Last updated on: 5/19/2008 11:53:00 AM PST

Has al Qaeda Infiltrated the Palestinian Territories?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
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."

May 7, 2006 - Larry Derfner 
Khaled Abu Toameh 

PRO (yes)

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."

July 9, 2007 - Mahmoud Abbas, Csc 

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:

"Text of 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."

Jan. 16, 2007 - British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 
Al-Quds al-Arabi 

David Keyes, Middle East and terrorism specialist, said in a Dec. 28, 2005 interview with Jamie Glasov of

"The Israeli 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."

Dec. 28, 2005 - David Keyes 

CON (no)

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."

July 10, 2007 - Yoram Schweitzer 

Fawzy Barhoom, Hamas Spokesman, was quoted in a June 26, 2007 London Times article, "Al-Qaeda Tells Muslims to Fund and Arm Hamas":

"There is no al-Qaeda in Gaza. We are different from al-Qaeda. We believe in moderate Islam."

June 26, 2007 - Fawzy Barhoum 

Ghassan Khatib, MA, Palestinian Authority Minister of Planning, in a Jan. 5, 2006 article titled "No Outside Influence Yet," posted on, a website he co-founded, wrote:

"There 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."

Jan. 5, 2006 - Ghassan Khatib, MA