Salafi Leader ‘Detained in Gaza’

Hamas security forces have arrested a senior Salafi sheikh who was injured in June in an Israeli airstrike, a Salafi leader said Friday.

Sheikh Abu Suhaib Rashwan was detained Wednesday as he left a hospital, where he was recovering from wounds sustained on June 20 in Israeli shelling on the southern Gaza Strip, Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir said in a statement.

Al-Mujajir said Hamas forces had cracked down on Salafis in Gaza since an attack in Egypt’s Sinai in which 16 Egyptian officers were killed on Aug. 5. Several Salafis have been summoned for interrogation since the incident, he said.

"We are not responsible for the Sinai attack," he said, adding that jihadi Salafis in Gaza aimed "to fight Israel."

Salafi Jihadi, the biggest jihadist group in Sinai, has also denied involvement in the incident.

"We have never raised our weapons against the Egyptian army," the group said in a statement Thursday, adding that its true fight was with the "Zionist enemy," Israel.

The statement said other jihadist groups, which it did not name, were behind past attacks on Sinai’s gas pipeline that delivers gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan.

The group also said Sinai jihadists had fired rockets at Israel in the last few year. Egypt had repeatedly denied that rockets had ever been fired from Sinai into Israel.

In Gaza, Hamas has launched several crackdowns on armed salafi groups since it took control of the enclave in 2007, notably following attacks on women and Christians.

In 2009, Hamas raided a mosque and killed 28 people after a Salafi imam declared an Islamic emirate in Gaza.


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