Hardliner Zaki Bani Rsheid was chosen Friday as secretary general of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, an official of the organization said. Bani Rsheid narrowly defeated moderate Salem Falahat in vote taken by the Brotherhood’s Consultative Council, the official told the German Press Agency dpa on condition of anonymity. The choice, which caught political observers by surprise, is expected to put the country’s Islamists once again on a collision course with the government, political sources said. Bani Rsheid was forced to step down as IAF secretary general in May 2009 when he was replaced by the moderate academic Ishaq Farhan in a bid to mend fences with the government, the sources added. The Consultative Council also agreed to “sever administrative links” with the Palestinian radical group Hamas, currently in control of the Gaza Strip, the Brotherhood official said. However, he denied reports the choice of Bani Rsheid was “a compromise” to please “hawks” in return for agreeing to end the controversial affiliation with Hamas that threatened to undermine the Brotherhood’s unity. The Muslim Brotherhood is Jordan’s key opposition political gathering.