Iran has greatly increased its role in training Hamas gunmen both in the Gaza Strip and abroad, a senior Egyptian security official told this column.
The official said Iran believes there will be a confrontation with Israel this year over Tehran’s nuclear facilities and has thus stepped up its training of Hamas, whose gunmen will be instrumental in carrying out retaliatory attacks against the Jewish state during any future war.
The official said the training is taking place both in Gaza, where Iran has militants stationed, and in other countries, particularly in Lebanon and Iran itself.
He said an explosion in Lebanon last month that the Iranian-backed Hizbullah group blamed on Israel actually was part of a work accident during training exercises between Hizbullah and Hamas. Two Hamas members were killed in that attack, which Hamas claimed was targeting Hamas’s representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan.
The official also said Egypt has information that Hamas and Hizbullah for the first time formed a joint operations room from which the two groups exchange knowledge, coordinate efforts and work on obtaining weapons.
Hamas Spokesman: We’re Not Afraid
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum was confronted during a WABC radio interview with this reporter about whether the assassination in Dubai of one of his group’s leaders scares Hamas members into thinking they could be targeted next.
“You’re a member of Hamas. Are you afraid? Are other members of your group afraid of being assassinated by Israel?” Barhoum was asked this past Sunday. “This is a professional assassination and the video has been posted on the Internet. Does this scare you?”
“No, no we are not afraid because we are not leaving Gaza,” Barhoum replied. “But finally if the Arab community could be in deep silence about all of these crimes committed by [Israel], everything will be dangerous. Not only for Hamas, but it will be dangerous for the Arabs and Islamists and that community.”
Hamas member Mahmoud al-Mabhough was assassinated by a hit team in a Dubai hotel on Jan 19. Israel had accused him of working with Iran to coordinate attacks against Israelis and smuggle weapons into the Gaza strip.
Barhoum said he is sure Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency was responsible for the assassination, “because Mossad is the only one who could commit this crime in Dubai.”
Barhoum also said Hamas has information indicating that members of the Palestinian Authority, headed by rival Mahmoud Abbas, aided in the targeted elimination.
Asked about the accusation that Mabhough was working for Iran, Barhoum said, “This is not true. [Israel] wants to withdraw responsibility of this crime by these false accusations.”
More Ties Between Radical Muslims And Obama Whitehouse
A radical Muslim group that was an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas facilitated the controversial meeting last week between Muslim law students and John Brennan, President Obama’s top adviser on counter-terrorism.
The Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, boasted on its website that it facilitated the meeting at New York University with Brennan.
ISNA is known for its enforcement of Saudi-style Islam in mosques through the U.S. Discover the Networks notesISNA, through its affiliate, the North American Islamic Trust – a Saudi government-backed organization – reportedly holds the mortgages on 50 to 80 percent of all mosques in the U.S. and Canada.
The Justice Department named ISNA an unindicted co-conspirator in its case against the Holy Land Foundation in Texas, which was found guilty of raising money for the Hamas terrorist organization. Last year, Holy Land founders were given life sentences for “funneling $12 million to Hamas.”
ISNA was founded in 1981 by the Saudi-funded Muslim Students’ Association. The two groups are still partners. This reporter attended an MSA event in New York in 2003 at which violence against the U.S. was urged by speakers.
Speaking at the ISNA-facilitated event, Brennan stated the Obama administration is working to calibrate policies in the fight against terrorism that ensure Americans are “never” profiled. Brennan declared himself a “citizen of the world.” Brennan also said that President Obama does not see the war on terrorism as “a fight against ‘jihadists.”
Previously, Brennan has argued that the U.S. should encourage greater assimilation of the Hizbullah terrorist organization into the Lebanese government.
Outside of al-Qaeda, Hizbullah has the distinction of having killed the most Americans in terror attacks. It is also responsible for scores of terrorist actions targeting Israelis, including rocket launchings against civilian population centers. Hizbullah’s attacks against the Israeli north in 2006 killed 43 Israeli civilians and wounded more than 4,000.
In a July 2008 article in The Annals, a publication of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Brennan argued it “would not be foolhardy, however, for the United States to tolerate, and even to encourage, greater assimilation of Hizbullah into Lebanon’s political system, a process that is subject to Iranian influence.”
Also, at a press conference in August at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Brennan declared, “Hizbullah started out as purely a terrorist organization back in the early ’80s and has evolved significantly over time. And now it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hizbullah organization.”
Maintenance of a civilian unit of doctors and lawyers by terrorist groups is common in the Middle East. Hamas has long brandished a civilian wing that provides medical care and education to the Palestinian population. According to Israeli security officials, Hizbullah and Hamas emphasize this outreach to endear their terror groups to the local population.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the book “The Late Great State of Israel.” Follow Klein on Twitter under the name “AaronKleinWND.”