JERUSALEM, April 14 (UPI) -- A leader of the Palestinian Hamas organization has met with an al-Qaida fundraiser in Yemen, the Jerusalem Post reported Friday.
The meeting, two weeks ago at a fundraising event by the Hamas office in Yemen, was between Khaled Marshaal and Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, said by the United States to be a fundraiser for al-Qaida and a spiritual leader of Osama bin Laden.
The Jerusalem Post report said that at the event Zindani praised Hamas suicide bombers and urged people to donate money to the organization, whose political wing won recent Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and now control the Palestinian Authority government.
"The Hamas government is the Palestinian people's government today," Zindani said. "It is the jihad-fighting, steadfast, resolute government of Palestine."
Marshaal is a leader of Hamas in Damascus, the Syrian capital, which is the headquarters of Hamas' armed wing.
Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and current head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said the meeting between Marshaal and Zindani underscores commonality between the two groups.
"This meeting reinforces the fact that Hamas and al-Qaida come out of the same ideological well-spring of global jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood," the newspaper quoted Dore. "They still share the same financial structure to this day."
Senior Israeli Defense Force officials have said recently that al-Qaida has established cells in the Gaza Strip and was in the process of doing the same in the West Bank.
International aid to the Palestinian Authority, essential for the government's social services and operational expenses, is drying up following Hamas's political victory and its continued refusal to disavow anti-Israeli violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.
Zindani, who has also been a contact for the al-Qaida-linked Ansar al-Islam terror group, is a Yemini national and the founder of the Al Iman University in Sanaa, where American Taliban John Walker Lind studied before traveling to Afghanistan.