Edited by Alex Constantine
Palestinians arrest al-Qaeda 'poseurs'
December 8 2002
Palestinian security forces have arrested a group of Palestinians for collaborating with Israel and posing as operatives of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network, a senior official said yesterday.
The arrests come two days after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon charged al-Qaeda militants were operating in Gaza and in Lebanon.
"The Palestinian Authority arrested a group of collaborators who confessed they were working for Israel, posing as al-Qaeda operatives in the Palestinian territories," said the official, on condition of anonymity.
He said the alleged collaborators sought to "discredit the Palestinian people, justify every Israeli crime and provide reasons to carry out a new (military) aggression in the Gaza Strip."
The official did not say how many suspects had been arrested, nor where or when they were nabbed.
Earlier, international cooperation minister Nabil Shaath announced he would hold a press conference here on the alleged presence of al-Qaeda operatives in the Gaza Strip.
Sharon's announcement marked the first time Israel officially claimed that al-Qaeda, held responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, was operating in the Palestinian territories.
It was considered a surprise because the Gaza Strip is virtually sealed off by Israeli troops.
The hardline Israeli leader also charged other members of the terror group were cooperating with Lebanon's Shi'ite militia Hizbollah.
The Palestinians slammed the allegation as "totally absurd" and accused Sharon of trying to piggyback on the US-led "war against terrorism" to strengthen his military operations against militants in the territories.
Both the Lebanese government and Hizbollah made similar statements.
A US citizen of Syrian descent was arrested last month at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv on suspicion of transferring funds to terrorist organisations in general, and those connected to al-Qaeda in particular.
Three Israelis and 10 Kenyans were killed in a suicide attack on a hotel near the Kenyan port of Mombasa last Thursday, shortly after missiles narrowly missed an Israeli charter flight taking off from there with 261 passengers.
The attacks were purportedly claimed by al-Qaeda on an Islamic website.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships swept into the Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip yesterday, sparking a gun battle and killing 10 people, Palestinian witnesses and medics said.
Army officials said the troops had met fierce resistance in the three-hour pre-dawn incursion, which it said was intended to root out militants responsible for attacks on troops in Gaza in a more than two-year Palestinian uprising for independence.
Report: Mossad behind destroying London Israeli embassy in 1994
The British daily "The Independent" on Thursday unveiled important information on spying attempts made by the Israeli Mossad and operations targeting the destruction of Israeli embassies abroad.
In an article published on Thursday and quoted by the BBC, the paper added that the person who is accused of being behind the bombing of the Israeli embassy in London in 1994, Rida Maghribi, was an agent recruited by the Mossad and was assigned by Israeli foreign intelligence for that purpose.
The paper added that behind such an act, Israel was seeking to distort the image of the Palestinians in Britain and the western countries. However, this new Mossad scandal unveiled by the British paper is added to several similar scandals dogging the Mossad in Switzerland, Cyprus and Germany involving spying against the interests of these countries and on Lebanese and Palestinian resistance forces.
Who Peddles the al Qaeda Fabrication in American Journals? - CIA Disinformation on Campus
Al Qaeda Strikes Back
"Summary: By rushing into Iraq instead of finishing off the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Washington has unwittingly helped its enemies: al Qaeda has more bases, more partners, and more followers today than it did on the eve of 9/11. Now the group is working to set up networks in the Middle East and Africa -- and may even try to lure the United States into a war with Iran. Washington must focus on attacking al Qaeda's leaders and ideas and altering the local conditions in which they thrive. ... "
The author: "Bruce Riedel is a Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He retired last year after 29 years with the Central Intelligence Agency. ... "
The CIA/Brookings Institution itself contradicts Riedel's finding: "Al-Qa`ida’s senior leadership, based in the tribal areas of Pakistan-Afghanistan, has no franchise or coordinated group in Lebanon." Further: "The current Salafi-jihadi threat is caused by a network of capable terrorist cells scattered across the country, mostly in northern Lebanon. The most dangerous terrorist axis is the one that links, by land and sea, regions in the north—such as Tripoli, al-Koura and Akkar—to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ayn al-Hilwa in Sidon."
See: "Al-Qa`ida’s Presence and Influence in Lebanon"
Meanwhile, in the real world ...
Hizbullah is Lebanon`s bulwark against Al-Qaeda
"We do not have any relations with that group"
By Clancy Chassay
The Daily Star
December 24, 2005
Since the events of September 11, 2001, there have been numerous attempts to link Hizbullah to Al-Qaeda - some more plausible than others. Investigation, however, reveals considerable animosity between the two groups, and two leading academics on the subject suggest Hizbullah may be Lebanon`s best protection against an Al-Qaeda presence in the country.
On October 28, the Kuwaiti newspaper As-Siyassa reported Hizbullah was training Arab fighters for Al-Qaeda in Iran. In August the same paper ran a story with the headline: `Most of [Al-Qaeda`s commander in Iraq Abu Musab] Zarqawi`s men are Palestinians trained by Hizbullah.`
Then last week, the Shiite weekly Ash-Shiira claimed Al-Qaeda had set up a major base of operations in Lebanon and that alleged Hizbullah associate Imad Moughniye was now representing Al-Qaeda in talks with potentially sympathetic Palestinian groups in the country.
Hizbullah`s director of media relations Mohammad Afif Naboulsi firmly denies the alleged links to the militant jihadi network, `We do not have any relation with that group, not in the present nor in the past. They are working toward tearing the Islamic Nation apart, dividing Muslims into numerous sects and mutilating the face of Islam in the world.`
Amal Ghorayeb of the Lebanese American University believes any operational cooperation between the two groups is out of the question. `Hizbullah would in no way share Al-Qaeda`s goals. The Americans have to understand Al-Qaeda is a threat to American security, Hizbullah is simply a threat to American interests,` says Ghorayeb.
