Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 7

The Jerusalem Post reported on February 13 that Israeli government officials have been circulating a document putatively “showing Hamas’ links to Chechen terrorists,” in an attempt “to influence Russian public opinion against President Vladimir Putin’s overtures to Hamas” – a reference to the Russian president’s recent invitation of Hamas leaders to visit Moscow. According to the newspaper, the document is a “pamphlet” put out by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, which it describes as “an information project sponsored by an NGO set up in memory of fallen members of the Israeli intelligence community.” The pamphlet opens by stating that “Hamas support for the Chechen separatists and their terrorist tactics did not prevent it from immediately accepting” Putin’s invitation to visit. It states further that Hamas “is completely hostile to the Russian regime in that it identifies with the Chechen separatists, regarding them as part of the global jihad, and supports them in their terrorist activities.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, the pamphlet claims that posters, CDs and movies supporting “the Chechen terrorists” have been found in Hamas offices, and Hamas has “even allowed the Chechen terrorists to use its Internet site,, to provide its suicide bombing attacks with religious Islamic sanction.” The pamphlet also states that Hamas “customarily distributes its anti-Russian incitement CDs (full of hate propaganda and incitement to acts of terrorism) in educational institutions in the PA-administered territories as part of the battle for the hearts and minds of the younger Palestinian generation.” The CDs, entitled “The Russian Hell,” were distributed in 2003 and 2004 to the American University in Jenin, the Hebron University and the Hebron Orphan Asylum, the pamphlet states, adding that Hamas has expressed admiration for Chechen terrorists in its posters and videos, while the Russian army “is blasted and its actions are referred to as ‘terrorist activities against the Islamic population in Chechnya.'”

The pamphlet depicts a poster showing a picture of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin next to those of Khattab, the Saudi-born Chechen rebel leader killed in 2002, Osama bin Laden and Shamil Basaev, accompanied by the words “Chechnya, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Kashmir, Palestine and Lebanon,” and a quote attributed to a companion of Muhammad who said Islam would “continue to exist in those regions of the world where Muslims are a minority living in a hostile environment.”

The separatist Chechenpress news agency, for its part, ran a short but bitterly sarcastic item on an interview that the chairman of Hamas’ politburo, Khaled Meshaal, gave to Nezavisimaya gazeta that was published in the newspaper’s February 13 edition. Chechenpress quoted a section of the interview in which the Hamas leader said: “For us, it was an honor to receive the invitation from Mr. Putin. We will soon answer that invitation and there is no reason to doubt that Hamas’ response will be positive. Russia is the first country of the ‘Middle East Quartet’ to have shown respect for the choice made by Palestinians and has once again mentioned that it does not consider Hamas to be an extremist or terrorist movement. We very much appreciate such a position.”

Commenting on Meshaal’s warm words for Putin and the Russian government, Chechenpress wrote: “The leader of the Hamas movement Khaled Meshaal is terribly glad of his good relations with Putin, the ringleader of terrorist organizations and the murderer of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chechens.”