recent car bombings in Iraq. A council representative was quoted by state-owned Iraq Television as saying that 200 agents were sent to Iraq from Iran and have been responsible for recent attacks.

"They have been deployed all across Iraq and launched terrorist attacks and explosions of the Iraqi police and National Guards bases," the representative said.

Officials said Iran began using Hamas in 2004 for operations against police and National Guard targets in Shi'ite cities and suburbs. They said some of the Hamas agents joined the Iranian-financed Mahdi Army, led by cleric Muqtada Sadr, and participated in the Shi'ite revolt in April.

For his part, Sadr has termed the Mahdi Army an "extension" of Hamas and the Beirut-based Hizbullah. Hizbullah has been sponsored and financed by Iran and was said to have sent hundreds of operatives to Iraq.

Officials said Hamas agents were believed to be operating in several cities controlled by Sunni insurgents, including Faluja. The U.S. military has launched air strikes on targets of the Tawhid and Jihad group, led by Al Zarqawi.

On Monday, U.S. aircraft conducted what the military termed a successful precision strike on construction equipment belonging to insurgents outside Faluja. The military said the equipment was being used to build combat positions outside the city.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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