Author Topic: Israeli intel: Al Qaida used Facebook to recruit Palestinians who targeted U.S. embassy  (Read 218 times)

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Israel has determined that Al Qaida established a recruitment center in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The Israel Security Agency has asserted that Al Qaida operatives in the Gaza Strip were recruiting Palestinians for mass-casualty strikes in Israel. ISA said Al Qaida’s focus has been the West Bank, where Palestinians were recruited over the Internet.

They [authorities] have exposed a global jihad cell from eastern Jerusalem operated from the Gaza Strip in preparation for mass-casualty strikes in Israel,” ISA said.

On Jan. 22, the Israeli agency, responsible for domestic intelligence, announced the capture of three Palestinians allegedly recruited by Al Qaida. ISA said the Palestinians were assigned to attack multiple targets in Israel, including the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.

“The attacks were to have been conducted by foreign terrorists disguised as tourists and carrying forged Russian passports,” an official said.

This marked the first time ISA detailed Al Qaida operations in the Gaza Strip, said to be tolerated by Hamas. Israel has long been tracking Al Qaida attempts to establish a presence in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

ISA identified the Al Qaida handler in the Gaza Strip as Ariv Al Sham,
 said to have recruited the three Palestinians. Officials said Al Sham was
 believed to have been directed by Al Qaida commander Ayman Zawahiri,
 believed hiding in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.

“Al Qaida has established several militias with hundreds of fighters,”
an official said. “They coordinate with their colleagues in [Egypt's] Sinai
 Peninsula and receive missiles and other weapons.”

Al Sham was said to have employed Facebook and Skype to recruit one of
 the Palestinians, identified as Iyad Abu Sara of Jerusalem’s Ras Hamis
 neighborhood. The 23-year-old Abu Sara was said to have been selected
 partially because of his Israeli identity card, which granted him freedom of
 movement throughout the country.

Officials said Abu Sara, sent training material over the Internet,
 planned an attack on an Israeli bus from Jerusalem to the Jewish community
 of Maalei Adumim in the West Bank. They said the plan called for an Al Qaida
 squad to open fire on the bus and then kill all of its passengers.

Another assignment was a suicide bombing of the U.S. embassy in Israel.
 ISA said Al Qaida planned to use foreigners with Russian passports trained
 to drive a truck bomb into the American compound.

“Abu Sara was assigned to accommodate the attackers, prepare the
 explosives and lead them to their destination,” ISA said.

Officials said Al Qaida ordered Abu Sara, who allegedly proposed the
 Israeli targets, to report to Turkey for instructions. They said military
 training was to have taken place in neighboring Syria.

The other two Palestinians were said to have confessed to organizing Al
 Qaida plots in Jerusalem and the West Bank. One detainee, identified as
 Robin Abu Najma, a resident of the West Bank city of Nablus, planned to
 abduct an Israeli soldier and bomb a building where Jews lived in Jerusalem.
 Al Anam, who lives near the West Bank city of Jenin, was directed to
 organize an Al Qaida cell in the northern West Bank.

The arrests marked the latest attempt by Al Qaida to establish an
 operational presence in the West Bank. In November 2013, three suspected Al
 Qaida fighters were killed in a battle near the southern West Bank city of

Officials said ISA briefed the United States on the Al Qaida plot
 against the embassy. They said the arrests took place during the initial
 planning stage.

“The Al Qaida presence in the West Bank is in its initial stages and has
 been directed from Gaza,” the official said. “There has been coordination
 with the Palestinian Authority to stop this.”

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