Salafi cleric reportedly released from Hamas prison

Jihadist forums and Facebook pages report that Sheikh Hussein al Jo’ayteni, a Salafi cleric, was recently released from a Hamas prison in the Gaza Strip. One Facebook page intended for relatives and friends of Salafi jihadists imprisoned by Hamas, which The Long War Journal profiled shortly after its launch in April 2013, announced al Jo’ayteni’s release on Aug. 7 and said that he entered and left a Hamas prison without being charged.

Al Joa’yteni was arrested by Hamas forces, according to the Ibn Taymiyyah Media Center (ITMC), a jihadist media unit tied to the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC), on June 11 in the Tel al Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City.

Two days after the ITMC reported the arrest, Hamas’ Interior Ministry confirmed it. The Interior Ministry did not fully explain why Jo’ayteni had been arrested, however.

In response to the statement from the Interior Ministry, the ITMC released a statement alleging that the Interior Ministry was publishing “fabrications.” On June 15, the aforementioned Facebook page issued a statement claiming that al Jo’ayteni was facing “physical and mental torture” in Hamas’ prisons.

The same statement denounced the “bullying practices” of Hamas forces against Salafis in the Gaza Strip, which it said were “a flagrant violation of all norms of human rights and democracy.” Hamas, the statement further charged, was responsible for the fate of al Jo’ayteni.

Also on June 15 the ITMC released a statement that accused Hamas of torturing al Jo’ayteni. Hamas is torturing al Jo’ayteni “day and night” in order to obtain information from him regarding Salafi groups in the Gaza Strip, the ITMC charged.

Three days later, the ITMC released a video of purported Salafi jihadists in Syria slamming Hamas’ recent actions against Salafi jihadists in the Gaza Strip. The video, which was recorded on June 15, mentioned the arrest of al Jo’ayteni and said he had been “unjustly detained.”

On June 20, Salafi jihadist supporters held a public demonstration in Gaza City denouncing Hamas’ recent arrests of Salafis, in particular al Jo’ayteni. This was followed by statements and videos from al Jo’ayteni’s father and wife calling for his release.

A couple of weeks later, the ITMC released a statement charging that torture by Hamas forces had caused al Jo’ayteni to sustain a broken pelvis and other injuries.

It is not clear what spurred Hamas to release al Jo’ayteni.

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