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Monday, February 02, 2004

al Qaeda's global plan simple as 1-2-3

Destroy U.S., establish Islamic empire, then target Israel
Washington Times: TEL AVIV — Israeli intelligence officials believe that al Qaeda has largely spared the Jewish state from terrorist attacks as part of a global plan to first destroy the United States and establish an Islamic empire before targeting Israel.

This consensus is based on constant and intensive monitoring of al Qaeda's operations, and statements and analysis of its leadership's beliefs, Israeli intelligence officials said. Osama bin Laden and his followers have been under scrutiny here since the late 1990s — at least two years before September 11.

Al Qaeda's presence in the Palestinian territories today is limited to rank-and-file operatives, usually Palestinians or Jordanians, who are closely monitored by Israeli intelligence. The operatives maintain close links with Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations, two groups responsible for most of the suicide bombings targeting the Jewish state...

Reuven Paz, a veteran of Israel's intelligence apparatus, said the goal set for al Qaeda 20 years ago by its main ideologist, the late Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian, is to create a single Islamic state that would encompass the world. Azzam was killed 14 years ago in Afghanistan by a bomb planted in his automobile.

A key short-term objective, according to Ronen Bergman, a prominent Israeli writer who also has an extensive background in his country's intelligence apparatus, is "to destabilize" the various Arab and other Muslim states. As a result of the American onslaught against al Qaeda's former bases in eastern Afghanistan, its terrorist network has been "dispersed," he said. He cited its subsequent operations in Morocco, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Turkey...

Al Qaeda's ideology contradicts Islam's traditionally conciliatory attitude toward "the protected religions," Judaism and Christianity, according to Col. Halevi. This changed largely because of "radical Islam's hatred of the U.S. and other Western countries as leaders of the Christian world," he said. "The U.S. is viewed as a global infidel force menacing Islam with its ideology, social and economic values, and hostile policy seen in terms of a modern Crusader war against Islam."

He attributed the idea of indiscriminate mass murder of Christians to Suliman Abu Ghaith, a prominent al Qaeda leader, who contends that Muslims "have the right to kill 4 million Americans, including a million children, to displace 8 million Americans and to cripple hundreds of thousands more."