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Al Qaeda or the International Jihad is operating in the Palestinian territories, according to a Ha'aretz article. Israel's Shin Bet chief Yuval Dichter told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israeli security forces have arrested terrorists belonging to World Jihad with general plans for terrorist activities.

The infiltration of the Palestinian areas by these groups, following their establishment in Sinai, should come as no surprise.

Al Hayat had reported in April about the spread of the World Jihad movement to the West Bank and Gaza. They noted that diaspora Palestinians had first joined such groups, and that the move to the West Bank and Gaza was part of the picture emerging with the election of the Hamas. The Dar Al Hayat articles provide fascinating insights into the origins and dynamics of Jihadist extremism in Palestinian society, and its "epidemiology" (that seems like the most appropriate word) in the Middle East. In its first article, Al-Hayat reported:


In Amman there is much talk about the impending arrival of al-Qaida to the West Bank.

However, the Palestinians have a long story with al-Qaida or groups espousing "salafi jihadism" [Salafi means fundamentalist in that it glorifies the early practitioners of Islam]. The experience has taken place since the beginning of the Arab Afghans struggle, although unlike other Arab societies, Palestinians in the territories were somewhat "late" in seeing the phenomenon among them.

The al-Qaida Organization (Tanzim al-Qaida) almost constitutes an exception regarding the "absence of the nation" in its exhortations. It is an idea (that has become degraded) without a nation, an action stripped of any tangible claim. For the Palestinians of the Diaspora, Palestine is more than a nation and less than territory. In one sense, it is an idea that accompanies Palestinians as they cross the Hindu Kush. There is no land for them to remember; no village, no city.



This description of Palestinian terrorist movements as a-national is in sharp contrast to the image of the Palestinian struggle against Israel as a "National Liberation movement."

The revelations by Diskin are hardly new. In fact, Dar Al Hayat had reported in April that Israeli and Jordanian authorities had already seen signs of Al-Qaeda activity two months previously:


Only two months ago, the Israeli police intercepted a telephone call between a Palestinian from the West Bank and a resident of a refugee camp in Jordan; the police realized that someone was preparing to establish an al-Qaida cell in the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities were informed of the name of the caller in the refugee camp and other names that were mentioned in the conversation, while the West Bank Palestinian and another man with him were arrested. In the Jordanians' investigation, it turned out that the matter was no more than a declaration of intentions and did not involve operational planning. These are the kind of things that Jordanian security observes and anticipates, but doesn't take action against. The Israeli authorities announced a short time later that it had detained activists in a cell affiliated with al-Qaida in the West Bank.



In a second article, Al-Hayat explained that the politicization and moderation of the Hamas would inevitably cause it to splinter, and that the militant factions or military wing, dissatisfied with moderation, would turn to Al-Qaeda type operations and ideology, "internationalizing" the struggle. In other words, it is important for them to blow things up. It doesn't matter if it is for the cause of Palestinian nationalism or international Jihad, as long as they are blowing things up:



Hamas today represents the community of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West Bank and Gaza and it is their community in the Palestinian refugee camps of Jordan. These pro-Muslim Brotherhood camps were the actual incubator of international jihad groups, which had exited the Brotherhood circle. This Brotherhood community in the West Bank today is the incubator, if not localization, for those exiting Hamas, those who have been pushed by the circumstances of the confrontation with Israel to become likely targets for assassination and murder. Movement toward a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict faces a true dilemma today, represented by the fact that hundreds of activists (and perhaps more) from Hamas and other groups cannot easily move toward political action, despite Hamas' adopting this option and the formation of a Cabinet. A Jordanian security source says that "al-Maqdasi (Issam al-Barqawi) and al-Zarqawi have never worked before in the West Bank and Gaza. In the past, the war was limited to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah, on the one side, and Israel, on the other. There was no time or leisure to build cells via books and convince people (of the cause). al-Qaida's targets were western interests; if this had taken place in Palestine, there would have been a clash with the interests of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. What has changed today is Hamas' participation in Palestinian elections and forming a government. This will be resented among those in the military wing."


Al Hayat notes:


The arrival of al-Qaida in the West Bank and Gaza is not a procedural matter. Al-Qaida has become a modus operandi and a method of thought and whoever adopts method of belief should act, which is not easy. The problem is that the dispute with al-Qaida in many Islamic circles is limited to the method of action and not the objectives. It is only technical matter to move from believe in peaceful change to using violent means. In Palestine, it is easy to narrow this distance between the two, in light of the continuing failure of the peace process.


The problem that Al Hayat does not see, is embedded in its own summary. If the Jihadists and others all have the same objectives, as they say, then the peace process is bound to fail. The objectives of the Jihadists are undoubtedly the destruction of Israel. Nobody disputes this. They will sabotage any effort at a solution that does not involve the destruction of Israel. Therefore, the failure of the peace process is inevitable, because the Islamists - violent or nonviolent - were never involved in any peace process and do not want to be involved in a peace process.

If Hamas moderates and adopts the program of the Prisoners, which many believe implicitly recognizes Israel it may have automatically taken itself out of the acceptable ideological framework of Islamism. While one reaction may be the increasing rule of Al-Qaida ("World Jihad") groups, a second result may be the formation of an alternative Sunni-aligned nationalist Islamist group, or an increase in the following of Islamic Jihad, which is not part of the politicization process.

Ami Isseroff




Last update - 21:08 06/06/2006

Shin Bet chief: First signs of World Jihad visible in West Bank
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/723677.html
By Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondent


The security forces have recently identified initial signs that World Jihad has begun building an ideological foothold in the West Bank, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin said on Tuesday.

