WASHINGTON — As Israel plans a unilateral withdrawal of all Jews from the Gaza Strip this fall, al-Qaida operatives are reportedly ready to move in.
Al-Qaida’s presence, in the name of “The Jihad Brigades in the Promised Land,” was announced on an Islamic website known to be friendly to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.
The group claimed responsibility for mortar and rocket attacks against Jewish communities in Gaza.
The al-Qaida affiliate boasted of using a new rocket called the Sajil.
“The Brigades are not a new organization but merely a spirit of faith pushing the jihad fighters in the promised land to close ranks behind an honest and uncompromising leadership,” the announcement said.
Al-Qaida is known to have a working relationship with Hamas, the most active terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.
The news of an al-Qaida presence in Gaza did not shock Israeli military officials, one of whom has already drawn up a battle plan to take on bin Laden’s group, as reported last week in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The plan is now being studied by military and intelligence leaders by other nations involved in the war against Islamic terrorism.
In an internal briefing General Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, Israel’s army intelligence chief, said terrorist network could actually be decreased by 70 percent within three years.
Farkash based his analysis on a comprehensive intelligence study of al-Qaida’s structure and its goals with particular emphasis on bin Laden.
According to Farkash, al-Qaida is in the process of shifting its operational interests from Pakistan and Afghanistan, the two countries which, until the American intervention in 2003, were the organizations’ logistical and material backbone, toward Africa, especially North Africa, eventually aiming at increasing jihadi activity in Europe.
Farkash’s assessment is supported by evaluations from other army, Mossad and General Security Service officers. All three organizations agree al-Qaida’s far-reaching activity, as well as that of other groups loosely linked, should be of prime interest to Israel in addition to the decades-long war against Muslim terrorist groups within and outside of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority.
Israel has been anticipating that groups such as the Islamic Jihad-Palestine, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad will be drawn into broader cooperation with al-Qaida. All of these organizations have well-established cells in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and ties to radical Israeli Muslim centers.
Israel’s need to move to the forefront of fighting al-Qaida has to do with the fact that European jihadists, such as captured “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid and some of the terrorists involved in the latest attacks in London, had visited Israel on intelligence reconnaissance missions prior to their attacks. Other homegrown British terrorists entered Israel via the territories and were involved in terrorist attacks on a Tel Aviv pub called Mike’s Place in April 2003 a few meters from the entrance to the U.S. Embassy on Ha’Yarkon Street.
In addition to sharing information with other nations involved in the war against al-Qaida, Israel may also carry out operations against operatives wherever they are to be found.
In the past Israel has launched all-out worldwide war against PLO and Hezbollah operatives. These operations included pin-pointed attacks on individuals, usually without taking public responsibility, but leaving identifying “business cards” telling the terrorists the most daring intelligence community in fighting Arab terrorist militancy was behind the attacks.
For years PLO leaders lived in fear knowing no place was safe as Israeli agents hunted them down even in Arab capitals.