Al-Qaida in Iraq threatens Israel
The purported leader of al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq called
in a new posting on a militant Web site on Thursday for
attacks on Israel and proposed that Iraq's territory be a
"launching pad" to seize Jerusalem.
In the 30-minute audiotape, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, said to
head the Islamic State of Iraq, lashed out at Arab and
Palestinian groups — especially the Palestinian Hamas — for
failing to liberate the Palestinians.
He also called on Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam
Brigades, to break away from the group's political
leadership and liberate Jerusalem, or Al-Quds as the city
is called in Arabic.
The new posting came as Israeli security instructed
embassies and Jewish institutions around the world to go on
alert for fear of revenge attacks for a car bomb that
killed a top-wanted terrorist, Imad Mughniyeh, late Tuesday
in the Syrian capital.
Hezbollah has accused Israel of killing the militant, whose
funeral was being held Thursday, but Israel has denied
that. The one-time Hezbollah security chief was the
suspected mastermind of attacks that killed hundreds of
Americans in Lebanon.
The posting also came in the wake of concerns expressed
this week by the director of U.S. national intelligence
that al-Qaida in Iraq is shifting its focus to attacks
elsewhere in the region. Mike McConnell told a U.S. Senate
hearing on Tuesday that the terror network "may deploy
resources to mount attacks outside" Iraq.
The authenticity of Thursday's audiotape could not be
independently verified, but it was distributed by
al-Furqan, one of al-Qaida's media production wings and
posted on more than one Islamic Web site that usually carry
No photo has ever appeared of al-Baghdadi, whom the U.S.
describes as a fictitious character used to give an Iraqi
face to an organization dominated by foreigners. The U.S.
has said that under interrogation, a top al-Qaida member
revealed that al-Baghdadi's speeches are read by an actor.
Al-Baghdadi has often echoed the messages of al-Qaida
leader Osama bin Laden, who in his last audiotape on Dec.
29, assured Palestinians that the terror network will
expand its holy war, or jihad, to Palestine which it
intends to liberate.
In the latest audiotape, al-Baghdadi also threatened
moderate Palestinians, saying that jihad makes "no
distinctions between the infidel Jews and the renegade
Palestinians ... between (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud)
Olmert and his criminals and (Palestinian President
Mahmoud) Abbas and his gang."
He called the state of Israel a "wicked germ sown in the
(Palestinian) nation's body which should be uprooted, even
if the traitors signed thousands of surrender treaties."
Much of the audiotape was devoted to threats against Hamas
political leaders "who betrayed the nation and turned
against the blood of the martyrs," al-Baghdadi said, also
saying that Hamas has been pressuring its military wing not
to stage rocket attacks on Israel but to accept a truce.
Al-Baghdadi called for "opening new fronts to ease the
American and Jewish pressure off the Palestinians while
bolstering the fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan." He urged
every "working Muslim to spare 2 dollars a month, half of
it would go to our Palestinian brothers and the other half
to finance other fronts."
As for attacks on Israel, al-Baghdadi said the "Islamic
state in Iraq will be the cornerstone for the return of
Al-Quds" and added the group was trying to use Iraq's
western province of al-Anbar as a launching pad for
missiles against Israel — the same way the late Iraqi
dictator Saddam Hussein fired 31 missiles against the
Jewish state in the Gulf War.
"The Jews and the Americans have realized this and tried by
all means to prevent us from achieving this target
including the fierce campaign on al-Anbar, knowing that it
is easy to fire missiles on Israel from some parts there,"
In the vast western Iraqi province, Sunni groups known as
Awakening Councils last year abandoned their support for
al-Qaida and joined the U.S. push to drive the militants
out of al-Anbar, and have been credited with significantly
helping reduce violence in the area.