The head of the domestic security service told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that security forces recently arrested individuals in the Jerusalem and Nablus areas found with plans for terror attacks.

The plans were very general and did not include specific timetables.

Diskin reminded the Knesset committee that World Jihad also has an infrastructure set up in neighboring Jordan, but added that the Jordanian authorities are operating widely against the organization.

Egypt, however, has not managed to successfully combat World Jihad cells operating within Sinai and the peninsula is thus flooded with weapons smugglers. Diskin said Egypt has had very limited success in combating
terrorism.

Since the Israel Defense Forces withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Diskin said, weapons smuggling from bordering Sinai has increased dramatically. Militants have managed to smuggle more than 10 tons of explosives, several million rounds of rifle ammunition, some 10,000 assault rifles, several hundred rocket-propelled grenades and a small number of surface-to-air missiles.

'PA services on verge of collapse
Diskin said that all Palestinian government services will collapse if the Palestinian Authority is not supplied with funds - a development that will not serve Israel's interests.

The Shin Bet chief noted that the Palestinian economic crisis is weighing heavily on the Hamas-led government and there have been a number of recent attempts to smuggle suitcases jam packed with foreign currency into the Gaza Strip.

It is still not clear whether PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will be able to carry out his plan for a referendum on the prisoners' document, Diskin said. He said Israel should not interfere in the matter and noted that no Palestinian faction has any interest in continued internal conflict.



In the Palestinian Diaspora, They Joined Early . . . In the Territories, They Delayed in Receiving It (Part One of Two)
Hazem al-Amin Al-Hayat - 07/04/06//
http://english.daralhayat.com/Spec/04-2006/Article-20060407-74c40c9e-c0a8-10ed-0105-0034e1a86f7c/story.html

AMMAN, Jordan- In Amman there is much talk about the impending arrival of al-Qaida to the West Bank. This speculation has become stronger after the recent statements by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to al-Hayat, in which he referred to information about al-Qaida activities on the West Bank, saying this would expose the entire region to convulsions.

However, the Palestinians have a long story with al-Qaida or groups espousing "salafi jihadism" [Salafi means fundamentalist in that it glorifies the early practitioners of Islam]. The experience has taken place since the beginning of the Arab Afghans struggle, although unlike other Arab societies, Palestinians in the territories were somewhat "late" in seeing the phenomenon among them.


This two-part article in al-Hayat uses information from diplomats and security organizations about the renewed activities by al-Qaida in Gaza and the possibility that such groups will arrive in the West Bank. The timing for such an article involves the victory by Hamas in Palestinian legislative elections. Today's installment will deal with al-Qaida in the Palestinian Diaspora and the presence of al-Qaida and Islamic Jihad, beginning with Saleh Siriyya to Abu Anas al-Shami.

When Abu Abdullah al-Filastini, one of the Arab Afghans, who was an early jihadist in Afghanistan, was crossing the treacherous Hindu Kush mountain range, he was occupied by a question that he didn't try to answer: wasn't going to Palestine easier than crossing these winding mountains? It was a question that would accompany many Palestinians who experienced the "international jihad," especially those who played roles in setting up the jihad movement outside Palestine. We can say that the Palestinians were the radical fuel for most of these Islamic movements which they joined, from Egypt to Jordan and ending in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Iraq.


The al-Qaida Organization (Tanzim al-Qaida) almost constitutes an exception regarding the "absence of the nation" in its exhortations. It is an idea (that has become degraded) without a nation, an action stripped of any tangible claim. For the Palestinians of the Diaspora, Palestine is more than a nation and less than territory. In one sense, it is an idea that accompanies Palestinians as they cross the Hindu Kush. There is no land for them to remember; no village, no city. The thoughts accompanying Abu Abdullah in the Hindu Kush were nothing more than a passing idea. Some of this might explain the phenomenon of the early and intense involvement of Diaspora Palestinians in Salafi Jihadist movements and later al-Qaida, with its related groups and factions. Meanwhile, the late adherence of Palestinians in the territories to al-Qaida, which Abbas noted in his conversation with al-Hayat, is related to the fact that Palestinians of the Diaspora remain subject to the situation in the territories.


Only two months ago, the Israeli police intercepted a telephone call between a Palestinian from the West Bank and a resident of a refugee camp in Jordan; the police realized that someone was preparing to establish an al-Qaida cell in the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities were informed of the name of the caller in the refugee camp and other names that were mentioned in the conversation, while the West Bank Palestinian and another man with him were arrested. In the Jordanians' investigation, it turned out that the matter was no more than a declaration of intentions and did not involve operational planning. These are the kind of things that Jordanian security observes and anticipates, but doesn't take action against. The Israeli authorities announced a short time later that it had detained activists in a cell affiliated with al-Qaida in the West Bank.

Expectations that al-Qaida has transferred its activities to the West Bank and Gaza are supported by many facts and much analysis.

