Al-Qaeda involvement in the Middle East

Al Qaeda involvement in the Middle East has included a number of attacks inside Saudi Arabia, occurring as early as 1995. Al Qaeda or Ayman al-Zawahiri's former organization, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, have carried out various attacks inside Egypt.

In Iraq, elements at first loosely associated with al-Qaeda, in the Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad organization commanded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have played a key role in the War in Iraq.

Yemen

On September 17, 2008, six assailants, possibly associated with Al Qaeda, approached the United States embassy in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen. The assailants, carrying rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, attacked the embassy with gunfire going for ten minutes. During the attack, a car bomb detonated at an embassy checkpoint. The attack resulted in the death of six Yemeni guards, along with four civilians, and the six attackers. The civilians were in a line outside the embassy, waiting to get visas. [cite news |url=http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gPT0H4QNxbnAnToQZo5c3pTkPk7AD938I6PG0 |title=16 dead in car bomb, ambush at US Embassy in Yemen |author=al-Haj, Ahmed |date=2007-09-17 |publisher=Associated Press]

Iraq

[
Canal Hotel bombing]

Osama bin Laden first took interest in Iraq when the country invaded Kuwait in 1990, raising concerns the secular Baathist government of Iraq might next set its sights on Saudi Arabia, homeland of bin Laden and Islam itself. In a letter sent to King Fahd, he offered to send an army of mujahedeen to defend Saudi Arabia, but the offer was rebuffed. [cite web|date= 2006-05-28 | title=Who is Osama Bin Laden? | work=BBC News | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1551100.stm | accessmonthday=29 May | accessyear=2006] During the Gulf War, the organization's interests became split between outrage at the intervention of the United Nations in the region and hatred of Saddam Hussein's secular government.

Links between Saddam's regime and al-Qaeda, as claimed by the Bush Administration (which formed a crucial part of the WMD justification for the Iraq invasion), were non-existent or exaggerated, according to the report of both the United States Government's 9/11 Commission [cite web|date= 2004-07-22 | title=The 9/11 Commission Report, p.334 | work=United States Government Printing Office | url=http://www.gpoaccess.gov/911/pdf/sec10.pdf | accessmonthday=2 May | accessyear=2007|format=PDF] and the Pentagon; [ [http://wpherald.com/articles/4137/1/Pentagon-report-There-was-no-Saddam-al-Qaida-connection/CIA-in-2002-found-no-cooperation.html World Peace Herald: "Pentagon report: There was no Saddam-al Qaida connection"] ] despite these conclusions, Vice President Dick Cheney has continued to publicly assert an Iraqi–al-Qaeda link. [cite web|date= 2006-09-10 | title=Cheney reasserts Iraq/al-Qaeda links | work=Financial Times | url=http://www.ft.com/cms/s/1f27d8e4-4106-11db-827f-0000779e2340.html| accessmonthday=10 May | accessyear=2007] Recently, the US has acknowledged that the role of al-Qaeda in post-invasion violence in Iraq was overstated. [cite web|date= 2006-04-18 | title=Who is behind "Al Qaeda in Iraq"? Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a "Zarqawi Legend" | work=Centre for Research on Globalization | url=http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CHO20060418&articleId=2275| accessmonthday=14 May | accessyear=2007] The US also claimed that al-Qaeda was in contact with the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam from its inception in 1999; however, Ansar al-Islam's founder, Mullah Krekar, has staunchly denied any such link. [cite news | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2713749.stm | title=Mullah denies Iraq al-Qaeda link | publisher=BBC News | author=Pam O'Toole | date=2003-01-31]

Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, elements at first loosely associated with al-Qaeda, commanded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have supported local resistance to the occupying coalition forces and the emerging government, particularly targeting Iraq's Shia majority.cite news|url = http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/407AAE91-AF72-45D7-83E9-486063C0E5EA.htm|work = Al Jazeera|title = Al-Zarqawi declares war on Iraqi Shia|date = September 14 2005 ] They have been implicated in the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Iraq, [cite press release|publisher=U.S. Department of State|date=October 15 2004|title=Foreign Terrorist Organization: Designation of Jama?at al-Tawhid wa?al-Jihad and Aliases|url=http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2004/37130.htm|accessdate=2006-04-21] as well as hundreds of other small and large scale attacks on the military and civilian targets. [cite news | first=Jim | last=Miklaszewski | title=With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq. | date=March 2 2004|publisher=NBC News|url=http://drinkingliberally.org/blogs/louisville/archives/2006/03/ ] Eventually, al-Zarqawi claimed allegiance to bin Laden in October 2004.

