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Funeral of slain Hamas leader to be held in Jordan

June 28, 2012 2:24 P.M. (Updated: June 30, 2012 10:44 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The funeral of a Hamas member assassinated in Syria will be held in Jordan, Hamas officials said Thursday.

Kamal Ghanaja, known as Nizar Abu Mujahed, was killed in his Damascus home on Wednesday. Ghanaja's family are heading to Jordan to attend his funeral, which will not be held in Syria because of the unrest, Hamas sources in Syria told Ma'an.

The Supreme Council of the Syrian Revolution said in a statement that Ghanaja's body was found in his home in Damascus' Al-Yarmouk refugee camp with clear signs of torture, including cigarette burns. Ghanaja's belongings -- including his laptop, weapons and money -- were not stolen, the council said.

The Beirut-based satellite channel Al-Mayadeen reported that Hamas was waiting for a forensic report before responding to the assassination.

In a statement in Gaza, Hamas did not immediately accuse Israel of involvement in Ghanaja's death, saying only that it had launched an investigation "to identify the party behind the deplorable crime".

A Hamas source in Gaza said "there were marks of torture" on Ghanaja's body. Hamas did not disclose his role in the movement but said he "spent his life working for the sake of God" within its ranks. One Hamas source described Ghanaja as a mid-level military official.

Several websites affiliated to the opposition to President Bashar Assad blamed the Syrian regime for Ghanaja's killing and said Assad's forces murdered the Hamas leader as a message to the movement not to reject its long-time ally.

Hamas' politburo moved to Damascus in 1999 after it was expelled from Jordan, but many of the party's top officials quietly quit the Syrian capital amid the 16-month bloody revolt against Assad. In February, Hamas leaders publicly denounced Assad and declared their support for Syrian rebels.

Asked about reports of Ghanaja's death, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israeli Army Radio: "He was not really personally familiar (to me). According to all the background published, he was no saint and I don't want to add anything or comment about this incident."

Israel's Mossad intelligence service is widely believed to have been behind the assassination in Dubai in 2010 of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a top Hamas commander. Israel, sticking to a policy of "ambiguity" on Mossad operations, refused to confirm or deny its agents killed him.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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