RAMALLAH, June 16 (JMCC) - The leader of an Islamist group in the Gaza Strip is interviewed about its involvement in the April kidnapping and killing of Italian Vittorio Arrigoni.
The leader of Tawhid wal Jihad denies in an interview
translated from il Manifesto
that his group carried out the attack, blaming it instead on fringe elements. He says he believes that the kidnappers were ill-prepared and nervous, which resulted in the early slaying of the Italian activist.
You deny to have played any role in the kidnapping and assassination of Vittorio Arrigoni, yet you are still being accused of that.
Someone wants to involve us at all costs in this affair, but Tawhid wal Jihad did not in any way plan or participate in the kidnapping of the Italian. Our denial was immediate, from the very start we made it clear that the kidnappers were not part of our Jihad project. Those young men used our name because it is known and they wanted to gain some attention.
Yet, the Jordanian, Abdel Rahman Breizat, the mind behind the kidnapping, was close to your organisation.
Yes, but only up to a certain point. Many of our combatants knew him. He was a religious young man who wanted to make Palestine the starting place of a new rebirth of Islam, for the victory of the Jihad in dar al Islam. But he never was part of the structure of Tawhid wal Jihad, he was external to us and everything he did he organised together with his friends (those of the kidnapping of Vittorio, author’s note) and without our knowledge.
But you personally knew Breizat?
Certainly, because as soon as he arrived in Gaza (at the start of 2010, author’s note) he immediately made contact with the salafiyya (the al Qaeda cell of Gaza that follows Salafist thought, author’s note). I remember that I spoke with him more than once, of the greatness of the prophet (Mohammed, author’s note) and of the duties of Muslims. He dwelled very much on the lack of respect by the Islamic peoples of the precepts of the Qur’an and of the teachings of the prophet. The indifference of many Muslims towards religion irritated him.
But what did Vittorio Arrigoni have to do with any of that? He was not a Muslim…
I think that the kidnapping of the Italian was used by Breizat and his comrades in order to affirm the existence of his cell, of his group. In exchange for his liberation he asked for the release of Sheikh al Saidani, unjustly arrested only for having spoken in the name of Islam. Breizat set up a spectacular operation to get some attention for himself.