(Reuters) - The leader of a little-known radical Islamist group was killed in clashes with Hamas policemen after he defied the rulers of the Gaza Strip by declaring an “Islamic emirate” in the Palestinian territory.
Here are five facts about Jund Ansar Allah (“Warriors of God”):
* Jund Ansar Allah announced its presence in Gaza two months ago after three of its members were killed in a border raid on an Israeli base in which gunmen rode on horseback.
* It has criticized Hamas for failing to establish strict Islamic law and espouses a pan-Arab militancy aligned with al Qaeda. Its leader Abdel-Latif Moussa, a physician and cleric in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah who is known to followers as Abu al-Nour al-Maqdessi, declared an “emirate,” or Islamic rule, on August 14. Hamas forces attacked later that day.
* Little is known about the extent of the group’s popularity among Gazans and its military capabilities. Some 100 masked fighters of the group listened to Moussa’s sermon at a mosque in Rafah. Many wore Pakistani or Afghan-style dress, wearing their hair long in a style believed to imitate the prophet Mohammad.
* The Hamas-run Interior Ministry says a Syrian national of Palestinian origin, Khaled Banat, known as Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir, was among fighters killed in the clashes at Rafah.
* A spokesman for Hamas’s Gaza-based government has called members of Jund Ansar Allah “outlaws,” blaming them for a series of attacks against Palestinians, including bombings of Internet cafes, seen as a source of immorality, and of a wedding party.