In order to obtain “billions of dollars” from Qatar, Hamas has agreed to ease restrictions in Gaza on its rival Al Qaeda. Dozens of Al Qaeda fighters have already been released from prison by Hamas officials to meet Doha’s demands.
Qatar is probably emboldened by the influence and traction it has gained by backing Islamist fighters in Mali, Syria, and the Arab Spring countries. Its monarchy senses that this is the perfect time to expand their influence in the Palestinian territories where old guard terrorist groups are short on cash. Judging by the relative lack of media coverage of this development, they’re getting away with it.
Hamas eases up on Al Qaida in hopes of securing Qatari cash
Special to WorldTribune.com
GAZA CITY — Hamas, desperate for new allies, has ended its crackdown on Al Qaida-aligned militias financed by Qatar.
Palestinian sources said the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip has released scores of Al Qaida-aligned militia members, known as Salafists.
The sources said the restrictions on the militias were eased amid Hamas’ crisis with neighboring Egypt over the revolt in the Sinai Peninsula.
“Qatar has promised billions of dollars to Hamas, but the money was held up until the policy against the Salafists changed,” a source said.
Al Qaida-aligned militias, including Army of Islam, Army of the Nation, Jaljalat and Swords of Righteousness, had long been regarded as a strategic threat by Hamas. In 2009, Hamas killed 22 Al Qaida fighters in a raid of their stronghold in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.
Over the last two years, however, the Al Qaida militias were bolstered by tens of millions of dollars in cash and weapons supplied mostly by Qatar. In May 2013, a delegation of leading Sunni clerics from Kuwait and Qatar, including Yusef Qaradawi, arrived in the Gaza Strip and urged the Hamas leadership to release militia fighters.
Since then, the Salafists have sought to draft an agreement to define the activities of Al Qaida militias, most of them armed with rockets that could strike deep into Israel. The sources said Qatar signaled it would intensify aid once an agreement was signed.
The sources said Hamas has demanded that Al Qaida militias refrain from any attacks on Israel without permission from the Islamist regime. They said Hamas also wanted to control all weapons supplies to the militias and was refusing to return arms already confiscated.
So far, more than 40 Al Qaida-aligned operatives were released from Hamas prisons over the last two months, the sources said. They said Hamas was expected to keep most of the Salafists in prison until a full agreement was reached and Qatar relayed aid…