Security forces in Gaza located overnight Thursday the body of Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian member of the anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who had been kidnapped by Salafist Muslims earlier.
Hamas officials, who reported that Arrigoni’s body had been found, added that the body had been found in an abandoned home in Gaza.
Earlier, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency reported that Arrigoni’s kidnappers belong to A-Tawheed wal Jihad, a terror group of the Salafist Muslim stream. The kidnappers released a video showing Arrigoni bruised, tied and blindfolded, and text scrolling across the screen “threatens that he will die unless Hamas releases Salafist prisoners by 5 p.m. Friday.”
The organization wants Hamas to release all of the members of their organization who are currently jailed. Topping the list is a senior member of the group, Hisham al-Sa’adi.
Sources in Gaza told Voice of Israel state-run radio that Arrigoni has been living in Gaza for several years after arriving there on one of the Free Gaza boats.
Arrigoni writes a blog for for Guerrilla Radio and for communist newspaper Il Manifesto. During Israel’s Cast Lead counter terrorist offensive in Gaza, he wrote: “Israel has every right to laugh and sing, even while it massacres its neighbor. Palestinians are only asking to die a different death, one of old age.”
Kidnappings of foreigners are commonplace in Gaza. In the past year 14 such kidnappings have occurred. In each case the victim has been released after a short period of time and unharmed. The demands are not usually aimed at Hamas, however.
In Sufi and Shi’ite literature the term Salafi is interchangeable with the term Wahabi, but many Salafis reject the term as unfounded despite philosophical similarities. Wahabi Islam dominates the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and characterizes the philosophy of the al Qaeda international terrorist organization.
Both sects are a part of the Sunni orthodox mainstream.
Islamic organizations and terror groups in Gaza rushed to distance themselves from the murder-kidnapping of Italian ISM activist Vottorio Arrigoni.
Islamic terrorist organizations in Gaza decried the murder of Italian ISM activist Vittoria Arrigoni, who was kidnapped on Thursday. Arrigoni was found dead early Friday morning in the Strip.
Among those groups denouncing the murder was none other than Tawhid wal-Jihad, the al-Qaida-linked group who initially claimed responsibility for Arrigoni’s kidnapping. Tawhid wal-Jihad said they were holding an Italian national and said they would only release him if their leader, held in Hamas custody, was released.
Hamas security personnel found Arrigoni’s body in an abandoned house in Gaza following his abduction by ‘militants,’ a Hamas official said on Friday.
Two men were arrested and others were being sought in relation to Arrigoni’s murder, the official added
Hamas condemned the murder and characterized it as “a shameful act, contrary to the tradition of the Palestinian people.”
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, “the goal of this depraved band of outlaws is to spread chaos and anarchy in the Gaza Strip, a desperate attempt to strike at the stable security situation.”
Barhoum claimed the kidnapping and murder of Arrigoni was intended to scuttle the next Gaza flotilla, expected to depart next month. Barhoum explained that he believed the murder was meant to dissuade other foreign activists from arriving in the Strip.
In that vein, the Hamas spokesman accused Israel of perpetrating the murder noting Arrigoni had been a vocal opponent of Israel’s policies in Gaza, and frequently blogged about ‘Israeli crimes against Palestinians’ equating Israeli policies to ‘Nazi’ crimes. Arrigoni had also been arrested twice by Israeli authorities, Barhoum alleged.
Accusing Israel of acts perpetrated by the terrorist groups themselves is a time-honored tradition among Arab terror leaders in Israel.
Tawhid wal-Jihad, a Jihadist Salafi group in Gaza, had threatened on Thursday to execute Arrigoni by 5 p.m. local time (2 p.m. GMT) unless their demands were met.
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