The mystery surrounding the assassination of Hamas official Kamal Ranaja in Damascus on Wednesday has yet to be resolved, but media outlets released new details Thursday shedding light on the life of the man who replaced Mahmoud al-Mabhouh and was claimed to be a key player in the organization's military wing.
According to reports, between 12 and 24 hours passed before Ranaja's body was discovered. Several eyewitnesses have reported that the house was torched by the assassins, but neighbors claim only the kitchen and entrance were set on fire.
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The house in which Ranaja was assassinated belonged to his family, and neighbors said that he did not frequent it often.
An Arab news agency quoted a senior Hamas operative as saying that Ranaja survived several attempts on his life in Damascus and Beirut due to the extreme security measures that he took. According to the official, Ranaja had deep connections with Syria's security apparatus, as well as with Hezbollah and authorities in Iran.
A delegation of Hamas officials headed by Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal arrived Thursday afternoon in Jordan in order to attend Ranaja's funeral. The high profile event strengthens the claim that Ranaja held a high position in the terror organization.
Mashaal. Came for the funeral (Photo: AFP)
Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Risaq said that the group will launch a probe into the circumstances of Ranaja's death. "It's still too early to put the blame on this side or the other and we don't want to make any mistakes," he said, adding that all options are being investigated, whether it was an assassination, an accident or murder.
Meanwhile, Arab media outlets reported that Hamas decided to maintain silent regarding Ranaja's assassination until it receives the forensic report detailing the cause of death.
Hamas officials have remained vague vis-à-vis Ranaja's role in the organization, saying only that his blood was not spilled in vain. Al-Rishaq on his part posted a picture on his Facebook page of Ranaja on the backdrop of al-Aqsa mosque with the caption: "The martyr commander Kamal Ranaja."
Ranaja, also known as Nizar Abu Mujhad, was born in 1967 and was married with five children.
The Syrian opposition claimed President Bashar Assad's regime was responsible for Ranaja's assassination.
One opposition activist, a former journalist, said Assad's regime ordered the hit. She claimed Ranaja was tortured before he was killed.
According to her, the hit was a message to Hamas, which turned its back on Assad following the violent crackdown on the opposition.
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