Fatah al-Islam terrorists, Lebanon (archive)
Fatah al-Islam terrorists, Lebanon (archive) Israel News Photo: (file)

An al-Qaeda branch apparently active in Lebanon claims to have launched attacks on Israel. The group mocks the Iran-backed Hizbullah terrorist organization and calls for a unified front against Israel and the United Nations under the command of Osama Bin-Laden.

The call to jihad was issued in a video recording released this past week by al-Qaeda of al-Sham, a region known as

These actions, the video claims, were carried out under the direct command of Bin-Laden.

"Greater Syria" encompassing Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and parts of Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. The brief video, titled "Penetrating the Fortresses", includes statements by al-Qaeda senior leaders such as Osama Bin-Laden, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Ayman al-Zawahiri relating to the jihadist front with Israel. The jihadists, they say, will not sit quietly and will even crawl to get to the front and "free Palestine".

As an example, the video explains and visually demonstrates how a cell from al-Qaeda of al-Sham (AQASH) supposedly bypassed the Lebanese Army, Hizbullah and UNIFIL forces, launched missiles towards Israel, and then retreated undetected. These actions, the video claims, were carried out under the direct command of Bin-Laden, and it calls for more such attacks against the Jewish State.

The AQASH video claim of responsibility for a rocket attack apparently refers to a January 8, 2009 barrage from southern Lebanon that hit the Israeli city of Nahariya. Three Katyusha rockets injured two people and caused significant property damage. At the time, Hizbullah denied involvement in the incident.

The al-Qaeda cell claims to have perpetrated or having tried to perpetrate additional attacks on Israel, as well. "Some were launched and some were foiled," the video said flatly.

AQASH calls for the Fatah al-Islam jihadist group, which was once a Syrian front group, and other Islamist organizations in Lebanon to join them in their effforts: "Al-Qaeda is already active in [Lebanon and elsewhere in Greater Syria] and the father-leader, Bin-Laden, must be obeyed."

Regarding Lebanon, AQASH calls for the cancellation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, because it "is only for the benefit of the Israelis." The video further criticizes Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who "decried the actions of the jihadists who fired the Katyushas towards Israel as collaborators of the Israelis", even though during the last Israeli operation in Gaza, "he did nothing and even agreed that the Crusader forces (UNIFIL) can base themselves in southern Lebanon." The AQASH voiceover taunts Nasrallah, "So now who are the collaborators?"

The Lebanon-based al-Qaeda branch declared that "Hizbullah is using the Palestinian cause to fulfill Iran's orders."

'Al-Qaeda Will Try to Assert Itself'

Security analysts with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR) expect increased terror activity aimed at Western interests inside Lebanon as the "Greater Syria" al-Qaeda affiliate asserts itself.

"Aside from the named United Nations troops in southern Lebanon, Lebanese government and Western organizations and NGOs are likely to be targeted, as are hotels used by Westerners" the ITRR sources said.

Apparently intended as part of this trend, a large al-Qaeda cell was alleged by Lebanese authorities to have been plotting attacks against UN troops in Southern Lebanon. On July 22, the Lebanese army said it arrested ten people involved in the plot.

Shalev blamed Lebanon for failing to halt the delivery of Iranian weapons.

Collusion Between Hizbullah and Lebanese Authorities

While an al-Qaeda-affiliated threat to Israel appears to be forming in southern Lebanon, Hizbullah logistical and material supply chains are receiving silent acceptance by the Lebanese authorities.

The latter claim was part of a speech delivered to the United Nations Security Council on Monday by Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriella Shalev. The explosion that took place in a village in southern Lebanon two weeks ago, which revealed a Hizbullah cache under the noses of UNIFIL, was symptomatic of "a dangerous phenomenon that Israel has been warning about for years."

Shalev blamed Lebanon for failing to halt the delivery of Iranian weapons into the hands of Hizbullah. The Lebanese-Syrian border is porous, she explained, which entailed a breach of UN resolutions on rearming Hizbullah. The behavior of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, she said, is an example of "the danger posed to our region by Iran."