Western security sources have confirmed to al-Hayat that a Takfir group [which believes in killing Muslim "unbelievers"] composed of around 10 people is active in Gaza, under the name al-Qaida Organization, and is engaged in preparation and assembling sums of money. The sources discussed the foiling of an operation planned by this group, which targeted a vital facility in Gaza. This information is not the only indication of al-Qaida's beginning activities in Gaza, followed by the West Bank and the Green Line. The recent Palestinian elections were preceded by a truce announced by Hamas, which was victorious in the polls. The truce and participation in the election led to various reactions within the military wing of the movement (the Izzeddine al-Qassam Brigades), particularly since the truce meant excluding Hamas' military organization, while the elections and the results meant a victory for the political alternative, which the military wing doesn't control. Jordanian Security and Jordanian and Palestinian forces in Amman began hearing reports that appeared to indicate a split or dispute between the political leadership and the military wing in Gaza led by Mohammed Daif. A Palestinian source in Amman believed that Abbas' reference to security reports claiming that al-Qaida had found a foothold in the West Bank and Gaza means implicitly that there is information about contacts between Daif and military officials in Hamas, and al-Qaida channels in Jordan and Iraq.


However, the arrival of al-Qaida in Gaza and the West Bank, which most sources following the matter believe is inevitable, is a result and not the beginning of a new phase. It's the end of the context of involvement by Palestinians in Salafi Jihadist movements, when the latter moved from propagating its cause to military action in the mid-1970s. Perhaps the strange thing is this delay in reaching Gaza and the West Bank, after the activities of Palestinians in this current spread to all parts of the world. If the Palestinian Sheikh Abdullah Azzam is the person who in the mid-1980s established the Beit al-Ansar (House of Partisans) in Peshawar, Pakistan, a group considered the nucleus of al-Qaida, the Palestinian Saleh Siriyya preceded Azzam by more than a decade in declaring Jihad against political regimes, via what was called the Military Faculty Organization in Egypt, most of whose members have been executed. The strange thing is that Siriyya and Azzam were linked by a relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood and Fatah, before becoming independent from them.


Around two years ago, and about 15 years after his return from his first Jihad experience, in Afghanistan, Abu Abdullah al-Filastini, who resided in Jordan, decided to repeat the experience in Iraq. During the 15 years separating his first and second "exits" (leaving a country for Jihad), Palestine was close-by and time moved quickly, unlike in Afghanistan. Abu Abdullah says that "rapid means of communication and transport push time along with them, while in Afghanistan, time moved as quickly as the beasts of burden that were transporting it." However, time moving quickly is a sign of entering the transitory world, while going slowly in Afghanistan resembles the nonexistence of time on the Day of Judgment.


Abu Abdullah was born in 1963 in a West Bank town; he and his family were displaced in 1967 to Jordan. Abu Abdullah's family was part of a PLO environment, with all of this organization's various factions. Before Black September in 1970, Abu Abdullah's brother was killed, he was a young man and member of al-Saiqa (the Palestinian branch of the Syrian Baath Party), which was in the PLO at the time. Abu Abdullah grew up in the shadow of the "continuing disappointments" that have beset the Palestinians since 1970; he experienced the failure of the pan-Arab and leftist organizations, which led confrontations with Israel during the 1970s and 1980s. He says that in 1986, he decided to become religious committed, after feeling that "injustice can only be combated by force and bravery." A few months later he left for Afghanistan and spent months there before returning a trained mujahid, with credentials. After his return, he devoted himself to studying with Salafi jihad sheikhs in more than one place in Jordan. During this period, he worked in modest and temporary professions, until the time of his "second exodus" in 2004, toward Iraq.


Abu Abdullah went to Damascus, where he had to wait a few days before being contacted by someone who could get him to Baghdad. In Damascus, where he visited the souqs, he decided to visit the offices of al-Saiqa, to ask about the details of the killing of his brother, if he could find anyone who knew them. Abu Abdullah said, "I found the building of al-Saiqa of Damascus to be big, decrepit and empty of any resident, except a bored guard. I asked him if he could help me get to someone who knew what I wanted. The guard smiled and said that only one person comes to this office, once a month, and no one else shows up. He didn't think that person knew anything about my brother." After a few days spent in Damascus, Abu Abdullah headed for the Al-Bukamal region on the Syrian-Iraqi border. During his attempt to cross, Syrian police arrested him and kept him in prison for a month. They then released him on the Jordanian border and he returned to the Palestinian refugee camp in Amman.


Abu Abdullah's story sheds light on many aspects of the relationship between al-Qaida and Palestinian refugees in Jordan and others in the Diaspora: a realistic, light and old relationship with Palestine, and unending myths, and the folding of the idea of a place of the nation and real life. However, other aspects cannot be shed light on via short incidents from the biography of a mujahid, especially since Palestinians in al-Qaida and those who were partisans of Salafi jihad were the nucleus upon which the organization was built and used to encourage its activities.



In the Palestinian Diaspora, ... ďInternational JihadĒ Accelerates its Steps in the West Bank and Gaza, after ďNational JihadĒ Formed its Government (Part II of II)
Hazem al-Amin Al-Hayat - 10/04/06//
http://english.daralhayat.com/Spec/04-2006/Article-20060410-84272b88-c0a8-10ed-0105-0034bc562c62/story.html

AMMAN- Jordan - After the first installment of this two-part series dealt with al-Qaida in the Palestinian Diaspora and the attempts to see it reach Palestine, this final installment will deal with the salafi jihad movements in Gaza and regions of the West Bank. It will outline the difference between "international jihad," adopted by al-Qaida, and "national jihad," undertaken by Islamist parties and movements like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It will also treat the issue of the Islamic environment that gives rise to jihadist ideas and information about the beginning of al-Qaida's penetration of Gaza.

Security and "jihad" sources in Amman believe it likely that the internet is playing a big role in building networks for al-Qaida within the West Bank and Gaza. A Palestinian Islamist activist says, "We're not talking about communicating our ideas via the internet. Our ideas have arrived; now we're talking about building an organization, which requires capabilities that are present today, more so than any previous time. Evading surveillance is something that's possible only on the net." A Jordanian security official says that the new al-Qaida generation is professional and enjoys high-level "communications" capacities, allowing them to get to places outside security surveillance.

