Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Palestinians' Jailed Leader Speaks out Political Official Says Hamas Can't Control Militia Violence

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Palestinians' Jailed Leader Speaks out Political Official Says Hamas Can't Control Militia Violence

Article excerpt

The political wing of Hamas exercises only limited control over dozens of loosely allied militias, says a senior leader.

The question of the political wing's accountability for terrorism has become crucial since four suicide bombings in Israel for which Hamas, or elements of Hamas, are widely blamed.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have cracked down on the political and social leaders of Hamas as part of an effort to stamp out terrorism.

When Palestinian leader Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on July 15 as he returned from abroad, U.S. and Israeli officials said he was a senior official of Hamas.

On Friday, in his first interview since his detention, the 45-year-old businessman said he was the head of the political bureau of Hamas. Abu Marzook said he had agreed to an interview in order to call for an end of violence by both Israel and the Palestinians, and he said tensions in the Mideast had reached a critical stage.

Abu Marzook has a doctorate in engineering from a university in Louisiana. There was no way to verify his statements about the structure of Hamas and his own role.

Many of his assertions, like the political wing's lack of control over military actions, would serve his own legal interest as well as those of Hamas.

When Israeli officials requested Abu Marzook's arrest and extradition, they said they believed that he was personally linked to several bombings. U.S. prosecutors also said he had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hamas, including money for arms, and that he had overseen the recruitment of terrorists.

Ulster Parallel

Now waiting for action on the request for his extradition, Abu Marzook lives in a small cell where he is allowed newspapers and reading material but no television. His lawyer, Stanley Cohen, said resolution of his case could take two to nine years.

Throughout the 90-minute interview, the Palestinian argued that efforts by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and others to crush Hamas would backfire and that a dialogue similar to what Britain is undertaking with the Irish Republican Army might be the only way to end the violence. …

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