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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Middle East

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Egypt: Al Qaeda is growing in Gaza

January 25, 2011 - 10:05 AM | by: Ibrahim Hazboun

Since the Hamas take over of Gaza in 2007, the media has published hundreds of reports about Al Qaeda growing in Gaza but has been unable to obtain clear evidence on their funding sources or their goals.

The latest accusation is against a Palestinian group established in 2004 that brought together former supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. The militant group, Jish Al Islam (Arabic for the Army of Islam), was one of three groups involved in the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

The group was focusing on attacks against Israel. Now for the first time, Egypt, an Arab country with a Muslim majority, has accused the group for the New Year’s Day suicide bombing that killed 23 Christians and wounded 100 outside a church in Alexandria.

Egypt’s Interior Minister Habib al-Adly announced that “conclusive evidence” shows the Gaza-based Army of Islam was behind the planning and execution of the attack, which sparked three days of Christian Coptic rioting in Cairo and several other cities. The Egyptian Authorities did not reveal any more information to show how they made the link between the attack and the Al Qaeda affiliated group.

The Palestinian group has rejected Cairo’s allegation that it was behind the New Year’s Day attack.” The Army of Islam has no connection to the church attack in Egypt, though we praise those who did it,” a spokesman for the Palestinian group told reporters in Gaza.

The Hamas government denies that Al Qeada has a presence in their territory saying these allegations are intended to divert the world attention from lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza by showing it as a terrorist safe haven.