Osama Bin-Laden, head of the international jihadist terror organization Al-Qaeda, issued a new call for Palestinian Authority Muslims to fight against the Americans and their allies in Iraq - as a step on the path to the destruction of Israel.
The audio tape of Bin-Laden, broadcast on the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite TV network on Thursday, included
"The nearest field of jihad today to support our people in Palestine is the Iraqi field."
a call for a renewed "holy war" on Israel. For its part, Bin-Laden declared, Al-Qaeda would increase its efforts to "free Palestine, all of Palestine, from the Jordan [River] to the [Mediterranean] Sea."
Among what Al-Jazeera newscasters said were excerpts from a new recording, Bin-Laden said: "My speech is about the Gaza siege and the way to retrieve it and the rest of Palestine from the hands of the Zionist enemy. Our enemies did not take it by negotiations and dialog, but with fire and iron. And this is the way to get it back."
The Saudi-born Islamic fundamentalist linked the jihad against Israel with the Iraqi insurgency: "The nearest field of jihad today to support our people in Palestine is the Iraqi field."
Bin-Laden added that those of "our brothers in Palestine who could not join the jihad in the land of Al-Quds [Jerusalem]" should "get rid of illusions of political parties and groups which are mired in trickery of the blasphemous democracy and to take their positions among the ranks of the mujahideen in Iraq."
The latest Bin-Laden audiotape follows on the heels of a recording publicized one day earlier, in which the Al-Qaeda leader threatened European nations with "severe" retaliation for the publication of cartoons mocking Islam's founder, Mohammad. The Al-Qaeda leader also accused the Pope of launching a "new Crusade" against Islam.
Earlier this month, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an Al-Qaeda franchise in North Africa, linked its anti-Western activities back to Israel, as well. In a communique, the group announced that it was holding two Austrian tourists who were kidnapped in Tunisia in late February. AQIM threatened that more Westerners would be kidnapped and held in response to Israeli operations in Gaza and elsewhere.
Not the First Al-Qaeda Threat Directed at Israel
In December of last year, Bin-Laden issued an audio recording in which he addressed the Arabs of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, saying, "I have not forgotten your struggle, and we plan to expand our jihad to Palestine as well. We intend to liberate all of Palestine, from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea."
In that recording, Bin-Laden mocked unnamed "other Muslim leaders," because, unlike them, "we don't recognize
The Al-Qaeda leader threatened European nations with "severe" retaliation.
even one centimeter of Palestinian land [sic] as belonging to the Jews." Even Hizbullah is too moderate, Bin-Laden feels, for having agreed to the stationing in southern Lebanon of an international peacekeeping force "to protect the Jews."
According to its foundational ideology, Al-Qaeda sees its mission as fighting against the "Jews and the Crusaders [i.e., Christians]" in a worldwide jihad until Islam reigns supreme. The various theaters of battle in which Al-Qaeda is involved and the various states in which it is operating - such as North Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, etc. - are considered by Al-Qaeda strategists to be different fronts in a global struggle for domination.
Al-Qaeda in Gaza
Defense officials have warned that Al-Qaeda operatives managed to infiltrate Gaza since the Hamas takeover of the region in 2006. The Al-Qaeda members are reportedly active in local terrorist cells.
In February, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that Al Qaeda agents crossed into Gaza from Egypt when Hamas gunmen blew up the barrier separating the PA from Egyptian Sinai in January. As far back as 2006, Abbas told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, "We have indications about the presence of Al-Qaeda in Gaza and [Judea and Samaria]. This is intelligence information."