Researcher Hassan Haniyya believes that the time is right for al-Qaida to begin establishing itself in the territories. However, he expects this phase to take a few years, before actual operations begin. "Regarding their modus operandi at the beginning of the 1990s," he says, "supporters of al-Qaida and salafi jihadist thought represented only a very small group in Jordan. After the decision to begin work was taken, only a few years passed and al-Qaida had spread, and now it has groups and partisans." Haniyya's comments are backed by an activist in the salafi jihadist current; he says that "any action attributed today to al-Qaida in the West Bank and Gaza will represent an individual initiative by disorganized groups. The Palestinian branch of al-Qaida has not begun operations yet, because the preparations aren't complete."

However, what is this moment referred to by more than one source? Why has it come time for al-Qaida to become active in the West Bank and Gaza? The usual answers range from the truce declared by Hamas to its involvement in the political process, and its recent election victory. This does not mean mere theoretical speculation, but a conclusion based on information held by a number of political groups and security bodies, indicating the beginning of penetration of leaderships and the rank and file of the military wing of Hamas. This is particularly because the move to political action and negotiations will leave many Hamas activists open to targeting by Israel, a process that never stops; the political leadership has decided to switch efforts to another area. Hamas, whose election victory actually surprised its leadership, had not prepared itself and its cadres for the role it is playing today. As long as the transitional phases of organizations like Hamas are exposed to internal disruptions, these will result, according to more than one source, in a split within the radical groups. Israel's policy of targeting activists will increase pressure in this direction.

Abu Mohammed affirms that around 200 members of Hamas' military wing in Gaza, led by a well-known military official, have begun contacts with parties outside the territories, to protest the truce. Salafi jihadists in Jordan speak of a letter sent via the internet from the al-Qaida Organization (Tanzim al-Qaida) to mujahideen in Palestine, signed by al-Moqdad Omar. The letter contained advice and a call to ignore the truce and reject the political process. The Islamists say that the letter was sent to the military head of the al-Qassam Brigades, Mohammed Daif, and that he read it; it was published on al-Qaida's Palestine website (www.alommh.net).

Many reasons allow us to link the shock of Hamas' taking office and seeing al-Qaida able to penetrate the West Bank and Gaza. Salafi jihadist groups' ability to arrive and spread in the Jordanian and Palestinian environment took place under a similar logic. In Jordan, these groups are, in one way or another, radical splits from Jordan's own Muslim Brotherhood.

The sheikhs, propagators and activists felt that the Brotherhood did not meet their violent needs. The involvement of the Brotherhood in political life and its alliance with the King, followed by its members becoming government ministers and later its contesting parliamentary elections, constituted a deviation from their concept of their religious mission. At first, these divisions took place in Palestinian circles in Jordan. The salafi jihad movement did not move to Eastern Jordan until the mid-1990s. Hamas was the Palestinian extension of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, and perhaps the son had outstripped the scope and role of the father. However, the father's genes exist in Hamas the son. This formula grows in importance since Hamas was born with a push from the hawks and followers of Sayyed Qutb from among Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood members. Hamas is distinguished from "international jihad" salafi organizations by what Hassan Haniyya calls its "salafi nationalism." Here, we are entering a narrow area, in which it is easy to jump from slight differences to beliefs.

Hamas today represents the community of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West Bank and Gaza and it is their community in the Palestinian refugee camps of Jordan. These pro-Muslim Brotherhood camps were the actual incubator of international jihad groups, which had exited the Brotherhood circle. This Brotherhood community in the West Bank today is the incubator, if not localization, for those exiting Hamas, those who have been pushed by the circumstances of the confrontation with Israel to become likely targets for assassination and murder. Movement toward a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict faces a true dilemma today, represented by the fact that hundreds of activists (and perhaps more) from Hamas and other groups cannot easily move toward political action, despite Hamas' adopting this option and the formation of a Cabinet. A Jordanian security source says that "al-Maqdasi (Issam al-Barqawi) and al-Zarqawi have never worked before in the West Bank and Gaza. In the past, the war was limited to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah, on the one side, and Israel, on the other. There was no time or leisure to build cells via books and convince people (of the cause). al-Qaida's targets were western interests; if this had taken place in Palestine, there would have been a clash with the interests of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. What has changed today is Hamas' participation in Palestinian elections and forming a government. This will be resented among those in the military wing."

Jordanian security has no specific information about activity by al-Qaida in the West Bank, even though officials lean toward believing the development to be possible. In Gaza, these security sources are certain that some have begun preparing themselves for joining al-Qaida. These sources revealed that a group of ten al-Qaida activists in Gaza were recruited via the internet and that they are in the preparation stage. This group will use unprecedented camouflage measures, such as tasking women with communications and transporting weapons, said the sources, who see this step as coinciding with the use by Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi in Iraq of women for a number of missions and movements. In the context of linking this information about the movement of these groups in Gaza and what is taking place in Iraq, the Jordanian sources pointed out that the name of the Takfir group [which believes in killing Muslim "unbelievers"] the Salaheddine Brigades, which is active in Gaza and led by Jamal Abu Samhadan, is also used by a group in Iraq, and puts out statements taking responsibility for operations against the Americans and the Iraqi Army. Jordanian security has no information about a connection between the two organizations, but the matter does require their notice, they believe; it indicates a coalescence between groups in Iraq and Gaza.

