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Friday, July 13, 2007

Hamas, 1993

Soccer Dad was reminded by my Bir Zeit posting of a Harper's article from 1993 about Hamas' penchant for killing "collaborators."

At the time this was written, Hamas was still regarded universally as a despicable terror group. Now, they manage to write op-eds for major US newspapers.

I was most interested to see that 200 "collaborators" that this article notes were executed by Islamists during the first intifada. In fact during that conflict there were over 1000 PalArabs killed by each other, and in 1991 more Palestinian Arabs were killed by other PalArabs than by Israelis. It is an amazingly consistent fact of Palestinian Arab history that any long-term violence against Jews inevitably ends up with more Arab-on-Arab violence.
From a clandestine videotape made last summer by the Squads of Ez ed-Deen el-Qassam, the military arm of Hamas, the Islamic Palestinian group that in the past three years has risen to prominence in the Israeli-occupied territories. The squads, which number about 100 men each, are responsible for having killed about a dozen Israeli soldiers and settlers in the past year; last December the Israeli government deported 415 Palestinians to Lebanon in response to the kidnapping and execution by Hamas of an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip. The videotape, which is intended to recruit and inspire followers of Hamas, has been covertly copied and passed among Palestinians in the occupied territories. It is more than four hours long and contains news reports of Hamas attacks on Israelis, instructions on handling weapons, and interviews with members of the squads and with blindfolded Palestinians accused of collaborating with the Israeli security forces. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed during the intifada for "collaboration," a term that can include anything from working for the Israeli military to informing on other Palestinians. The speaker whose statement appears below is one of the leaders of the squads. translated from the Arabic by Harper's Magazine.

In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful. My name is Yasser Hammad al-Hassan Ali. I live in al-Nusseirat [a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip]. I was born in 1964. I finished high school, then attended Gaza Polytechnic. Later, I went to work for the Islamic University in Gaza as a clerk. I'm married, and I have two daughters.

The Squads of Ez ed-Deen el-Qassam are the only group in Palestine explicitly dedicated to jihad. Our name may be new, but our apparatus has been in place for years. Our primary concern is Palestinians who collaborate with the enemy, which we regard as one of the most dire problems facing the Palestinian nation. our enemies have dedicated themselves to luring as many Palestinians as possible down the path of collaboration. Many young men and women have fallen prey to the cunning traps laid by the [Israeli] Security Services.

Since our enemies are trying with all their might to obliterate our nation, cooperation with them is clearly a terrible crime. So our most important objective must be to put an end to the plague of collaboration. To do so, we abduct collaborators; intimidate and interrogate them in order to uncover other collaborators; and expose the methods that the enemy uses to lure Palestinians into collaboration in the first place. In addition to that, naturally, we confront the problem of collaborators by executing them.

...

In many cases, we don't have to make our evidence against collaborators public, because everyone knows that they're guilty. But when the public isn't aware that a certain individual is a collaborator, and we accuse him, people are bound to ask for evidence. Many people will proclaim his innocence, especially members of his family, his neighbors, and his friends, so there must be irrefutable proof before he is executed. This proof is usually obtained in the form of a confession.

At first, every collaborator denies his crimes. So we start off by showing the collaborator the testimony against him--written accounts of surveillance of his activities, taped accusations by other collaborators in his network. We tell him that he still has a chance to serve his people, even in the last moment of his life, by confessing and giving us the information we need.

We say that we know his repentance is sincere and that he has been a victim. That kind of talk is convincing. Most of them confess after that. Some others hold out; in those cases, we begin to apply pressure, both psychological and physical. Then the holdouts confess as well....

When we execute a collaborator in public, we use a gun. But after we abduct and interrogate a collaborator, we can't shoot him--to do so might give away our location. That's why collaborators are strangled. Sometimes we ask the collaborator, "What do you think? How should we execute you?" one collaborator told us, "Strangle me." He hated the sight of blood.

See how humane Hamas was back in their early days?