donderdag 28 augustus 2008

Al Qaida infiltreert in Israël

Al Qaida werft activisten onder Israëls Arabische bevolking, aldus de Gulf Times. Hamas en andere Palestijnse terroristische groeperingen kunnen overigens niet goed met Al Qaida door een deur, laat staan dat men ermee samenwerkt of het zal helpen voet aan de grond te krijgen onder de Palestijnen.

Al Qaeda Seen Establishing Presence Inside Israel  

Al Qaeda, long crowded out of the Palestinian territories by more localised armed groups, may be establishing a creeping presence inside Israel itself among its large Arab minority, experts say.
Over the past year the Shin Beth internal security agency has announced the arrest of four cells inspired by the ideology of Osama bin Laden's global terror network on jihadist websites and suspected of planning attacks.

The most high-profile case was that of a Jerusalem student who allegedly sought advice on an Al Qaeda Internet forum on how to shoot down George W Bush's helicopter during the US president's visit to Israel in January.

An indictment filed last month alleges that Mohamed Najem, 24, from the town of Nazareth, frequently visited the Ekhlass website message board using the alias Mohamed of Sham, a Qur'anic name for Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

The US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which specialises in penetrating and monitoring protected jihadist websites, intercepted his alleged postings.

"My brothers in Allah... How can a plane be shot down, and how can that be done? The planes of the dying Bush land and take off over a period of two days in an area close to my residence," read a January 10 message in Arabic.

According to Shin Beth, Najem was one of six Israeli Arabs and East Jerusalem Palestinians who planned how "to apply the movement's ideology".
The six, who face severe charges, have denied belonging to Al Qaeda or planning to launch attacks.

"They might have browsed certain websites, but that does not make them members of an illegal movement," said Lea Tsemel, a lawyer representing the alleged leader of the ring, 21-year-old Yusef Sumeirin, from occupied East Jerusalem.

"They are religious Muslims whose beliefs might be similar to some of Al Qaeda's views, but they were never accepted into the organisation and did not plan any attack," she added.

In another case, Israeli authorities last month detained two Bedouins from the southern town of Rahat suspected of planning attacks on airports, skyscrapers and military bases after joining Al Qaeda online forums.

"In recent months there have been several arrests in Israel that involved mainly Al Qaeda recruitment and planning over the Internet," a security official said on condition of anonymity.

Although the Palestinian cause figures strongly in Al Qaeda's rhetoric the group has never successfully attacked Israel, although it did carry out twin attacks against Israeli targets in the Kenyan city of Mombassa in November 2002.

Al Qaeda never developed much of a following in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where it has been mostly crowded out by older groups such as the late Yasser Arafat's secular Fatah and the Islamist Hamas movement.

While Hamas and Islamic Jihad focus exclusively on battling Israel, they also reject Al Qaeda's vision of a global jihad, precluding any kind of alliance.

"Radical Palestinian groups differ very much from Al Qaeda and in fact try not to be part of Al Qaeda's ideology. In that regard, the groups have different Internet forums, and often these forums are very critical of one another," SITE Intelligence Group director Rita Katz said.

Mutual animosity among the various Islamist groups has endured despite Hamas's seizure of Gaza, she said.

"In recent years we have noticed many new trends in regard to Al Qaeda's activities in Israel. Hamas is no longer part of the global jihad, and is actually considered by Al Qaeda leadership as an enemy," Katz said in an e-mail.

Israeli security officials fear Al Qaeda may manage to recruit Israeli Arabs who have in the past largely avoided the more traditional Palestinian armed groups.

The country's population of more than 7mn includes about 1.2mn Arabs, the descendants of Palestinians who remained in the Jewish state following its creation in 1948.

Experts say that Al Qaeda's network has grown throughout Israel and that the recent indictments should not be seen as isolated cases.

Shay Arbel, a senior researcher for Terrogence, an Israeli firm that specialises in analysing jihadist websites, said that the recent years have seen a sharp rise in the number of Israeli Arabs visiting the Al Qaeda forums.

Gaining access to such sites is possible only after passing a rigorous online test which includes a request for newcomers to present detailed ideas for attacks, Arbel said.

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