taha - AP - April 7 2010
Senior Hamas official Ayman Taha. Photo by AP
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A senior Hamas official, Ayman Taha, was suspended over allegations of corruption earlier this week, according to Palestinian sources in Gaza.

This is the first time in the history of the organization in which one of its senior officials was suspended from office, after it was revealed that he was involved in a case of money embezzlement.

Palestinian sources in Gaza told Haaretz that Taha, who is responsible for the organization's inter-factional relations, was suspended after it was revealed he stole a substantial amount of money from Hamas. According to the sources, Taha was also involved in additional "immoral" affairs.

In response to the claims, Taha told Haaretz that "the claims are completely inaccurate." A Hamas spokesperson in the Gaza strip, Fauzi Barhum, also said the story is a "complete lie." Barhum said that Taha is continuing to work as usual in his office.

Taha, in his forties, is one of Hamas's most prominent young leaders in the Gaza Strip. There are a number of stories about his apparent involvement in acts of corruption, owing to – among other reasons – his unusual appearance compared to other Hamas leaders.

Taha, who has earned the nickname, "Hamas' Dahlan," tends to wear expensive suits and it has been claimed that he cuts his hair in a "secular style." In addition to the accusations of embezzlement, negative reports about his personal life have also been circulating in the Gaza Strip.

In March 2003, Taha was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces. He was released from prison after three years and returned to work as a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip.

Since being released from prison, Taha's status was upgraded and he is currently considered one of the organization's head officials in the Gaza Strip.