Hamas arrests Salafi sheikh in Gaza over IS ties

Palestinian Hamas militants rally in the streets of the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip on December 25, 2009 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Gaza's Hamas-run security services have arrested a radical Salafist sheikh, accusing him of membership in the Islamic State (IS) group, a security source said on Monday.

"Adnan Khader Mayat from the Bureij refugee camp (in central Gaza) was arrested as part of an investigation," the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving further details.

Sources close to the Salafists said Mayat had been arrested on Sunday "by the Hamas government security services who fight mujahedeen who belong to the Salafist movement."

Hamas forces have in the past cracked down hard on Salafist groups in the coastal enclave.

In a separate statement, sources close to Salafists who are currently being held behind bars accused the Islamist movement of "continuing its raids among our brothers and sons," denouncing the recent arrest of their two younger members.

"These actions will lead to an escalation which nobody wants," it warned.

In recent months, there have been a number statements claiming minor attacks that were signed by "the Islamic State-Gaza governorate" but most were dismissed on jihadist forums.

So far, no Gaza-based movement has declared its allegiance with the IS movement, experts say, although they say such claims show a desire on the part of local factions to be included in the IS fold.

They also point to a growing loss of control by the Gaza authorities and the growth of radical elements, who have become increasingly visible since last summer's deadly 50-day war with Israel.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting