The Tawhid and Jihad fundamentalist Salafist group in Gaza, claimed it has no connection with the murder of Italian peace activist, Vittorio Arriogoni, whose body was found hanged on Friday at dawn.
The group published a statement on the internet claiming that it had no connection with the death of Arrigoni, yet stated that what happened is “a natural outcome of the practices of the Hamas-led government against Salafist groups in Gaza”.
The body of Arriogoni was found in an area, north-west of Gaza city. The group, or an affiliated group, initially published a video on YouTube of Arrigoni before he was murdered.
Arriogoni entered Gaza with an aid convoy in 2008, and showed utmost passion to the Palestinians and their struggle against the Israeli occupation.
He was one of a few international reporters and activists who were in Gaza during Israeli Cast Lead offensive in late December 2009, especially since Israel prevented foreign reporters from entering the besieged enclave.
The Hamas movement in Gaza strongly denounced that killing of the Italian activist and described it as a shameful and a dangerous terrorist attack.
Hamas spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoum, stated in a press release on Friday morning that the group behind the murder is acting on creating chaos and insecurity in the streets of Gaza, and accused it of attempting to sabotage the strong ties between the Palestinian people and their supporters around the world.
Barhoum stated that this outlawed group is acting in accordance with the enemies of the Palestinian people and their cause.
The International Solidarity Movement, ISM, expressed shock and deep sadness after hearing the news of Arrigoni’s murder. The ISM described Arrigoni as an inspiring activist and a generous soul.
The Tawhid and Jihad Salafist fundamentalist group has Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, as one of its main sworn enemies, and went into several gun battles with Hamas fighters and members of the Hamas-led security forces in Gaza.
The group is responsible for several previous abductions and for killing Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip.
In its video, the group demanded Hamas, and Prime Minister of the dissolved government in Gaza Ismail Haniyya, to release all “mujahedin held in Gaza jails” in exchange for releasing the activist.
In August 2009, Hamas’ security forces cracked down of Salafist extremist groups in Gaza and killed 26 members of the group and its leader.
The group also blasted the car of a Hamas leader outside of his home in Gaza. Its members are also believed responsible for several bombings of internet coffee shops in Gaza.
The Salafists believe that Hamas failed to impose Islamic law in the Gaza Strip and blamed the group for maintaining a ceasefire with Israel.