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Friday, May 20, 2005

Analysis: Al-Qaeda in Gaza

I'm a little cynical....
A new Muslim terrorist group linked to al-Qaida has started operating in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority security officials told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Jundallah, or 'Allah's Brigades,' consists mostly of scores of former Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, the officials disclosed. They said Jundallah gunmen launched their first attack on IDF soldiers near Rafah earlier this week.

The IDF said four soldiers were lightly wounded in the attack.

Jundallah is a radical Muslim group that has close ties with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, said one official. 'We know for sure that the group is especially active in the southern Gaza Strip,' he added.

Another official said that, according to intelligence gathered by the PA security forces, Jundallah consists largely of Hamas and Islamic Jihad dissidents who were unhappy with their groups' ostensible pragmatism.

'They believe that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have become too moderate,' the official said, referring to the two groups' agreement to temporarily suspend terror attacks on Israel.
Call me crazy, but historically, every time any Muslim terrorist group shows the slightest wisp of pretense of being a little bit less murderous, a more murderous group emerges. This can be explained in two ways:
  1. Either the terrorists are truly upset at the fact that they can't murder at quite the same rate they like to murder, or
  2. The more "moderate" terror groups gain something by the existence of a more "extreme" group.
What can Hamas gain from the existence of a proported al-Qaeda group in Gaza? The answer is simple - just look what the PA gains by the existence of Hamas:

  • Hamas now will look more "moderate" to the world and in comparison increases its chances of being accepted politically by Europe.
  • Any time an agreement with Israel is breached, Hamas can claim, "Hey, it wasn't us peaceful terrorists - it was the evil Al-Qaeda guys!"
It is a way for them to continue terror campaigns unabated while fooling the gullible Western press into thinking that they have become more "pragmatic."

It is a page out of Yassir Arafat's playbook, and why not? It worked beautifully for him and for Abbas.

It is of course entirely possible that Al-Qaeda has interest in making a token effort fighting Jews to regain some "street-cred" in the Arab world; after all, nothing makes you more popular than killing Jews in that part of the world. But I am tending to think that this is not a rival group but a partner.

See this for a different take.