Hamas Denies Terrorist Leader’s Expulsion From Qatar

DOHA (Reuters) -

The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Tuesday denied reports that its exiled political leader, Khaled Meshaal, had been expelled from Qatar.

The U.S. news network CNN quoted what it said was a Hamas-run news agency, which it did not name, on Tuesday as saying Meshaal and members of the Muslim Brotherhood had been expelled from Qatar, and that they were most likely headed to Turkey.

“There is no truth to what some media outlets have published over the departure by Khaled Meshaal from Doha,” Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq told Reuters by telephone.

Another Hamas source confirmed that Meshaal was still in Doha and has no plans to leave the Gulf Arab country.

Qatar, which hosts a number of Islamist leaders — including those of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Meshaal, the exiled head of the Hamas politburo — has been under pressure from fellow Gulf states to reduce its support for radical Islamist groups.

The Qatari Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry hailed initial reports of Meshaal’s expulsion: “The Israeli Foreign Ministry welcomes Qatar’s decision to expel Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’a politburo chief, to Turkey,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Foreign Ministry, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, advanced various moves over the past year in order to bring about a situation whereby Qatar would take this step and stop aiding Hamas, directly and indirectly.”