In the second half of July 2005, al Qaeda called on the young men of the Islamic world to mobilize for the Iraq war.
(DNW 216 July 29, 2005: The New World Jihad Fully Harnessed to Drive the Americans out of Iraq).
The effects of this call are palpable up until the present. According to intelligence estimates some 10-20,000 volunteers signed up at al Qaeda’s makeshift recruiting stations in their home countries, and between 4,000 and 6,000 set out for the embattled country.
Not all arrived. Since the jihad call was issued, this figure has been whittled down to 2,000 fighters, who were trained in bases along the journeys to Iraq in Lebanon, Syria, Somalia and Sudan.
Another 2,000 to 3,000 swelled the ranks of local al Qaeda networks along the way.
These added numbers were reflected in the composition of the networks rolled up in recent weeks in Jordan and Syria and the cells embedded in Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. The proportion of “foreign Arabs” killed in battles with local security forces was often found to be 40% or as many as 50% – usually of Algerians, Moroccans or Middle Eastern nationals.
A surplus of “holy warriors” has emerged, enabling al Qaeda to allocate fresh forces to the opening of new fronts.
One such front is Israel, as DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror experts have been predicting now for the past few weeks.
(See the DNW 233 of December 9: Jordan and Israel see a Zarqawi terror spillover).
This prognosis was strengthened further from the horse’s mouth on December 12, when Al Qaeda released a special religious treatise devoted for the first time in its history solely to “the Sons of Zion.”
This 500-word treatise has been disseminated in the Muslim world in the same way as the call-up for jihad in Iraq – by al Qaeda’s usual methods of courier and Internet.
The text is a collection of Koranic verses and decrees phrased in flowery language, which our experts and monitors render here for the first time.
The text is titled Land of the Border – the term al Qaeda applies to the Israel-Palestinian arena, just as Iraq is the Land of the Two Rivers and Saudi Arabia, Land of the Two Shrines.
It is headed by the 14th Verse of the Koran’s Chapter on Repentance (Tawba): Fight them, Allah will punish them with your hands and degrade them and heal the hearts of the nation of believers.
The theological rationale for jihad
From al Qaeda’s Treatise: Praise to Allah who made jihad an honor for believers and ignominy for infidels. Praise to Allah who declared the place of the Prophet Mohammed’s ascent to heaven (Temple Mount in Jerusalem) the place of recruitment and combat until the rising of the dead.
Praise to Allah who bestowed victory on the people of Jerusalem and promised they would come to no harm from their foes.
DNW: This is clearly a recruitment campaign for volunteers to fight in places sacred to the three faiths, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, i.e.Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. Muslims believe that upon the Resurrection, a slender bridge made of the hair of one of the Prophet’s steeds will take form to link Temple Mount with the Mount of Olives. When the risen dead cross the bridge, righteous believers will pass safely to the other side and reach Temple Mount, while infidels and sinners will fall to the valley below, the Hinnom Valley.
Naturally, only Palestinian Muslims residents of Jerusalem deserve victory.
Al Qaeda’s strategic positions on Israel’s borders
From al Qaeda’s Treatise: We behold the Sons of Zion’s infidel army withdrawing the last remnants of its forces from pure Gaza under the clash of swords and whistle of bullets.
DNW: There are two firsts here: the reference to Israel’s armed forces and the term Sons of Zion. The occasion of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip of September evokes the same call as al Qaeda’s past rally for a holy war against US forces in Iraq.
From al Qaeda’s Treatise: Behold how the Islamic youth in their black hoods conducted themselves on the borders of Palestine in Taba, Sharm el-Sheikh and Aqaba
DNW: The writers is talking about the 2004 Taba bombings, the July 2005 Sharm al-Sheikh attacks and the combined Katyusha rocket attacks on US warships in Aqaba port and Israel’s Eilat in August 2005.
