Khaled Abu Toameh, West Bank and Gaza Correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, and Larry Derfner, Senior Writer at the Jerusalem Post, in a May 7, 2006 U.S. News and World Report article titled "A Tough Neighborhood: Is al Qaeda Branching Out to the Palestinian Territories?," wrote on the subject of al Qaeda establishing a presence in the Palestinian Territories:
"U.S. counterterrorism officials are aware of such talk but haven't
seen much convincing evidence to back it up. 'There might be some
efforts to bring jihadists into the fold, but there may be less than
meets the eye here,' says one American official. Abbas, for his part,
may have motives for playing the al Qaeda card at a time when his
political future is precarious and he is looking to hang on to support
from the United States and Israel."
Has al Qaeda Infiltrated the Palestinian Territories?
Mahmoud Abbas, PhD, Palestinian President, said in an interview with Italian state television channel RAI on July 9, 2007:
"Through Hamas, al Qaeda is entering the
Gaza Strip. It is Hamas that is protecting al Qaeda, and through its
bloody behaviour Hamas has become very close to al Qaeda. That is why
Gaza is in danger and needs help."
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Monitoring Services published an article on Jan. 16, 2007, "UK Arabic Paper Cites Palestinian Sources on Al-Qa'idah Presence in Territories," about an article posted in Arabic on Al-Quds al-Arabi website on Jan. 13, 2007:
report by Walid Awad from Ramallah headlined: 'Al-Qa'idah reaches the
Palestinian territories, and forms cells in the northern, central, and
southern parts of the West Bank. Its influence will not begin before
one year'; published by London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi website
on 13 January.
While elements in the Palestinian resistance noted that the Al-Qa'idah
network has managed to enter the Gaza Strip and some West Bank cities,
the security sources explained to Al-Quds al-Arabi that Al-Qa'idah now
has three hotbeds in the West Bank, but that no activity has been
detected so far."
David Keyes, Middle East and terrorism specialist, said in a Dec. 28, 2005 interview with Jamie Glasov of FrontPageMagazine.com:
Ministry of Defense recently reported that in the wake of disengagement
from Gaza, al-Qaeda members infiltrated the evacuated areas from Egypt.
This is not the first time al-Qaeda has been spotted in Gaza. There is,
in fact, increasing evidence of al-Qaeda influence and infiltration in
Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Back in 2003, Israeli forces arrested
Hamas terrorists after they returned from al-Qaeda training facilities
in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda's presence in Gaza has also been confirmed by
one of Hamas' leading spokesmen, Mahmoud az-Zahar."
Yoram Schweitzer, terrorism expert and Head of LABAT Strategic Consulting, was quoted in a July 10, 2007 New York Times article titled "Abbas Links Hamas and Al Qaeda":
"I am not sure there is a real Al Qaeda
presence in Gaza, though there are clearly people there who identify
with it in spirit said. On the contrary, Hamas wants to be in control
there. It would do all it could to stop it."
Ghassan Khatib, MA, Palestinian Authority Minister of Planning, in a Jan. 5, 2006 article titled "No Outside Influence Yet," posted on bitterlemons.org, a website he co-founded, wrote:
is no evidence, either from intelligence or political sources, of the
presence of any external and non-Palestinian political influence or
presence such as al-Qaeda in Palestine. The attempt to divert attention
in that direction is an attempt by some to escape responsibility for
what has happened and try to blame non-existent bogey-men."