< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Thursday, August 05, 2004

al Qaeda actively seeking a presence in the Terror-tories

Matthew Gutman in the Jerusalem Post: Al-Qaida elements are working to carve out a bridgehead in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by exploiting the anarchy in the Palestinian Authority, according to Aksa Martyrs Brigades leader Zacharia Zubeidi.

The Jenin-based Zubeidi's comments are the first Palestinian acknowledgement that al-Qaida is actively seeking a presence in the West Bank or Gaza.

The revelation complements IDF warnings that al-Qaida has probed Palestinian weak spots to find possible avenues for extending its jihad beyond Afghanistan and Iraq to here.

The disarray of the Palestinian polity "gives organizations like al-Qaida the chance to intervene. What we see right now in Iraq will come to Jenin also if we are not careful," Zubeidi told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.

Still in hiding after having survived five IDF assassination attempts, Zubeidi said al-Qaida is specifically working to "find a nesting place in the West Bank."

PA Police Chief Maj.-Gen. Sa'eb al-Ajez denied any extant or future al-Qaida role among Palestinian militants. "This group or others will have no place among the Palestinians," he said Wednesday evening.