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Mar 5, 2006 11:58 am


AL QAEDA IN LEBANON AND PA



Fear and trembling rather than accuracy may be behind Abbas's backing off from his earlier pronouncements about Al Qaeda's presence in the PA. It is there and has been there for some time as this January article by Dr. Eli Karmon details. Karmon ended it thus:

On this background, although it is still possible that Hizballah or one of its Palestinian allies were behind the December 27 bombing of northern Israel, the claiming of responsibility by Zarqawi's al-Qaida Committee in Mesopotamia should be taken seriously. It is possible that the stage of al-Qaida and Iran refraining"from harming each other" has already passed and the moment has arrived when the Iranian regime, in coordination with Assad's regime or Hizballah, have decided to give a free hand to al-Qaida to do their"dirty work" for them.

"Meanwhile," Karmon adds,"the Lebanese authorities have arrested 13 people suspected of belonging to the Al-Qaeda accused of"establishing a gang to carry out terrorist acts, forging official and private documents and possessing unlicensed arms." The 13, three Lebanese, seven Syrians, a Saudi, a Jordanian and a Palestinian, were arrested in various Lebanese areas."

In other words, Al Qaeda and Iran have crossed the Rubicon and are currently in a mode of active cooperation. This development seems to parallel developments in Iraq in early 2003 when Saddam drew closer to Al Qaeda according to Abdel Bari Atwan, who has had unique access to Osama Bin Laden prior to the overthrow of the Taliban. He writes:

Most commentators agree that Al-Qaeda was present in Iraq before the US invasion. The question is for how long and to what extent. What is known is that Zarqawi took a direct role in Al-Qaeda’s infiltration. In March 2003 — it is not clear whether this was before or after the invasion began — he met Al-Qaeda’s military strategist, an Egyptian called Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi, and agreed to assist Al-Qaeda operatives entering Iraq.

Makkawi is a shadowy figure. Little is known about him except that he used to be a war strategies expert in the Egyptian army. His greater strategy for Al-Qaeda, revealed on a jihadist website, is to “expand the (Iraqi) conflict throughout the region and engage the US in a long war of attrition . . . create a jihad Triangle of Horror starting in Aghanistan, running through Iran and southern Iraq then via southern Turkey and south Lebanon to Syria”.

This scenario no longer seems too far fetched though the Lebanese are doing their utmost to downplay it for fear of letting Syria off the hook. Just read this report by a think tank named INEGMA published today in The Daily Star:

There has been increased talk within Lebanese circles over the actual existence of Al-Qaeda cells in Lebanon. While the Lebanese Army Command and the Judiciary, as well as pro-Syrian factions, have maintained that some armed foreigners arrested in Lebanon recently were members of Al-Qaeda sent to attack Western targets in the country and carry out cross border raids against Israel, politicians and leaders of the March 14 Forces have disputed this and maintained that the gunmen were part of cells hired by Syrian intelligence to undermine security conditions in the country and show the world what has happened since Syrian troops were forced out of Lebanon. Hariri said in a February 13 interview that Al-Qaeda in Lebanon was a Syrian fabrication aimed at showing the inability of the Lebanese authorities to control the situation in the country.

"All politics are local - except in Lebanon" is the title of the INEGMA report. INEGMA is wrong. Solzhenitsyn is right:"All internal affairs have ceased to exist on our crowded earth." He made that observation in 1970 at the height of the Cold War or WWIII. It applies so well because we are in the midst of WWIV. Wish as the Lebanese, Israelis or even Iraqis may wish, their fate again is tied into the fate of regional and global developments.



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