From al Qaeda’s Treatise: And America is beginning to shout with pain from the blows in Iraq and with the help of Allah is beginning to withdraw. Let us not forget the typhoons and the soldiers smiting in the service of Allah.
DNW: In all its latest publications on Iraq, al Qaeda refers to the war as a foregone victory for itself and an American defeat. The US withdrawal from Iraq in the short term is depicted as defeat and retreat under fire, in the same way as the Israeli evacuation of Gaza is treated by the Palestinians as a victory for their arms.
First operational conclusion – recruitment
From al Qaeda’s Treatise: Islamic youth which fights everywhere must embrace the honor of fighting and nourishing the war against the Sons of Zion within their borders and in every other part of the world!
And with the help of Allah, we shall strike from the inside, and our men who have begun preparing the blow will not stop in mid-course or desist until the flags of righteousness are unfurled in every corner.
DNW: This call leaves no doubt that al Qaeda is making a universal declaration of war against the Jewish state within its boundaries and against Israeli and Jewish targets wherever they may be. Since Al Qaeda, according to our experts, never issues operational treatises of this nature until its troops are deployed in the battlefield and poised for action, the inference is that the jihadist organization is fully prepared for at least the first round of the campaign, its first attacks inside Israel.
(See DNW 233, Dec. 9, 2005: Al Qaeda Establishes First Contacts inside Israel)
Second operational conclusion – the Palestinians
From al Qaeda’s Treatise: Therefore, al Qaeda turns to the warriors of Hamas, Jihad Islami, Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees and tells them to resist all attempts to silence their guns. Do not heed the politicians who promise you the whole world in the municipal and legislative councils. Do not listen to the governments bowing under the roof of Oslo and obeying American decisions and commands.
DNW: This passage is addressed to the chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. It refers to the Palestinian municipal elections and the vote for the legislative council on January 15, 2006. The governments that should not be heeded are those of Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas.
This passage ends in Koran verse 52 from The Table chapter:
May Allah bring victory or make known his ordinance; then they shall regret what they had hidden in themselves.
Final conclusions – al Qaeda will exploit American and Israeli mistakes
In the columns of a lavish new al Qaeda monthly published in print and the Internet last July, an anonymous writer dwelt on what he called America’s biggest mistake in Iraq – and biggest favor to al Qaeda – the destruction of the Baath movement. Arab nationalism was ever the greatest foe of Islam and is now gone for good. “We are now able to demonstrate by day and by night on Iraqi soil that it is the jihadists who are fighting the Americans rather than Iraqi freedom fighters.”
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iraq experts commented at the time that the writer indirectly cast aspersions on the Iraqi Sunni and Baath representatives who joined the Americans in peace negotiations and hinted at the broadening Zarqawi-led offensive.
“Iraq,” the writer said, “is the crucible in which nationalism melts away and is reborn as jihad, in which conflict is distilled into a war to drive the Americans out of Iraq, and in which Islam confronts its foes in open combat.”
He then asserted that America can be beaten in Iraq and argued, “We have managed to wound America on the Iraqi battlefield. George Bush is faltering like a boxer after a mighty blow.”
(This was reported at the time by DNW 216 July 29, 2005)
Now, five months later, another al Qaeda writer dwells on Israel’s strategic blunder in withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and thereby opening the way for the fundamentalist terror group to open a front against Israel from close proximity.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s experts emphasize that in all its twenty years, Osama bin Laden‘s organization never once treated Israel as a front or a primary target – only a secondary operational objective. The jihadists turned aside from an entity that appeared to them impregnable and impenetrable. But now that its cells are established on Israeli borders in Sinai and the Gaza Strip and its planners have a close view of Israel’s security vulnerabilities on the West Bank and borders with Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, they find analogies between Israel and the American situation in Iraq.
Al Qaeda’s leaders do not delude themselves that they can destroy Israel, but the tone of this new treatise betrays their conviction that creating Iraq Number 2 is within their grasp.