Al-Qaeda's Comeback

(Israel Hayom) Dore Gold - A coordinated attack by Al-Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate against two high security prisons led to the escape of at least 500 Al-Qaeda members. Over 1,000 Iraqis were killed in May, the highest number in five years. The New York Times ran an editorial on July 29 which conclued that the "attacks showed the fearsome and growing strength" of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. According to Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution, who served for years as a CIA analyst on the Middle East, Al-Qaeda in Iraq set up Jabhat al-Nusra La'al al-Sham (the Assistance Front to the Residents of Greater Syria, known as the Al-Nusra Front) as its Syrian affiliate. The Al-Nusra Front quickly became the leading military force fighting the Assad regime, responsible for the most daring bombing attacks in the heart of Damascus. There are important implications for Israel that come from Al-Qaeda in Iraq reconstituting its power. First, since it was formed, Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been a direct threat to Jordan. In November 2005, it attacked three Jordanian hotels in Amman, killing nearly 60 people. Second, the revival of jihadist organizations in Syria, like the Al-Nusra Front, can evolve into a challenge for Israel. In a speech to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on June 18, Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, head of the IDF Central Command, explained that part of his mission was to make sure that the Al-Nusra Front did not go through Jordan and enter the West Bank. A book in Arabic outlining the plan of action of the Al-Nusra Front, called The Regional War Strategy for the Land of the Levant, stresses that "Syria is the key to a change in the Levant, including in occupied Palestine, and the Levant is the key to change in the Arab world and afterwards the Islamic world." The return of Al-Qaeda is just another reminder of how the security environment along Israel's borders can rapidly change. Anyone who delivered a eulogy for Al-Qaeda in the Middle East has been proven wrong by recent developments. The writer, a former Israeli UN ambassador, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

2013-08-02 00:00:00

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