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Hamas and muslim brotherhood tied to mossad { November 19 2004 }

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   http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-vpcol194047096nov19,0,7315856.story?coll=ny-viewpoints-headlines

Hamas grew out of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which established a small toehold in Gaza in the 1940s. In 1978, Sheik Ahmed Yassin refashioned the small Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood as the Movement of Islamic Resistance (with the Arabic acronym of Hamas). Hamas members despised Arafat and his secular nationalism, and dreamed of destroying Israel.

It is hard to imagine now, but Israeli secret support of Hamas continued in the 1980s, as the movement gained strength from the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Israeli attack on the PLO in Beirut. In contrast, the contemporary hard-line government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has assassinated Hamas leaders such as Sheikh Yassin.


http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-vpcol194047096nov19,0,7315856.story?coll=ny-viewpoints-headlines

Al-Qaida stands to benefit from Arafat's death

BY JUAN COLE
Juan Cole is professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian history at the University of Michigan and author of the Web Log, "Informed Comment."

November 19, 2004

Many observers welcomed the death of Yasser Arafat, seeing him as a lifelong terrorist incapable of negotiating in good faith.

Some hoped that a bureaucrat at the Palestinian Authority might take his place and make a deal with the Israelis. These celebrations misread Arafat's role, and underestimate the radical fundamentalist challenge, both from Hamas and perhaps increasingly from al-Qaida. Will Osama bin Laden be the greatest beneficiary of Arafat's passing?

Bin Laden and al-Qaida have long been much more interested in the struggle between the Palestinians and the Israelis than is generally recognized. In his most recent videotape, bin Laden said the idea for the Sept. 11 attacks came to him initially as a result of the 1982 Israeli siege of Beirut, which aimed at wiping out the Palestinian leadership. Was bin Laden invoking the plight of the Palestinians so explicitly because he hoped to find a new base of support in the Occupied Territories, just as he has in American-occupied Iraq?

Yasser Arafat led the shopkeepers and engineers of his middle-class Fateh party toward a vision of a business-friendly secular Arab nationalism. He also headed up a crazy quilt of leftist, middle class and Muslim groups, the Palestine Liberation Organization. His attempt to lead a broad coalition faltered, however, when it came to Hamas.

Hamas grew out of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which established a small toehold in Gaza in the 1940s. In 1978, Sheik Ahmed Yassin refashioned the small Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood as the Movement of Islamic Resistance (with the Arabic acronym of Hamas). Hamas members despised Arafat and his secular nationalism, and dreamed of destroying Israel.

It is hard to imagine now, but Israeli secret support of Hamas continued in the 1980s, as the movement gained strength from the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Israeli attack on the PLO in Beirut. In contrast, the contemporary hard-line government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has assassinated Hamas leaders such as Sheikh Yassin.

Meanwhile, the rise of Palestinian Islamic fundamentalism had implications far beyond the Gaza strip. Abdullah Azzam joined the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood and took up a teaching position at a university in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. There he taught the young Osama bin Laden.

Azzam was among the first volunteers to go off to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. In the 1980s, he joined bin Laden in this effort. Palestinians such as Azzam and later Abu Zubaydah played a prominent role in what became al-Qaida.

Bin Laden avoided the language of Palestinian nationalism, using religious symbols instead. He complained about the occupation of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem by infidel governments such as the United States and Israel. In 1989, when bin Laden returned to Jeddah from Pakistan, he preached a sermon against the Israeli crackdown on Palestinians during the first intifada. Bin Laden funded projects only in places that did not have their own insurgency, as a way of leveraging scarce resources. He let organizations like Hamas resist the Israelis in Gaza.

Bin Laden announced al-Qaida's holy war or jihad against the "Jews and Crusaders" in 1998. Al-Qaida sent shoe-bomber Richard Reid on an exploratory trip to Israel, and later carried out an attack on Israeli tourists in Mombasa in 2002. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of 9/11, wanted Muhammad Atta to move up the attack from September to April in order to "punish the Israelis" for their repression of Palestinians during the intifada that began in the fall of 2000.

Arafat's secular nationalism was supple enough to compromise with Israel and to imagine a two-state solution, even if the road of negotiations remained rocky. The continued Israeli colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories during the 1990s helped, along with terrorist attacks by radical groups such as Hamas, to derail the peace process, which Sharon had always opposed.

Arafat's death creates a vacuum in Palestinian leadership that will not soon be filled. Sharon's assassination of major Hamas leaders has also weakened authority structures in that party. If the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership cannot find a way to reinvigorate the peace process, cells of radical young Palestinians may grow up that look to bin Laden for their cues.

Even if local Palestinian leaders remain strong enough to keep al-Qaida out, the festering Israeli-Palestinian struggle remains among the best recruiting posters for al-Qaida with young Muslim men. Resolving this conflict would be the most effective weapon the United States could deploy in its war on terror.
Copyright 2004, Newsday, Inc.



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