Al Qaida attacks music stores, western-dressed women in Gaza

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

GAZA CITY Hamas has found an ally in its war for control of the Gaza Strip.

Al Qaida cells have come to Hamas's aid in the militia war against Fatah, particularly in the northern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources said purported Al Qaida operatives have joined or led attacks on Fatah targets in Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and Beit Layhia, regarded as the remaining Fatah bastions in the strip, Middle East Newsline reported.

Al Qaida cells have claimed responsibility for strikes on music stores and places of entertainment in the Gaza Strip. The cells have also attacked women in Western dress.

On Jan. 23, Al Qaida also claimed responsibility for an attack on a vacant resort in Bet Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. The fighters blew up the holiday village, said to have been owned by Preventive Security Apparatus founder Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan has been deemed the leading Fatah opponent of Hamas.

Witnesses said 40 masked Al Qaida fighters raided the Al Waha complex. They abducted three guards and then placed bombs in the rooms of the resort.

"Al Qaida has arrived in Gaza and we will destroy every place owned by Dahlan and bomb him, too," an Al Qaida attacker was quoted as saying.

Later, Dahlan aides denied that he owned the resort. Dahlan, supported by Egypt, Israel and the United States, has become the de facto chief of security agencies loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the Gaza Strip.

"Most of the Al Qaida people are former Hamas members with strong ties to the organization," a Palestinian source said. "The use of the Al Qaida name is meant to bolster their credentials and instill fear in the hearts of opponents."

On late Jan. 22, Palestinian insurgents blew up the office of Al Arabiya television in Gaza City. The station had been threatened since the Saudi-owned satellite channel broadcast a tape of PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a senior member of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The tape quoted Haniyeh as rejecting Fatah as a partner in the government. "Even if God sets conditions for us, we will reject this," Haniyeh was heard to say.

Later, a group termed "Swords of Righteousness claimed responsibility for the bombing of Al Arabiya. At the same time, the Hamas-aligned Executive Force warned that it would file charges against any media outlet deemed impartial.

"This is the project of fear and terror that is taking place," Fatah spokesman Maher Miqdad said. "Hamas is the hero of that scene par excellence."

Copyright 2007 East West Services, Inc.

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