JERUSALEM – The Hamas terrorist organization is strongly considering issuing an official statement claiming it doesn't endorse any U.S. presidential candidate and that remarks made by an official supportive of Sen. Barack Obama were "misunderstood," a top Hamas leader told WND.
Other Hamas sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the terror group "understands" praise for Obama last month from Ahmed Yousef, Hamas' chief political advisor in the Gaza Strip, is harming the Illinois senator.
In an interview with WND and WABC Radio last month, Yousef said he "hopes" Obama becomes president and compared the Illinois senator to President John F. Kennedy.
"We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the elections," said Yousef.
"I hope Mr. Obama and the Democrats will change the political discourse. ... I do believe [Obama] is like John Kennedy, a great man with a great principal. And he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with humiliation and arrogance," Yousef said, speaking from Gaza.
Yousef was not asked which presidential candidate he supports. He volunteered his endorsement in response to a question inquiring whether he was surprised Obama and other presidential candidates criticized Jimmy Carter's recent meetings with Hamas.
Yousef's endorsement has become a top theme in the presidential campaign, with Sen. John McCain and Obama repeatedly trading barbs over the Hamas official's comments.
While the terror group appears likely to release a clarification statement regarding Yousef's support of Obama, Yousef today still implied he favored Obama over McCain.
"The Americans should reach the conclusion from the positions of McCain that while part of the Americans and the international community are seeking to speak with Hamas, McCain is attacking this position and is calling us terrorists," Yousef said in response to a reporter's query.
Obama also has repeatedly condemned Hamas as terrorists. But earlier this week the Democratic candidate said in an interview he understands why Hamas supports his presidential bid.
"It's conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, 'This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he's not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush,'" Obama told the Atlantic magazine.
"That's a perfectly legitimate perception as long as they're not confused about my unyielding support for Israel's security," the Illinois senator said.
In the Atlantic interview, Obama was asked what he thought of the Hamas leader's praise.
"My position on Hamas is indistinguishable from the position of Hillary Clinton or John McCain," he responded. "I said they are a terrorist organization, and I've repeatedly condemned them. I've repeatedly said, and I mean what I say: Since they are a terrorist organization, we should not be dealing with them until they recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and abide by previous agreements."
Obama insisted he has been "very adamant about Israel's right to defend itself" and vowed to maintain America's strong ties to the Jewish state, if elected.
The senator said he welcomed "the Muslim world's accurate perception that I am interested in opening up dialogue and interested in moving away from the unilateral policies of George Bush, but nobody should mistake that for a softer stance when it comes to terrorism or when it comes to protecting Israel's security or making sure that the alliance is strong and firm. You will not see, under my presidency, any slackening in commitment to Israel's security."