Al Qaeda claims to be operating a “Sunni Youth” terrorist cell in Jerusalem, another example of how Muslim extremism is growing throughout the Middle East.

The "Sunni Youth Movement Cell in Greater Jerusalem” issued its first message Monday night, according to Debkafile, an Israeli website that  is often criticized for using unidentified sources and rumors but whose reports often turn out to be true.

The site reported that Israeli intelligence officials have advised the government to treat the alleged Al Qaeda claim as serious

Last month, the number of terrorist attacks against Israelis almost doubled from the previous month, rising from 44 in November to 81 in December.

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) singled out the Jerusalem area as registering the largest increase in attacks.

Leading politicians pooh-poohed reports several years ago that Al Qaeda had infiltrated into Gaza, but later developments bore out the rumors, and dozens of terrorist cells now are linked to the Al Qaeda network among Bedouin in the Negev and in the Sinai Peninsula.

The presence of  Al Qaeda in Jerusalem would be a logical escalation of intense Muslim extremism fueled by the Arab Spring uprisings that have deposed autocrats but have left a vacuum for terrorist groups to assume power.

The IDF has warned that terrorists will try to use the diplomatic impasse between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to execute attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Another impetus for terrorists is the recent release by Israel of more than 1,000 terrorists and security prisoners for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

After the deal was concluded, Hamas and other terrorist groups immediately announced their aim is to kidnap more Israelis as bargaining chips for more prisoner releases and concessions.