October 21, 2004
by Louis Rene Beres , Herbert I. London
Linking al Qaeda to Iraqi terrorist impulses was one of the tasks of the September 11 commission. And despite claims to the contrary from the Democratic hopefuls, there were linkages. In the shadowy network of terrorist groups, there are often alignments involving information-sharing, weapons development, safe houses and scientific expertise.
The unmistakable rationale for these alignments is future terror attacks against the United States and Israel. None of this is surprising. Immediately after September 11, 2001, not only Hamas approached al Qaeda, but Yasser Arafat's own forces, Al Aqsa Brigades, did so too.
Although Palestinian terrorists hardly needed al Qaeda to prod them to commit acts of unspeakable cruelty, the example of September 11 offered direction and new resolve. For its part, al Qaeda has been pleased its Palestinian allies cite the Hadith: "Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews and their supporters."
The idea of killing on behalf of Islam is glorified both by the Palestinian terror organization and al Qaeda. In addition to the usual sanctification of suicide bombing, both groups approve of religious-based murder within the Islamic community.
Muslims who collaborate with the United States or are suspected of doing so are deemed Murtaddun (apostates) and a sentence of Murtadd Harbi is applied - to wit, a Fatwa or death sentence. The pertinent Koranic verse is: "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Prophet and strive to make mischief in the land, is only this - that they should be murdered or crucified, or their hands and feet should be cut off on opposing sides."
While al Qaeda's hatred of the United States is only tangentially related to American support of Israel, the Palestinian terror groups focus on this issue exclusively. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for all these organizations to target the presumptively "unforgivable" sin of American ties to "apostates and criminals" who rule in Kuwait, Jordan, the Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
On Dec. 2, 2002, al Qaeda announced establishment of the "Islamic al Qaeda Organization in Palestine." The announcement declared "a vow of allegiance to the emir of the Mujahideen, the leader Osama bin Laden, by means of whom Allah strengthened the Nation of Islam." Calling for an end to regimes that "serve only the murderous Jews and the Great Satan," the announcement concludes with a plea to "our brothers in Islam in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to attack the American interests and the heretical institutions of apostasy.... Death to the Jews and Zionism; death to America; strength to Allah, Allah is great, and victory to Islam."
Although rarely reported in the West, al Qaeda now operates in the West Bank and Gaza at Mr. Arafat's expressed invitation, and with substantial logistical support. Mr. Arafat had imported Hezbollah fighters from Iran and Syria to assist with terrorist attacks against Israel; now he has added Osama bin Laden's Islamic fighters to the deadly terrorist mix.
According to authoritative Israeli intelligence sources, Mr. Arafat assembled under his wing Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, Jibril's Popular Front, Iraqi military intelligence units (Palestinian terrorists were always close to Saddam, even sending Palestine Liberation Army units to help torture Kuwaitis in 1991), the pro-Iraqi Arab liberation Front, and, since April 2002, al Qaeda. Significantly, the same Israeli sources believe the same crosscut of Islamic terrorist groups exists nowhere else but in the United States - though at the moment "only" as sleeper cells.
There is probably little doubt terror strikes against the United States and Israel are being planned by joint Palestinian terrorist groups and al Qaeda, supported tactically by Hezbollah. Acknowledging this, Efraim Halevy - former Mossad chief and national security adviser - correctly identified the mega-terror menace as authentically "genocidal." Speaking on Dec. 2, 2002, Mr. Halevy emphasized Israel would respond to such barbarous attacks in ways that "have not yet been revealed." The United States, too, would surely respond in ways that could bring counterterrorist operations to new levels.
Arguably, the most important perception that emerges from this analysis is the terror network has no walls between the various organizations. Palestinian terrorists have friendly allies in al Qaeda and vice versa. It is therefore absurd to think Mr. Arafat is a potential American friend and Osama bin Laden an enemy. They are both enemies.
Faced with the potential of al Qaeda-Palestinian terror, Americans should understand the unavoidably best approach to threats of mass destruction is timely, vigorous and dedicated pre-emption against all who threaten us and our interests.
At a minimum, we should stop sending our tax dollars to Yasser Arafat and his corrupt Palestinian Authority.
This article appeared in The Washington Times on October 17, 2004.
Louis Rene Beres is Professor of International Law at Purdue University. He was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli security matters, terrorism, war, and international law. His work is well-known to the military and intelligence communities in Israel, to the Prime Minister and to the IDF General Staff. Profesor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs Analyst for The Jewish Press in New York City.
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