Al-Qaeda in Palestian Territories
Buried on the page twelve World in Brief section of today’s WaPo is the news that Al-Qaeda is in the West Bank and Gaza.
Al-Qaeda has spread to the West Bank and Gaza Strip and its operations there could have dire consequences for the entire region, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview published Thursday. Israel said it was stepping up its campaign against the terror network.
South Africa, meanwhile, confirmed that it had invited the leaders of Hamas for talks as the radical group prepares to take over the Palestinian parliament, yet another blow to Israel’s efforts to isolate the group. No timetable has been set for the visit.
Abbas said Palestinian security forces had not captured any al-Qaeda operatives but had evidence they were in the territories. “We have signs of an al-Qaeda presence in the West Bank and Gaza,” he told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper. He elaborated later during a news conference on the Jordan-West Bank border, saying: “We have information, yet to be confirmed, that al-Qaeda, just as it sends its operatives to Jordan and other countries like Saudi Arabia and others, also might send us operatives for sabotage” acts.
Israel has warned that al-Qaeda was operating in Gaza. Asked to comment on Abbas’s remarks, Israel’s acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said the country was stepping up its campaign against the group. “We are systematically intensifying our war,” he said.
Even with the caveats, this is more than a page 12 story.