|al Qaeda in Gaza|
Israel has a history with al Qaeda, although this is not generally acknowledged by its leaders or media (who prefer the term "Global Jihad"). Like Iran and its surrogates, the late Osama bin Laden's organization declared war on the Jews and has established networks around its borders in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Egyptian Sinai.
In reporting on his death Monday, May 2, Israeli TV networks claimed incorrectly that Al Qaeda had never attacked Israel when, only in the past year, Al Qaeda cells based in the Gaza Strip carried out many of the armed attacks launched on the Gaza-Israeli border and Jewish civilian locations.
One cell abducted and put to death the Italian pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arrigoni on April 14, an "operation" commanded by an al Qaeda operative from Jordan called Abdul Rahman al-Briziti. This atrocity should have pointed attention to the stream of al Qaeda fugitives swelling Palestinian terrorist ranks in Gaza. But it didn't, although some are coming in from battle arenas in Yemen and Somalia via Sudan; others from Iraq via Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula or as infiltrators from Syria and Lebanon.
Only six months ago, American, Israeli and Egyptian (then ruled by Hosni Mubarak) counter-terror agencies working together carried out a targeted operation against the Army of Islam's Sinai chief, Jemal Mohammed Namnam and his two confederates, Islam Yassin and Mohammed Yassin.
Their deaths on Nov. 11 and 17, 2010 averted the large-scale terrorist attacks they were preparing to launch in the Egyptian peninsula and would have entailed strikes against the Americans staffing the international MFO at its headquarters in f El Arish and Sharm El-Sheikh and the abduction of Americans and Israelis for secret confinement in Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip as hostages.
Our counter-terror sources reveal that Al Qaeda's units are ensconced in the southern, central and northeastern sectors of the Gaza Strip: The southern cluster is based in the northern and southern districts of Khan Younis, a town of 220,000 inhabitants 4 kilometers east of the Mediterranean coast and 1.5 kilometers from the Israeli border.
A second group more or less controls the town of Deir al Balakh, a town of 150,000 in the central region. A third is embedded in the Zaitun and Nuseyrat districts of Gaza City.
DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources disclose that these Al Qaeda operatives have built themselves at least six fortified villas in those three locations. Like the Abbottabad villa-fortress where Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday night by a team of US Seals, the Gaza villas have top security and dominate the surrounding skylines.
The success of the American, Israeli and Egyptian agencies in foiling a major terrorist attack in Sinai was played down by Washington and Jerusalem, conduct that deserves an explanation in the new anti-al Qaeda climate.
The fact is that the international community has assigned the Palestinian extremist Hamas a key role in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and is therefore concerned with cleaning up its reputation. Every effort is therefore being made to avoid the embarrassment of fingering Hamas – not only for harboring but also activating al Qaeda's Gaza's cells for terrorism against Israel. Hamas is not punished for opening the smuggling tunnels it runs jointly with Iran and al Qaeda to admit them, even though those tunnels are branches of the wide-ranging Hamas-Iran-al Qaeda smuggling web that links Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and the Arabian Peninsula, including Yemen.
How would Hamas look if it were exposed to the same hard light of day as al Qaeda? Would its sponsors be able to sanitize these Islamists enough to sit them down opposite Israel as legitimate co-rulers of the future Palestine, including the West Bank?
Therefore, in the past year, agents of the US, British, French, Italian, Swiss and Norwegian governments have been working hard to refurbish Hamas and make it look respectable in Western eyes. They therefore choose to believe Gaza's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh when he laughed off the suggestion that his organization maintains operational ties with al Qaeda or that any of its jihadis are present in the Strip.
But all their hard work was undone Monday, May 2, when the al Qaeda leader's sudden death caught the Hamas prime minister off-guard. Blurting out what he really felt, Haniyeh condemned the killing of bin Laden as "the continuation of American oppression and shedding of blood of Muslims and Arabs." Although Hamas had its differences with Al Qaeda, his group, he said, condemns the assassination of "a Muslim and holy Arabic warrior" and prays that bin Laden's "soul rests in peace."
The Hamas official was the only Muslim leader in the world to bluntly condemn the US for killing the master-terrorist – a telltale betrayal of Hamas's true nature behind its Western-contrived diplomatic façade.
While some Israeli officials tried pretending Haniyeh had been carried away, DEBKAfile's Palestinian sources report that he was genuinely appalled by Osama bin Laden's death and spoke from the heart.
In private conversations, Hamas leaders confess that they really do regard the United States as the worst and most blood-stained oppressor of Middle East Arabs, aside from Israel. Despite their ideological differences, they genuinely regard Al Qaeda and its fighters as heroic mujahedin and prized allies.
In this, they secretly line up with Tehran which too, behind its show of denouncing al Qaeda, using its services covertly, mainly in Iraq, for killing Americans.
The absence of any American or Israeli rebuke for Haniyeh is accounted for by the date: Wednesday, May 4, Khaled Meshaal flies into Cairo from Hamas headquarters, Damascus, to embrace Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, and solemnize a unity pact burying the four-year old hatchet dividing their organizations and separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.
The deal was mediated by Egypt for the main objective shared by all three of bestowing respectability and legitimacy on the Hamas terrorist organization – and by definition its operational partnership with al Qaeda.
The Obama administration and Europe seem to find no difficulty in reconciling the killing of al Qaeda's leader after a 10-year hunt and the consolidation of his organization and terrorist cells in the Gaza Strip and Sinai with the blessing of Cairo, Ramallah and their Western backers.