Al-Zarqawi was killed by U.S. air strikes on a safe house near Baqubah on June 7, 2006. Before his death, he was allegedly trying to use Iraq as a launching pad for international terrorism, most notably dispatching suicide bombers to attack hotels and government targets in Jordan. [cite news|title= Furious Jordanians take to streets|date=November 11 2005|publisher=CNN | url=http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/10/jordan.blasts/index.html ] Since the killing of al-Zarqawi, it was believed that Abu Ayyub al-Masri took over as head of "al-Qaeda in Iraq". On September 3, 2006 the second-in-command of "al-Qaeda in Iraq", Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi (also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana), was arrested north of Baghdad, along with a group of his aides and followers. [USA Today: [http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2006-09-03-al-Qaeda-arrest_x.htm Suspected No. 2 al-Qaeda leader arrested] , 4 September 2006]

In a 39 page document retrieved in November and a 16 page document retrieved in October gives insight on how Al-Qaeda in Iraq is in panic and fear. The documents reveal how local fighters are being mistreated by the foreign fighters and labeled as "scoundrels, sectarians, and non-believers." Abu-Tariq, states that the number of fighters has dwindled from 600 to 20 fighters. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article3346386.ece Al-Qaeda leaders admit: 'We are in crisis. There is panic and fear'] ]

Israel and Palestine

Bin Laden's and Ayman al-Zawahiri's repeatedly refer to the Palestinian cause in their manifestos and interviews. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and organization formed in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s by Fathi Shaqaqi and Abd Al Aziz Awda as a branch of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, an organization currently led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, is active in its attacks against Israel.Fact|date=July 2008

Al-Qaeda is suspected to have planned and carried out two nearly simultaneous attacks against Israeli civilian targets in Mombasa, Kenya, on November 28, 2002. Al-Qaeda also increased its external operations in 2005 by claiming credit for attacks including" [http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2005/65275.htm Foreign Terrorist Organizations] ", "Country Reports on Terrorism", U.S. State Department, 28 April 2006.] a rocket attack that narrowly missed U.S. Navy ship in Eilat, Israel, and the firing of several "Katyusha" rockets into Israel from Lebanon.

An extremist Gaza Strip group calling itself Army of Islam or "the organization of al-Qaeda in Palestine", [Kershner, Isabel. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/21/news/22mideast.php Bombing at U.S.-backed school in Gaza] ", "International Herald Tribune", 04-21-2007. Retrieved 04-30-2007.] which gained notoriety with kidnapping of Alan Johnston, draws inspiration from al-Qaeda. [Reuters. "BBC's Johnston shown in tape wearing explosives", Reuters, 06-24-2007.]

Lebanon

Shakir al-Abssi, a former associate of al-Qaeda in Iraq, recruited Palestinian refugees in Lebanon into Fatah al-Islam and rose against the government. [ Mekhennet, Souad/Moss, Michael. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/03/15/news/lebanon.php A new face of Al Qaeda emerges in Lebanon] ", "International Herald Tribune", 03-15-2007. Retrieved 03-23-2007.] The exact nature of the group's al-Qaeda links remains a matter of controversy.

On the 9th of May 2008, after the clashes between the Hezbollah and government loyalists, Al-Qaeda declared war on Hezbollah. [" [http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=54916&sectionid=351020203 Presstv.] "]

ee also

* Ghriba synagogue bombing
* Riyadh compound bombings
* 29 May 2004 Al-Khobar massacres
* 2005 Amman bombings
* 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks

References


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