The reason for Gaza's taking precedence over the West Bank in receiving salafi jihadist thought and its security and military organizations is linked to a great extent to the area's high population density and the spread of Islamist parties since the beginning of the first Intifada. Also, Israeli surveillance of the West Bank has been stricter than in Gaza. Here, we should note the Israeli role in spreading Islamist currents at the end of the 1970s in an attempt to confront Fatah and the pan-Arab and leftist currents, which played roles in the first Intifada. Israel tested the Muslim Brotherhood and its traditional options, considering it a pragmatic group that could lead to Palestinian representation distant from the PLO. However, the Israelis were surprised by the rapid spread of Islamist movements and their transformation into resistance movements. It realized late that the coming confrontation would be with these currents and the first step lay in expelling Hamas activists to the Marj Zuhour area of Lebanon at the beginning of the 1990s.

Gaza was the scene of both the first Israel tendency toward calmly dealing with the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, as well as the first confrontation with this group. At the end of the 1970s, the Israeli authorities did not object to the formation of the Islamic University in Gaza. This university turned into one of the true incubators of the Islamist movements in the city. Israel tried to play on the contradiction between the territories and the Diaspora, wagering on the territories becoming an alternative to the PLO; the Muslim Brotherhood was a part of this "interior" part of the equation.

The Israelis later realized their failure and learned late that this environment would be used by the radicals. Of course, this delay reminds us of the Americans' delay in expecting what the Afghan Arab phenomenon, which they helped build up, would lead to in the end.

With the beginning of the Intifada, Gaza turned into the area where an Islamist movement was described as calling for accelerating jihad. At the same time, Hamas saw a debate between wings of the Brotherhood: the Gaza wing called for speeding up jihad and announcing the formation of the movement, while the West Bank wing preferred at first to see education and instruction precede the announcement and prepare the way for it. The former group was able, in the end, to get its way.

The above presentation does not mean that the beginning of the growth of the Palestinian Islamic resistance in Gaza involves a link between the organizational structures of these movements and the international jihad and al-Qaida networks. However, the social and religious structures are similar; researchers cannot find al-Qaida with a foothold in Gaza or the West Bank unless they first examine the Islamic movement's environment. We can see the same trajectory in most radical movements. But in the Palestinian case, we can see an opposed movement as well. While radical Palestinian Islamist figures began their activities in the Palestinian cause, they overcame it or performed an "exodus" to Afghanistan (Abdullah Azzam) or "Londonistan" (Abu Qutada); i.e. they moved from the national jihad to the international one, there are those who moved in the opposite direction, from international to nation, such as the leaders of Islamic Jihad (Abdel-Aziz Awdeh, Fathi Shiqaqi, and Ramadan Shallah). This latter group went to Egypt at the beginning of the 1970s for study; there, they met the leaders of Qutb-ist Islamist groups (after Sayyed Qutb), which became active in Egyptian universities, influenced by Saleh Siriyya, their colleague there, Mohammed Salem Rahhal, and Egyptian activists like Abdel-Salam Faraj.

The Egyptian Awdeh and Shiqaqi were arrested by Egyptian security as a result of their relationship with the Egyptian Jihad Movement. The leaders of the Islamic Jihad in Palestine were later linked to the Iranian Revolution and visited Tehran at the beginning of the revolution. However, despite their contact with international jihad, they returned and set up their "Palestinian" movement in Gaza.

Here, we can note the difference between those who have embraced international jihad after national experiences, and those who return from international jihad to national jihad. Most of the first group's members are from the Palestinian Diaspora, and particularly refugee camps in Jordan, while the others are from the territories, and specifically Gaza.

We can apply this relationship between the national and international jihads to the beginnings of Hamas in a different way. The movement, according to those close to it from this time, saw a struggle between leaderships from outside the territories, coming from Kuwait after the Second Gulf War (Khaled Meshaal, Mohammed Nazzal, Imad al-Alami, and Musa Abu Marzouq) and those within Gaza (Abdel-Aziz Rantissi, Mahmoud Zahhar, Ismail Abu Haniyya. The leadership outside the territories wanted to move from a negative "resistance" through popular networks and protest movements to a "positive" resistance, i.e. direct military reaction.

The leadership inside the territories wanted to take its time. The "outside" was more radical than the "inside," which also explains some aspects of the delay of al-Qaida's arrival inside the territories; the delay, according to some of those frequenting al-Qaida circles, caused considerable confusion in the salafi jihadist center and raised doubts regarding the role and function of these groups.

Just as the "international" nature of Abdullah Azzam's jihadist calls were not separate from the Palestinian dilemma, the Palestinian nature of Islamic Jihad and Hamas (to a lesser degree) were not free of an international aspect, as long as conflicts in faraway lands were moved to the heart of the Palestinian cause. In this situation of status quo, al-Qaida has a chance with the Palestinian issue. It is an area in which the borders between Palestine as a homeland and Palestine as a "holy trust" are blurred; this dichotomy might be a fixed one in Palestinian identity. However, it might involve losing territory and retaining the idea. This hypothesis runs in exact parallel to national salafism and international jihadist salafism, and moving between them. What would be the case if the former has no firm origin in the books of the salafis and the judgments of their followers? Perhaps the answer is represented in the post-Palestinian elections period, in that it is easy to perform an exodus and join the international jihad.

