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Smuggled Hamas arms came from Syria: Jordan

Written by: Staff

Amman, Apr 20: Prime Minister Marouf Bakheet told a meeting of parliamentarians that weapons seized from a secret Hamas arms cache in Jordan had been smuggled from Syria, deputies said today.

Bakheet gave no details to Islamist deputies when he met them late yesterday on how the weapons, which authorities say were recently discovered, had reached Jordan from Syria, where the Palestinian militant group's exiled leadership is based.

Azzam Huneidi, the head of the 17-member Islamic Action Front bloc in the 110-seat assembly, said Bakheet declined to elaborate beyond saying the arms cache which contained rocket launchers and highly combustible explosives ''came from Syria''.

Jordan's Islamist opposition and independent politicians are sceptical about Jordan's announcement on Tuesday that Hamas, which took power last month after winning Palestinian general elections in January, had sought to destabilise the kingdom.

They say it was a pretext to severe ties with Hamas, whose leaders have had a rocky relationship over the years with the pro-US ally.

The movement's politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, a Jordanian citizen, was expelled in 1999 along with other leaders after a major crackdown on the group following accusations of illegal activities.

Bakheet also told deputies but without giving details that the smuggling and storing of weapons by Hamas was one of several attempts that had been foiled by Jordanian intelligence in the past.

The senior Jordanian official evaded questions by deputies on whether the authorities had detained any activists.

''He only said the investigations were ongoing,'' Huneidi said.

The militant group has a large following in refugee camps across Jordan, a country which hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees outside the West Bank and Gaza.

Jordanian officials privately support US-led efforts to isolate the Hamas government diplomatically and financially unless it embraces West Asia peacemaking.


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