Hamas Says Close to Finding Suspected Killers of Italian Peace Activist

Gaza police post pictures of suspects on official website; suspects said to belong to small extremist Islamic group identified with al-Qaida called 'Salafi Jihad.'

Gaza's Hamas government said Monday it was searching for three suspects in last week's killing of the Italian peace activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, in the Gaza Strip, adding that they believed they were close to finding the killers.

"We have lots of information and I believe that we are not far from reaching the killers in the nearest time possible ... We have all information," said Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas government official.

 Italian activist Vittorio Utmpio Arrigoni holds his passport during a protest in Gaza

Hamas police posted pictures of the suspects on its official website. The three men are said to belong to a small extremist Islamic group identified with al-Qaida called "Salafi Jihad."

The suspects include Bilal Al-Omari and Mahmoud El-Salfiti, both Gaza residents. A third suspect is Abd al-Rahman Al-Omari, a Jordanian who travels with false citizenship under the name Mouhmad Hasan.
An additional two suspects have already been arrested by Hamas.

The body of 36-year-old Arrigoni, active in the International Solidarity Movement with the Palestinians (ISM), was found hanging last week in an abandoned house in Gaza.

The kidnapping was made public on Thursday night, when the group uploaded a video to You Tube. The video showed Arrigoni after he had been beaten, with music and the words to an Islamic prayer playing in the background.

After a symbolic Gaza funeral on Monday, Arrigoni's body will be transferred to neighboring Egypt and then to Italy.