GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas leaders who seized control of the Gaza Strip last month say they've uncovered intelligence files that indicate that the Palestinian Authority was gathering information on Pakistan's nuclear program, storing sexual photographs of Palestinian leaders and tracking Islamist forces in other parts of the Middle East.
Hamas claims that the rival Fatah party led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was spying on behalf of the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies, and that the pictures were used to blackmail Palestinian leaders.
Abbas aides laughed off the claim as another futile attempt by Hamas to prevent itself from being politically isolated in the Gaza Strip.
"This would qualify our intelligence as very important regional intelligence," Abbas political adviser Yasser Abed Rabbo said with a laugh.
"Frankly, I don't waste my time with such people and such claims."
Hamas said the documents were among hundreds of files its fighters seized last month when they stormed the centers of power in Gaza, including intelligence offices and security headquarters.
Now, on the eve of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's latest diplomatic attempt to marginalize Hamas, the Islamist party is preparing to release selected documents in a bid to discredit Abbas and his Fatah allies.
Over the weekend, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar allowed a McClatchy Newspapers reporter to view briefly a few of the documents he pulled from a thick file with a Palestinian Authority logo. Several appeared to be memos, written in Arabic, on plain white paper with no government logo or date stamp, but it was impossible to determine if the documents were authentic.
Among the documents Zahar showed in his Gaza City home were three memos from the last nine months. One from last November states that Palestinian Authority sources were investigating Islamist forces in Yemen. A second from this past spring mentions the kidnapping of a Libyan citizen in Egypt. And the third from this spring talks about Palestinian sources collecting information on Pakistan's nuclear program.
"They became spies, collaborators with Western intelligence and collaborators against Palestinian interests," Zahar charged.
Zahar and Hamas leaders plan to make the documents Exhibit A in their effort to discredit Abbas, Mohammed Dahlan, the recently sidelined Fatah security aide, and other Palestinian Authority officials.
Still, Zahar and Ahmed Yousef, political adviser to deposed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said Hamas wasn't planning to release the material it found most shocking.
Both men said Hamas discovered graphic pictures of Palestinian leaders having sex with their wives or mistresses. The two said they suspect the photographs were used to blackmail the men, though there were no documents to substantiate such a claim, and they didn't offer the pictures to support the tawdry allegations.
Zahar said he was so repulsed by the photographs that he ordered their destruction.
The CIA has maintained clandestine ties to members of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Authority's predecessor, since the 1970s. And Palestinian officials over the years have provided intelligence on rival Arab and Islamist groups, including Hezbollah and al Qaida, and on Arab countries such as Libya and Iraq.
Yousef boasted that Hamas also had captured enough new weaponry that it wouldn't have to buy them on the black market any longer.
"Now we don't have to worry about smuggling guns," Yousef said. "We have enough M-16s and RPGs."