Hamas official says North Korea is ally, insinuates it could one day target the US

Ali Barakeh claims deepening anti-US axis in Asia supporting the terror group, including Tehran, Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

People watch a TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missile launch with file image, at a train station in Seoul, South Korea, May 25, 2022. (AP/Lee Jin-man)
People watch a TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missile launch with file image, at a train station in Seoul, South Korea, May 25, 2022. (AP/Lee Jin-man)

A senior Hamas official claimed that North Korea is a member of Hamas’s alliance, and insinuated that it might one day seek to strike the United States.

Ali Barakeh, a member of Hamas’s exiled leadership based in Beirut, said in an interview with the Lebanese news channel Spot Shot last week that Hamas’s main state sponsor Iran does not have the military capabilities to attack America on its territory, but only its bases and ships in the Middle East.

Pyongyang, however, does have those capabilities, Barakeh noted, with reference to the latest developments in North Korea’s nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles that could deliver warheads as far as Washington DC.

“The day may come, when North Korea intervenes, because it is, after all, part of [our] alliance,” Barakeh said Thursday, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Evidence has emerged indicating that Hamas terrorists probably used North Korean weapons during their October 7 massacre in Israelis that killed over 1,400 people, suggesting possible support by the East Asian dictatorship for the terror group.

A video shot by Hamas members analyzed by two experts on North Korean arms, along with an Associated Press analysis of weapons captured on the battlefield and South Korean military intelligence, pointed to the use by Hamas of the F-7 rocket-propelled grenade, a shoulder-fired weapon that fighters typically use against armored vehicles.

Ali Barakeh, a member of Hamas’s exiled leadership, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 9, 2023 (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

“North Korea has long supported Palestinian [terror] groups, and North Korean arms have previously been documented amongst interdicted supplies,” weapons expert N.R. Jenzen-Jones told The Associated Press.

North Korea’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP. However, in the aftermath of the October 7 assault, North Korean state-run KCNA news agency dismissed claims that Hamas used its weapons as “a groundless and false rumor” orchestrated by the United States.

The Hamas official alleged a deepening alliance among anti-US actors.

“Today, all of America’s enemies – or all those shown enmity by the US – are growing closer. Today, Russia contacts us on a daily basis. The Chinese sent envoys to Doha, and China and Russia met with the leaders of Hamas. A Hamas delegation traveled to Moscow, and soon, a delegation will travel to Beijing,” Barakeh said.

Hamas representatives met with Russia’s Special Envoy for the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani in Moscow on October 26.

Suspected North Korean-made F-7 rocket-propelled grenades, many with a distinctive red stripe on their warhead, are seen at an Israeli military base in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. (Alon Bernstein/AP)

No official meetings have been reported between Chinese officials and Hamas leaders since the outbreak of the war. However, Zhai Jun, China’s special envoy to the Middle East, met with Bogdanov on October 19 in the Qatari capital Doha, home to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and other prominent members of the terror group’s leadership.

China has sought to present itself as a peace-seeking great power. It has refrained from describing the Hamas onslaught on Israel on October 7 as terrorism, and has criticized Israel for its perceived “collective punishment” of Gazan civilians.

Tuvia Gering, a researcher at the Israel-China Policy Center at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, described Beijing’s position as “pro-Palestine neutrality,” aimed at winning the support of Arab countries in light of Beijing’s abuse of Muslim Uighurs on its territory.

AP contributed to this report.

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