Al Qaeda, Palestinians Prepare Mega-terror for Israel
Monday, December 2, five days after the event, Al Qaeda took formal responsibility for the two attacks against Israeli targets at Kenya’s Indian Ocean resort of Mombasa last Thursday, November 28, in which 16 people died – 13 Kenyans and three Israelis.
Several hours before al Qaeda posted its admission, three prominent Israeli security figures suddenly found their voices on the dangers posed by al Qaeda and the grave implications as regards Israel’s abilities to fight back.
For many months, Israeli spokesmen kept quiet about the international fundamentalist terror network’s presence in Israel, first exposed by debkafilelast April, despite al Qaeda’s advancing collaboration with Hizballah in support of Palestinian terrorism.
The brutal murder of 21 celebrants at the Park Hotel Passover feast in Netanya on March 27, 2002, provided cover for the first contingent of 15-20 heavily armed al Qaeda men to land on Netanya beach from the sea. The week before, an earlier group of Osama bin Laden’s men poured across the Syrian-Israeli frontier on the Golan and stole south through the West Bank gulley of Wadi Kharmiyeh, until they reached prepared hideouts in Ramallah and the Nablus district.
Monday, December 2, under the impact of the attacks in Kenya, Defense minister Shaul Mofaz finally confirmed that the al Qaeda network had sent “octopus arms not only into countries on the other side of the ocean but also to our region.”
Chief of staff Lt. General Moshe Yaalon was a little more specific. He told reporters that al Qaeda operatives had landed in this country and planned terror attacks that were foiled. He stressed that the network also used Palestinians, but insisted that the threats from al Qaeda, the prime suspect in the attacks in Mombasa, had been eliminated both at home and abroad.
The message acknowledging responsibility for the attack was monitored by Israeli TV Channel 2 on five pro-al Qaeda websites. It was signed unusually by the group’s “political bureau” and noted: “This is the second time we strike from Kenya – after the US embassies bombings – but this time we hit the Jews in revenge for Israeli actions in Palestinian territories. Your women for ours, your old for ours, your children for ours. You have cast a siege of hunger around the Palestinians, we shall cast a siege of fear over you.”
The message goes on to crow: “In the face of international persecution, we are able to carry out operations against the Jewish-Crusader Front.” The Mombasa attacks were held up as “a slap in the face for the CIA and the Mossad in this part of Africa.”
Al Qaeda never dignifies the Jewish state with its name – only “the Jews” in keeping with its all-round objectives.
debkafile‘sexperts on terror assert that al Qaeda terrorists are in this country at the invitation of Yasser Arafat and with logistical support approved by him in person. He imported the Hizballah first, then Osama bin Laden’s Islamic fighters, to advance his single, never-changing goal, to fight Israel until it is destroyed. In the last six months, therefore, while the diplomats and politicians spun their plans, road maps and ceasefire schemes, Arafat surreptitiously turned this country into an international center for the most dangerous professional terrorists alive. He gathered under his wing an assemblage of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hizballah, JIbril’s Popular Front – General Command, Iraqi military intelligence and the pro-Iraqi Arab Liberation Front, joined in April by al Qaeda.
The same crosscut of terrorist groups is present nowhere else but the United States, although there they are mostly sleeper cells. In the Israel-Palestinian areas, all the terrorist groups compete for a piece of the action and are eager to help Arafat terrorize Israel out of existence.
The year 2002 is therefore characterized by the leading Islamic fundamentalist and likeminded terror groups taking advantage of the Palestinian leader’s “hospitality” to strike roots inside Israel’s borders.
This year of terror falls into four parts:
1. Raising arms and personnel:From January to March, a river of terrorist weapons and explosive materials was smuggled into the Palestinian Authority from Jordan and Lebanon but mostly from Iran. The Karine-A arms ship was captured, but others certainly made it through to destination. The terrorists arrived in the trail of the arms, slipping in by secret routes through Jordan, the Golan, North Sinai and Israel’s shores, to be picked up and hosted by Arafat’s men. This influx consisted of between 150 and 250 trained terror operatives with heavy weapons, such as various types of portable missiles.
2. First operations:These incoming terror cells landed raring for action. debkafile‘s military and counter-terror sources report that al Qaeda operatives were since discovered to have struck in March and April in some of the deadliest attacks Israel ever suffered. They targeted hotels in Netanya, wedding halls and restaurants in Haifa, Ashdod and Tel Aviv and West Bank roadblocks at Wadi Kharmieh and Adora. Their commanders in Iran, Syria and Lebanon, like Arafat, while rejoicing over the high Israeli death toll from these attacks, did not commend the newcomers’ zeal. The imported al Qaeda terror experts had been told to go to ground until they were called out for the mega-attacks designed to finish Israel in the final stage of the conflict.
3. Summer inertia:From May to November, these foreign cells were quiescent, quietly improving their communications skills and gathering intelligence.
4. Back in action:In November, orders for the cells to return to action issued from al Qaeda’s senior command posts in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Lebanon and from Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah. debkafile‘s military and counter-terror sources report that the first attack in this cycle was the crafty ambush laid in Hebron on Friday night, November 15, in which 12 Israeli officers, troops and security men were gunned down.
Next came the bombing-attack at the Mombasa Paradise Hotel on November 28, together with the missile strike that missed an Israeli airliner carrying 260 passengers aboard. Later that day, gunmen went on a shooting-grenade assault on a Likud polling station in the northern town of Beit Shean, killing six Israelis.
That night, a mega-terror strike was rumored to have been thwarted in Jerusalem, although a court gag order prevented its publication.
This penultimate stage for the year 2002 is viewed by our experts as the prelude to a mega-terror offensive already in the works. External and Palestinian terrorists are expected to combine for an escalating cycle of attacks to culminate in one such mega-strike staged by al Qaeda or Hizballah terrorist cells.
This is what the former Mossad chief and current national security adviser, Efraim Halevy, was talking about in his lecture on Monday, December 2, several hours before al Qaeda owned up to the Mombasa strikes.
Halevy spoke of the mega-terror menace hanging over Israel as essentially one of “genocide” with the aim of destroying Israel to its very foundations. “To meet a threat on this scale,” he said, “Israel possesses a broad and diverse array of capabilities, some of them not yet revealed.” Inherent in Israel’s national security balance, he explained, is the ability to countervail menaces of this kind. Should the danger come to pass, that ability will take the conflict to a new plane which, Halevy was sure, would be understood and accepted by world opinion.
debkafile‘smilitary and counter-terror sources have no doubt that the Israeli prime minister’s chief emissary for delicate foreign assignments was hinting darkly both at an unconventional threat to Israel, that could take the form of a large-scale massacre, and at the Jewish state’s forceful retaliation by means of weapons and war tactics never yet brought into use. Such a counter-strike could well be pre-emptive. For Israel’s policy-makers, the first danger signals flared in Hebron and Mombasa. On Monday, December 2, they published a dire warning as to their potential response.