Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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6 Teves 5763 - December 11, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Al-Qaida Targets All Jews Everywhere
by Yated Ne'eman Staff and Mordecai Plaut

Al-Qaida has set its sights on Jewish and Israeli targets around the world, planning to strike by "land, sea, and air," according to a statement attributed to the group's spokesman that was broadcast last Sunday.

An audio tape played on Al-Jazeera TV and attributed to al- Qaida spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheith, charges that "the Jewish- Crusader coalition will not be safe anywhere from the fighters' attacks. We will hit the most vital centers and we will strike against its strategic operations with all possible means.

"We will chase the enemy using the weapon of terror by widening fighting fronts and conducting more concentrated and faster operations . . . so [the enemy] feels unsafe and unstable on land, air, and sea," said the message, which came as security sources confirmed "a specific warning" of a threat to Israeli and Jewish targets in Prague.

In Washington, a White House official said the statement amounted to no more than a "same song, different day" threat.

The message also contains an "official" statement of responsibility for the suicide attack in Mombasa on November 28, which killed 10 Kenyans and three Israelis and a failed attack on an Israeli civilian airliner.

The message, whose text also appeared on several al-Qaida Web sites, also issued a threat of a massive strike against the US. One al-Qaida-affiliated Web site also posted a picture purported to be that of Abu Gheith.

Col. (res.) Yoni Fighel, of the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism, has studied what he calls the mushrooming of al-Qaida affiliated Web sites, calling them "one of the greatest nightmares of globalization."

Through these Web sites, which are multiplying with each successful al-Qaida attack, cell members from disparate parts of the world can transmit messages, encouragement, and information, free of charge and with little risk of being caught.

Fighel believes al-Qaida's momentum is snowballing, especially given the ever-quickening pace of the loosely- affiliated group's claims of responsibility for attacks and its threats.

The Israel Foreign Ministry has issued a travel advisory warning for Israelis traveling in Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Africa, Kenya, and certain areas of Thailand.

The Israeli security establishment believes that activists from Al-Qaida in Lebanon are running Palestinian terrorists based in Gaza. Also, the first Palestinian to be charged by Israel with undergoing training in an Al-Qaida base in Afghanistan has confessed to most of the charges against him.

Military Intelligence believes that despite the American operations in Afghanistan, Al-Qaida operatives are still active there and are involved in trying to establish terrorist cells in the territories. Their main route is through Lebanon.

Investigations into the recent attacks on the Paradise Hotel and the Arkia plane in Mombasa are pointing to the possibility of joint operation by Hizbullah and al-Qaida.

Such an alliance between rival wings of the Islamic movement had previously been thought unlikely, but the Sunday Telegraph of London reports that investigators in Mombasa have uncovered "a number of clues" that suggest al-Qaida is working with Hizbullah to attack American and Israeli targets around the world.

According to the report, the al-Qaida terrorists responsible for the suicide bombing at the hotel used the same techniques as those developed by Hizbullah in the 1980s.

Investigators also discovered that the two missiles fired at the Arkia airliner are of the same type used by Hizbullah to attack Israeli targets. They also noted that the only claim for responsibility for the Mombasa attacks was made on a Hizbullah radio station.

A military source in Israel downplayed those reports due to the organizations' divergent religious affiliations: al-Qaida is Sunni and Hizbullah is Shi'ite but could not rule it out.

Particular interest is now focused on the personal links between Osama bin Laden and Imad Mugniyeh, the Hizbullah terrorist who masterminded some of its most spectacular atrocities and kidnappings in Lebanon. He appears on the FBI's 10 most-wanted list for orchestrating attacks against US targets in Lebanon.

The Sunday Telegraph also noted that between 80 and 100 al-Qaida fighters who fled into Iran were provided with false passports by Hizbullah before being relocated in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. At least 10 senior al-Qaida commanders are also believed to have been sent to Lebanon, where they work closely with Hizbullah commanders in the Bekaa Valley.

The American magazine Vanity Fair recently wrote that al-Qaida has established a base on the Argentine border close to the point where Hizbullah terrorists planned the 1993 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.

While al-Qaida has been linked to the bombing of a discotheque in Bali in October, the Sunday Telegraph reports that Hizbullah is also known to have set up cells in the Far East, notably in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.


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