An expert and writer on Hizbullah, Ghorayeb says: `Al-Qaeda would never work with Hizbullah; their greatest enemies are the Shiites. There is a very strong cultural and religious animosity on the side of Al-Qaeda.`
Last week a Shiite cleric in Lebanon received a death threat from an Al-Qaeda-type Salafi jihadist group confirming this hostility.
And on July 27, Al-Mustaqbal reported that a group calling itself the `Al-Qaeda Organization in the Levant, Umar Brigade - Lebanon Province` had announced plans to assassinate senior members of Hizbullah along with the country`s most senior Shiite clerics and politicians.
The statement accuses senior Hizbullah officials of `treason with the US, British and Israeli enemies of Islam against the victorious resistance and its great leaders ... our master Imam Osama bin Laden and the mujahid Sheikh Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi.`
Afif dismisses the statement as `fabricated locally` but says: `These groups have issued threats before and they find it very easy to kill so we must take them seriously.`
According to Dr. Redwan Sayyed, considered Lebanon`s foremost expert on Al-Qaeda and a professor of Islamic history at the Lebanese university, Salafi Jihadi ideologues, described as the intellectual voices of Al-Qaeda, view Hizbullah with deep disdain and are threatened by the Shiite group`s popularity on the Sunni Arab street.
Contributors to pro Al-Qaeda Web sites such as Global Islamic Media regularly refer to Hizbullah as Hizb al-Shaytan or `party of the devil` and in 2004, a leading scholar of jihadists in Saudi Arabia Abed al-Munim Mustafa Halimah published an article `the Lebanese Hizbullah rejectionist school` condemning Hizbullah for being nationalist, serving local interests and for their relationship with apostate Shiite Iran and the secular Assad regime in Syria.
Halimah, known as Abu Basir, accuses Hizbullah`s leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah of exploiting the January 2004 prisoner exchange with Israel solely for his organization`s goal of exporting `Shiite Islam` to the Muslim world.
Sayyed says Hizbullah regards Al-Qaeda with similar contempt and has been preventing the network from gaining a foothold in the country.
`Al-Qaeda could not maintain a base in Lebanon because Hizbullah is against Al-Qaeda and has always worked to hinder Syria`s accommodation of Al-Qaeda in Lebanon. One of the reasons Al-Qaeda has not been allowed by Syria to operate in Lebanon under the Sunnis is because of Hizbullah objection.`
Sayyed believes `Hizbullah is not only a big military power, it is also a very big intelligence power and is using its intelligence network to keep Al- Qaeda out of Lebanon.`
Ghorayeb agrees with this assessment, saying Hizbullah has been using its extensive intelligence network to counter Al-Qaeda growth in the country. `Nasrallah, drawing from Hizbullah intelligence, warned Al-Qaeda was trying to infiltrate Lebanon.`
Sayyed says: `Hizbullah has a policy of taking action against Lebanese Sunni individuals who even claim to have links with Al-Qaeda, either by warning the individuals or telling the Syrians that if they didn`t stop them `then we will.``
Hizbullah says they would act to prevent an Al-Qaeda attack but, apparently cautious of being drawn into an intra-Muslim sectarian conflict, the group says the organization needs to be defeated on an intellectual level.
Afif claims the party has been approached by mediators from the CIA `who asked us to collaborate by supplying them with information about Islamic groups.`
He adds: `We will not be taken into a sectarian war between Muslims, but we believe it is the responsibility of the Islamic theologians, the Sunnis, as well as social figures and media to play a role in raising awareness about the dangers of these ideas.`
Ghorayeb says Hizbullah is playing a delicate balancing game between Lebanon`s Sunni and Shiite communities.
`There are many instances of this Sunni-Shiite tension in Lebanon now, Hizbullah is really trying to safeguard the relations between the two groups. Now, I can tell you, the tension is a lot more palpable than it was,` says Ghorayeb.
Al Qaeda in Gaza?
October 1, 2007
In the past year I’ve had dozens of conversations with colleagues, experts, politicians, analysts, etc, about whether or not Al Qaeda is present in Gaza, especially foreign, non-Palestinian jihadis. As such, this news caught my eye today.
Hamas has extradited a wanted Al-Qaida militant to Egypt in exchange for Cairo’s agreement to allow dozens of stranded Hamas and Islamic Jihad members to return to the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian news agency Maan reported on Monday.
The not always reliable Debka file claims the Al Qaeda militant turned over to Egypt was Muhammed Fayad Ibrahim from Nebi Saweil near Cairo. They reported he was Al Qaeda-Egypt’s senior liaison officer with Osama bin Laden and that he gained asylum in the Gaza Strip in July.
If true, it’s interesting that an Al Qaeda militant would have turned to Gaza for refuge and was able to smuggle himself into the territory without a problem. The fact that Gaza is so cut off from the outside world has always been one of the arguments against Al Qaeda establishing itself there.
So if it’s all true as reported, the big question is what he’s been up to since July. Has Hamas had him in custody? Who’s he been staying with? And what would it really matter even if there was an active Al Qaeda cell in Gaza?
It’s not surprising that Hamas didn’t stomach an Al Qaeda operative’s presence for long. Even if Hamas did feel the need to justify itself after Zawahiri criticized the movement for the Mecca accord, Hamas’ relationship with Egypt is too important. That being said, Egypt didn’t get their jihadi for cheap. Hamas got an estimatd 85 militants let back into Gaza. And symbolically speaking, this deal with Egypt represents perhaps the first time it has cracked the international siege since June.