Suspected Al-Qaeda website says Israel new target

06 December 2002

A website purporting to represent Al-Qaeda says that the group has decided to launch suicide attacks against Israel, citing its aim as the destruction of the Israeli state. US officials say that they believe the site, www.mojahedoon.net, to be genuine and that it has been under scrutiny for some time. The website claims that Al-Qaeda is to establish a cell in Palestine, which would oppose any solution to the conflict short of 'the full liberation of Palestinian land' and 'will defeat the Jewish invaders and return them to the place whence they came.' Al-Qaeda has in the past justified attacks on Western targets with reference to the plight of the Palestinians. However the 27 November suicide bombing of Israelis in Mombassa, which both the US and Israel believe was linked to Al-Qaeda, was the first time the group had directly targeted Israelis.

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon claimed in a speech on 5 December that Al-Qaeda was operating in the Gaza Strip, an allegation that was immediately and strenuously denied by the Palestinian Authority (MEED 6:12:02). Spokesman Saeb Erekat said that the accusation was part of a continued attempt by the Israeli government to use the 11 September terrorist attacks for their own ends.

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