France: Hamas linked to al-Qaida


Hamas has links to al-Qaida, the French foreign minister said.

Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday that he believes Hamas has been in contact with al-Qaida and that such links long pre-date the group’s takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.

“I think Hamas did not wait for this extreme situation – the current terrible situation in Gaza – to have contacts with al-Qaida,” Kouchner told reporters. “And it would perhaps be too simple to think that we, the international community, are responsible.  Now let’s not accuse the West of being responsible for the link that extremist organizations maintain among themselves.”

Kouchner appeared to be responding to comments by his Italian counterpart, Massimo D’Alema, who said that the West risked pushing Hamas into an alliance with al-Qaida. Kouchner indicated that Western efforts to isolate Hamas are not responsible for its alliance with al-Qaida.

Hamas denies there is an al-Qaida presence in the Palestinian Authority, though some of its officials privately acknowledge the existence of sleeper cells from Osama bin Laden’s international network in Gaza.

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