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An alleged al-Qaida claim this week the global terror network fired rockets at Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip does not match evidence found in the actual rocket attack, WND has learned.
A group claiming to be “Al-Qaida-Palestine, Jihad Brigades in the Border Land,” announced Tuesday the establishment of a cell in the Gaza Strip. The group said it carried out an attack last Saturday using a new kind of rocket – the Sinjal – against Neve Dekalim, the largest community in Gaza’s Gush Katif slate of Jewish neighborhoods.
The announcement was made by videotape on websites previously used by al-Qaida to claim responsibility for terror operations, including recent bombings in London and Madrid.
“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.
Ami Shaked, security coordinator for Gaza’s Gush Katif slate of Jewish communities, told WND Sinjal rockets were not used in last Saturday’s attack.
“The rockets were no different from all the rockets we are seeing,” Shaked said. “The claim of a different kind of rocket is not true.”
Shaked’s team of civilian security agents often are the first responders to rocket and shooting attacks in Gush Katif. Shaked was wounded last month while responding to a shooting attack near the Katif entrance that killed two Israelis. He personally inspects most rockets and mortars fired at Gush Katif, checking for any advances in rocket components and construction.
Shaked said while Sinjals were not fired, the Qassam rockets fired at Katif the past month have become more deadly.
“There was a major increase in the deadly components of the Qassams. These new ones are meant to have a bigger explosion and also send more metal fragments shooting off in different directions to kill more people,” Shaked said.
A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces told WND the army and Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services are investigating the al-Qaida claim of setting up shop in Gaza.
Senior military sources could not confirm the presence of al-Qaida in Gaza. They said it is not the global network’s “style” to carry out small-scale rocket and mortar attacks, but said Palestinian groups with ties to Al-Qaida may be active in the area.
Last week’s announcement was not the first time al-Qaida claimed a presence in the Gaza Strip.
A group calling itself Jundallah or “Allah’s Brigade” claimed in May it set up shop in the area. The new terror group is said to consist mainly of former Hamas and Islamic Jihad members who believe Palestinian terror groups have become too moderate. Jundallah says it has close ties to al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
Palestinian Authority officials told reporters the establishment of Jundallah confirmed suspicions al-Qaida is attempting to gain a foothold in Gaza ahead of Israel’s withdrawal.
Also, a Palestinian with Canadian citizenship was arrested in 2003 on suspicion of having been sent by an international jihad group to Israel to carry out terror attacks.
In June 2000, the Shin Bet arrested Nabil Ukal, a Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip, who was convicted of attempting to create an Al-Qaida network in Gaza. Ukal reportedly admitted during interrogation to attending Islamic extremist training camps in Afghanistan, and was in contact with Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, whom the IDF assassinated in 2004.
Even if Al-Qaida is not currently in Gaza, analysts are warning Israel’s Aug. 17 withdrawal will create conditions that would make Gaza a safe haven for the terror network.
Yaacov Amidror, former chief of research for Israeli military intelligence, told WND, “It’s becoming clear Hamas will take over Gaza when Israel leaves. Today, one of the weaknesses of al-Qaida is its lack of a safe haven in the Middle East. The new realities in Gaza will make it one of the most convenient places for al-Qaida to base their global operations. The Gaza Strip will become a paradise because it will be area in which the population and the terror groups in power, especially Hamas, share the same ideology as al-Qaida – to rebuild the Islamic system, the Caliphate, around the world.”