In addition to the salafi nature of the "national" Hamas, salafi groups outside the Muslim Brotherhood have always spread in the West Bank and even within the Green Line. On more than one occasion, jihadist individuals and groups have existed some of these groups; some groups were dismantled and others have moved toward propagation of the call. In 1979, Sheikh Abdullah Nimr Darwish, an Arab Israeli, established the Families of Jihad (Usar al-Jihad) group, which carried out a number of military operations before its founder was imprisoned for five years. After his release he announced his abandonment of his ideas and set up the Islamic Movement in Palestine and became involved in the Israeli political process. Another person, on the West Bank, was Dia al-Din al-Qudsi, one of those who went to Afghanistan and returned to the West Bank, setting up a group of supporters. However, he is now in prison.

A former Palestinian Authority official, who declined to reveal his identity, says that "the salafi jihadist thought that we know was late in penetrating the West Bank. Small groups have begun to form in more than one region, via the internet and books and publications that arrive from Jordan and Egypt. This has been occupying Israeli security organizations for the last three years." Meanwhile, a Jordanian security official says that the Jordanian authorities are not following salafi jihad groups in Gaza; it is important to discover their networks for contacting the outside, so that their capabilities and objectives can be discovered."

"The three coming years will be the years of al-Qaida in the West Bank and Gaza." This is repeated in Jordan by political and security officials and those who follow al-Qaida and jihadists. The election win by Hamas, and the lack of likely progress on a settlement, have awakened this hypothesis.

Regional Divisions Within al-Qaida . . . al-Zarqawi challenged al-Maqdisi with the Amman Bombings

A Jordanian security official told al-Hayat about al-Qaida's work methods in recent months, as it was under surveillance by Jordanian security. He said that al-Qaida has carried out three types of operations in the world. The first is the kind where Ayman al-Zawahiri gives direct orders for execution. The second is when decisions are left to groups and networks spread throughout the world. The third is the kind that is inspired via jihadist websites, whose pages often contain coded messages to specific people, a type of designation that they have been tasked with certain missions and operations.

The security official affirmed that Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are hiding in the province of Waziristan, in Pakistan.

He revealed that bin Laden recently appointed an official for al-Qaida's foreign relations; he is an Egyptian named Said, who previously worked as a financial official for the group.

He said that there are divisions that have taken place in al-Qaida recently, most important the split by Abu Laith al-Libi, who took some of his supporters with him and preferred to work alone within Afghanistan. It is believed likely that the divisions have prompted bin Laden to bring Egyptians closer to him, at the expense of his supporters from other nationalities.

The security official indicated that bin Laden had reappointed emirs for certain regions; one was named for Europe and another for Bilad al-Sham (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan), a Syrian who moves between Lebanon and Syria and tries to recruit activists from both countries.
The security official said that al-Zarqawi was the emir of Iraq alone and that the operations that he carried out or tried to carry out in Jordan are part of a process of al-Zarqawi's own revenge against Jordan.
Another source described the bombings of hotels in Amman carried out by al-Zarqawi as internal messages that he wanted to send to his sheikh, Abu Mohammed al-Maqdasi, who had written a letter to al-Zarqawi from his prison. In it, he hinted that the siege that jihadists in Jordan were suffering from was because al-Zarqawi had made them objects of suspicion.
al-Zarqawi mentioned that it was difficult to use Jordanians in his operations inside the country. It appears that the letter produced bitterness between the two men, and that al-Zarqawi wanted to tell his sheikh: "I can still move in Jordan." He carried out the hotel bombings via Iraqis.

A Palestinian Jihadist Journeys to the Hindu Kush

The following is the account of a Palestinian who has returned from Afghanistan:

"When I decided to go to Afghanistan in 1987, it wasn't because of a conviction that was generated by my contact with mujahideen sheikhs. I myself decided to go. I was here in Jordan, following the news of the mujahideen in Afghanistan and reading their pamphlets, which were distributed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Palestine was unattainable. I went to the Pakistani Embassy in Amman; the Pakistani prime minister at the time was Zia al-Haq, and he encouraged going to Pakistan for jihad. However, this took place through Islamic parties and associations, not through individual initiatives. Thus, the Embassy didn't agree to give me a visa at first. I made another attempt, saying I wanted to go to apply to one of the Islamic universities in the capital, and I received the visa.

I traveled by plane to Karachi Airport, and from there took another to Peshawar. As soon as I arrived, I contacted Beit al-Ansar (House of Partisans), which had been established to receive Arab mujahideen. I got the number for Beit al-Ansar from a magazine published by the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. I was received by one of the brethren who was tasked with organizing the arrival of Arab mujahideen. I arrived at the guest house affiliated with Beit al-Ansar, where I spent a few days before we were sent to various training camps and later to the front.

There were many Palestinians at the Beit al-Ansar, set up by Sheikh Abdullah Azzam. At first, the institution's operations rested on the efforts of Sheikh Abdullah and his Palestinian partisans, such as his assistant Abdullah Tamimi and others who I perhaps shouldn't mention here. It was clear that the Palestinian element was dominant; later, I learned that Osama bin Laden preferred Palestinians to other nationalities, even in his companies and commercial business, whether in Saudi Arabia or later Sudan.

After a few days at the guest house, where I met Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, we were sent to training camps, where we were supposed to spend six months. However, this was shortened to two months, due to pressure of missions outside the training camps. During this period, the bickering began between the Hizb al-Islami, led by Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, and the Islamic Association (al-Jam'iya al-Islamiyya) led by Rabbani. The forces of Ahmad Shah Masoud stood with Rabbani. The Afghan disputes were a source of great frustration. We were in Jordan and believed that when we went to Afghanistan we would find angels fighting with us, and that our jihad in that country was a prelude to our jihad in Palestine.

