CAIRO (AFP) — Hamas has helped Al-Qaeda militants enter the Islamist-controlled Gaza Strip and formed an alliance with them, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
“Al-Qaeda is present in Gaza and I’m convinced that they (Hamas) are their allies,” Abbas said in an interview with the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.
“I can say without doubt say that Al-Qaeda is present in the Palestinian territories and that this presence — especially in Gaza — is facilitated by Hamas,” he said.
Israel has claimed in the past that Al-Qaeda was present in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas militants in June violently routed forces loyal to Abbas’s secular Fatah faction.
In January, militants from a hitherto unknown group claiming links to Al-Qaeda ransacked a private school in the Gaza Strip.
A statement signed by the “Army of Believers, Al-Qaeda in Palestine Organisation” was left behind at the American International School after the attack.
The Army of Islam, which also claims links to Al-Qaeda, kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston in 2007 and held him hostage for 114 days. The group also took part in the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006.