PA, Israel jointly arrest six Qaida-linked jihadists in West Bank
Group was busy disseminating ideas identified with the ideology of Osama bin Laden via Internet.
Security forces of both the Palestinian Authority and Israel have recently arrested members of radical Islamist groups with links to Al-Qaida and global jihadists in various parts of the West Bank. The most extensive group was uncovered in the town of Qabatiya near Jenin. Those detained were unarmed and were arrested before they could carry out any attacks.
Security sources in Israel and the Palestinian Authority told Haaretz that six activists were arrested in Qabatiya, some of them belonging to the same family.
The group was busy disseminating ideas identified with the ideology of Osama bin Laden and his supporters, mostly through the Internet and in meetings at the mosque of Qabatiya during prayer. They described Palestinian politicians, both from the PA and Hamas, as "infidels."
This is the first organized cell marketing the radical Islamist ideology of Al-Qaida to be identified in the West Bank in recent years.
Several similar cells have been identified, say Israeli security sources, but they mostly busy themselves with ideological discussions and the dissemination of extreme anti-Western propaganda. These groups are mostly active in northern Samaria, and some of them are affiliated with Islamic Jihad, the most extreme of the more organized Palestinian factions.
The members of the groups that were exposed were also involved in gathering information on possible terrorist targets, mostly through instructions received via the Internet. It does not appear that those arrested were being guided by groups abroad in an organized fashion - as an agent would be by a controller. Apparently, the input was more a result of feedback from global jihadist groups.
During the second intifada, activists who identified themselves with Al-Qaida were arrested on a few occasions in various cities of the West Bank. However, no major terrorist attack was carried out there as a result of these global jihadist affiliations.
In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the activities of groups in the Gaza Strip linked with global jihad. Last year, Hamas security forces raided a mosque in which one of these global jihad groups was operating and killed 20 of its operatives, including the sheikh who served as the group's spiritual leader.
Hamas has been trying to reestablish its military presence in the West Bank despite efforts by the PA security forces.