I was assigned to the provinces of Najjar, Taliqan, and the eastern and southern provinces. There, I found tribal loyalty as the top priority, overshadowing everything else. The Afghan mujahideen, for example, captured an Afghan communist general, and treated him well, which led to questions on my part. One day, I approached an official and asked him why we didn't execute the general, who had caused the deaths of hundreds of mujahideen. He answered that (the general) was a member of a big tribe, which we couldn't provoke. Loyalty to the tribe was more important than any other loyalty; many accounts were settled on this path of Afghan jihad.
Our sheikhs should have told us the reality of the situation before we left for this country. This wouldn't have diminished our determination to wage jihad, but it would have limited our frustration when coming into contact with the (Afghan jihad) experience.

I returned after spending six months there. At first, I was overwhelmed by the disappointments from which I suffered from Afghanistan. However, a few months later I once again began to feel a yearning for that country."

In the beginning, Fatah formed the environment for the work of Palestinian Islamists whose aspirations for involvement in military activity were not expressed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, Abdullah Azzam joined Fatah prior to 1970 and set up in Jordan what were called the "sheikhs' camps," which comprised a number of Palestinian sheikhs who were not permitted by the Muslim Brotherhood to engage in any military actions. During this decade, Saleh Siriyya arrived in Jordan, from the West Bank. After Black September in 1970 he moved to Iraq, along with his Palestinian "brother," called Abdel-Aziz Shandali. There, they met Sheikh Abdel-Aziz al-Badri, one of the most radical Islamist figures in Iraq. However, it was not long before the Baath Party killed al-Badri and pursued Siriyya and Shandali, who fled to Egypt. In Egypt, Siriyya began to build the Mohammed Youth (Shabab Mohammed) organization, or what was called the Military Faculty Organization (some of its members were students there), until he was arrested and executed. Hassan Hinniyeh, a researcher, believes that "Siriyya's impact was great on jihadist groups in Egypt, and especially on Mohammed Abdel-Salam Faraj, considered the founder of Egypt's al-Jihad Organization (Tanzim al-Jihad); he was a classmate of Siriyya at Cairo University and he clearly was influenced by him in his famous book, "al-Farida al-Gha'iba" (The Absent Religious Duty). At this time, another Palestinian arrived in Cairo, Mohammed Salem Rahhal, who was another Palestinian channel that fed the violent trend in Egyptian groups following Sayyed Qutb. Rahhal stayed at al-Azhar and began to work on spreading his call, which termed the regimes apostate and encouraged "believers" to engage in jihad against them. He was arrested by the Egyptian authorities about a year before the assassination of President Anwar Sadat and returned to Jordan, where he is today, in a mental institution in Amman.

Thus, the Palestinians preceded the Egyptians in operational jihad action in Egypt. Sayyed Qutb had published his book Signposts on the Road (Ma'alim fil-Tariq) in 1966. In it, he declares the regimes to be apostate and calls on people to fight them. However, Saleh Siriyya took over the launch of field operations through his 1974 attempt to storm the Military Faculty, and later, the role of Rahhal in Cairo became known.


During this period, the rise of Fatah represented a refuge for Palestinian national feeling, which had been shattered by the defeat in 1967. Fatah was more than a political or military organization; it was the image of Palestinian Diaspora society. Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) was the channel for merging Palestinian nationalism with ideas that went beyond it, such as Maoism, and do not end with Takfirist religious thought. In Fatah, in its capacity as an arena for these ideas, there were borrowings that had not been seen by organizations of Islamists, the left, and Marxists. Islamic radicalism, which later led to jihad networks and then al-Qaida, began to enrich its discourse with some leftist concepts, which had been absent from traditional political rhetoric, such as that of the Muslim Brotherhood. Abu Hinniyeh lays out a series of these concepts and expressions taken from the leftist lexicon and incorporated with Islamic discourse in a similar way. Imperialism has become tyranny, and regimes acting as agents of foreign powers are now apostate and renegade; the expression "firm and compact revolutionary party" has been replaced by "fighting vanguard and unique Quranic generation."

As long as Islam was a foundation of Palestinian nationalism since it began to form, the al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Buraq [upon which the Prophet Mohammed ascended to Heaven] are central symbols of this nationalism, the founding figures of which are mostly muftis and sheikhs and their sons. Hajj Amin Husseini was the mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Izzeddine al-Qassam came to Palestine from Jableh in Syria and played a basic role in Islamicizing Palestinian nationalism. Ahmad Shuqairy was the son of the mufti of Acre, As'ad al-Shuqairy. In this way, Islam became confused with Palestinian identity in Fatah.

However, radical Palestinian Islam, and to the extent that it appeared in the 1970s from Palestinian nationalism, also appeared from its denial, by substituting an Islamic State wherever such a state could be founded. Likewise, in the discourse of these groups, Palestine became a goal which should be prepared for by bringing down the entire "Arab state system." Thus, bit by bit, the Palestinian mujahidin began to distance themselves from Palestine, and the more they went in this direction, Palestine disappeared as a nation, becoming evoked as something holy, or as an idea. Perhaps these tendencies helped make approaching this holy thing resemble something that was impossible. Whenever I ask a Palestinian mujahid in Jordan who has been to Afghanistan or Iraq about the reason for choosing jihad there instead of Palestine, he answers that it is impossible and that the borders are closed. Palestine is the "delayed prayer direction (qibla) of jihad" and mujahidun have gone to Chechnya, Afghanistan, Bosnia and recently Iraq to prepare for this.

