We, the Salafists, count more than 11,000 members who carry with them jihadist teachings from both Ayman At-Thawahri and Osama Bin Laden," said Abu Al-Hareth, leader of the Jund Ansar Allah, during an interview in his poorly lit Gaza home.That's a funny position for Hamas to be in. The Left tends to point to this sort of thing as evidence that the Gazans are being "radicalized" by the blockade. I think Hamas's own cultivation of notions of Islamic purity and Jihad have created a certain receptivity to competing purveyors of the same things. Or maybe Salafists will come in handy when they need to present themselves as the "pragmatic" Islamists.
"Of this number, 70 percent are members of the Jaljalat, a group made up of former Al-Qassam Brigades and Hamas affiliates," he explained.
The Salafist movement shot to public attention in the summer of 2009, when an Imam declared Gaza an "Islamic emirate" during a Friday sermon in southern Gaza. Fierce clashes ensued between Hamas security forces and Salafist affiliates, leaving 16 dead.
The group is widely considered an extremist militant bloc, extracting ideas and beliefs from Al-Qaida's call for Jihad and the implementation of Shariah (Islamic) law globally. [...]
Hamas' security forces, he said, are "active in confronting the Salafists ... out of fear of the spread of its thought among many committed young men, leading to many defecting from Hamas."
Despite these measures, Abu Al-Hareth said, the Salafist groups will continue to grow, recruit and operate.
"We demand a Shariah dialogue with Hamas - not a political or security-related one. The [Gaza] government has made many mistakes which has increased tensions. We criticize Hamas for not applying Islamic Shariah."
Crossposted on Soccer Dad