debkafile: Al Qaeda terror attacks in S. Israel and central Damascus and Zarqawi’s outburst against Shiites and Hizballah are part and parcel of s
debkafile‘s al Qaeda experts see the events of the last 24 hours as segments of the same broad-based strategic initiative.
In Beirut, the anti-Syrian Lebanese government coalition, working with the UN, the United States, France and Israel, have made no progress in getting the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah terror group and its 15-20,000-strong militia to disarm.
Thursday night, June 1, this coalition found support in a most improbable quarter: al Qaeda’s Iraq commander, Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
In a three-part audiotape over the Internet, Zarqawi said that as long as Shiites whom he calls “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” are not finished off, “true Islam will not prevail.” Calling on fellow Sunnis in Iraq to reject reconciliation and national unity as a weapon of surrender, the speaker blasted Iraq’s Shiite leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani as the leader of “infidelity and atheism.” Zarqawi also attacked the Mahdi Army militia led by radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr for giving up the fight against US forces.
But where the al Qaeda broke new ground was in his attack on Hizballah whose deployment along the Lebanese-Israel frontier, he claimed, interferes with Sunni (al Qaeda) plans to strike Israel from there. The pledges of aid to the Palestinians given by Hizballah’s head, Hassan Nasrallah were castigated as empty talk.
debkafile‘s al Qaeda experts link this peroration to al Qaeda’s operations against the multinational force in Sinai, on May 31, and the apparently coordinated strikes on an Israeli patrol in the Negev and key buildings in central Damascus of June 2. (See separate items on this page)
For one, Zarqawi’s followers were willing to take on the IDF in a head-on clash; for the second, to strike at the most sensitive installations in central Damascus. The two attacks are evidence of his mounting confidence in the operational capabilities of al Qaeda’s Middle East networks outside as well as inside Iraq. Hizballah is now investigating the suspicion that the murder of Mahmoud Majzub and his brother Nidal in Sidon, South Lebanon, on May 26 – for which the Israeli Mossad was blamed – was the work of a Zarqawi cell as a prelude to his broadside against Shiites and the Hizballah in particular.
Majzub, according to debkafile‘s counter-terror sources, was Hizballah’s senior liaison man with the Palestinian controllers who run suicide bombers from the West Bank against Israeli targets.
Zaraqawis’ vicious anti-Shiite rhetoric does not mean that the al Qaeda leader has withdrawn from collaborative projects with Shiite Iran and the Hizballah when their aims converge. Ideological differences do not interfere with the practical goals shared by the three terrorist elements.