Nothing has been made ready to receive Salafi Jihadism and its al-Qaida forms as the Palestinian camps in Jordan. A shattered and contested identity between Palestine and Jordan, poverty, high population density, the presence of religion as an alternative refuge for all of these instances of dispossession. Waves of traditional religious feeling are penetrating unlimited socio-economic elements. At times, the Palestinians who came back from Kuwait after the 1991 Gulf War bring with them the components of a new culture to the religious infrastructure; at others, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi blows on the embers of this belief, while Israel performs the third step, namely sending a new group of refugees to these camps, increasing the fertility of extremism.

The 1990s produced a new generation of Palestinian "Salafi mujahidin," and they, like their predecessors in earlier decades, have turned into the stars of jihadist Islam around the world. They are people like Issam al-Barqawi (Abu Mohammed al-Maqdasi), Omar Mohammed Othman Abu Omar (Abu Qutada al-Filastini), and Omar Youssef Joumaa (Abu Anas al-Shami). al-Maqdasi and al-Shami were among the Palestinians who returned from Kuwait to Jordan after the Gulf War and Abu Qutada left Jordan in 1992 for London, where he settled and since that time has been known as the mufti of the hard-line Islamist organizations in Europe. The British authorities arrested him two years ago. Abu Anas al-Shami became the religious official for al-Zarqawi's organization in Iraq and was killed there, while Abu Mohammed al-Maqdasi remains in prison in Jordan, where he has been for a number of years.

They are the "Palestinian Afghan" generation that was not given birth to by Fatah; between these individuals and Palestine as a nation, a break has been enshrined. Palestinian is one of the two qiblas (places where one faces to pray) and to the extent that this is true, Palestine is distant. Abu Qutada left for London and Abu Anas al-Shami for Iraq. Before this, all three went to Afghanistan, instead of Palestine. However, all followers of Salafi jihad movements in Jordan affirm that the Palestinian cause is a part of the concerns of jihadist Islam, in its Salafi form, and that "activists of this orientation, wherever they go, they are headed for Palestine, if they are not (in reality)." Abu Abdullah al-Filastini says, "I left Palestine and went to Iraq. There is a Muslim people there and jihad in support of any Muslim is a victory for Palestine."

Today, however, there is a new generation of Salafi jihadists, a hybrid group, according to Jordanian security sources. It is a generation that is not being monitored, and did not go to Afghanistan. Some of this generation went to Iraq. However, their recruiting ability has grown and security agencies can no longer rely on traditional surveillance measures. It appears to have a share of the Palestinian arena in areas of the Diaspora, principally, and then in other parts of the West Bank and Gaza. Wherever you go in Palestinian refugee camps and Palestinian areas of Jordan, you feel the amount of support for radical Islamist currents. The conviction will grow that letting security organizations treat the matter isn't the only way to limit this phenomenon.

In a letter sent by Abu Mohammed al-Maqdasi from prison to al-Zarqawi, he says that he is now eyeing the western bank of the Jordan River. The letter provoked resentment by al-Zarqawi supporters in Jordan, as it was considered a dropping of the religious cover for the actions of al-Zarqawi in Iraq, and a call for beginning work in the West Bank and Gaza. There are followers of al-Maqdasi among Palestinians in Jordan, as long as those who cross from the east bank to the west bank of the river among them, while the books of Salafi jihadism have begun to enter the West Bank in large numbers. These are all indications of a beginning. As for the sign that many observers noticed, which was related to the beginning of activity by al-Qaida in the West Bank and Gaza, this involves a letter by the number two man in al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to the leadership of Hamas. In it, al-Zawahiri considers that Hamas has slipped down the road of democracy and elections, predicting that other options will become available to the Palestinians.

Palestinian security sources affirm that al-Qaida has not appointed an Amir [commander] for Palestine independent of the Amir of Sham [Greater Syria], as is the case with al-Zarqawi and his amir's position in the organization in Iraq. This means that Palestine is not a goal that is independent of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. However, these sources expect that this could take place soon. Jordanian security sources, meanwhile, see a difference in the operations of al-Qaida and its local branches. The amirs appointed by the al-Qaida mother organization for various regions are tasked with recruiting people for work outside their regions. When the mother organization wants to target Israel, it sent Pakistanis for that purpose; it had earlier used many Palestinians, but outside Palestine. Of course, this doesn't mean that local branches of al-Qaida will be formed according to the same logic, but the functions and missions of these branches will be subject to a partially independent logic.

The arrival of al-Qaida in the West Bank and Gaza is not a procedural matter. Al-Qaida has become a modus operandi and a method of thought and whoever adopts method of belief should act, which is not easy. The problem is that the dispute with al-Qaida in many Islamic circles is limited to the method of action and not the objectives. It is only technical matter to move from believe in peaceful change to using violent means. In Palestine, it is easy to narrow this distance between the two, in light of the continuing failure of the peace process.

A friend of a religious official in the Qaida of Islam in Iraq organization, Abu Anas al-Shami, says that he was a reformist salafi and didn't believe in violence to spread the word. His transformation only took a few months, which he spent in prison, when he met up with a number of jihadists, who were able to transfer his allegiance. Abu Anas left prison and waited for the opportunity to join al-Zarqawi, which is what took place. Abu Anas, in his version of the first battle of Falluja in 2004, indicates more than once the weakness of his military education, as well as his fear and hesitation. These are rare terms in the vocabulary of jihadists.


Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000094.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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