Gaza militants
Palestinian gunmen east of Gaza City. Photo by AP
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The Yemen-based arm of Al-Qaida recently sent members of the organization in the Gaza Strip a training manual with instructions for building a light aircraft and using it against Israeli targets near the border with the Strip. The plane is powered by a car engine and can be used to launch explosives into Israel.

Documents sent to Haaretz by a group of Shi'ite separatists in Yemen that opposes Al-Qaida points to regular, direct contact between the Al-Qaida organization in that country and supporters in the Gaza Strip. Some of the latter are active in Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad, which has carried out terror attacks against resorts in Sinai.

The Shi'ite rebels who passed the latest communication, and several previous ones, to Haaretz, are demanding Yemeni government recognition of their civil rights. They are keen to distinguish themselves from Al-Qaida.

According to one of the documents, Sami al-Mutairi, a Kuwaiti citizen who was convicted several years ago of killing an American citizen in Kuwait, is now man in charge of Al-Qaida operations against Israeli targets for the Palestinian territories.

Mutairi, who uses the nom de guerre of Abdallah al-Haj, was released from prison in Kuwait in 2007. He sent about $850,000 to Al-Qaida members in the Gaza Strip with a Saudi national, Abdullah al-Dusri, who posed as a tourist to bring the money in via Egypt.

Mutairi issued instructions indicating that the funds were to be used to purchase weapons in Sinai for Al-Qaida militants in the Gaza Strip and to buy apartments in Khan Yunis and in Rafah where the group's men could hide out.

The Kuwaiti specified that the weapons, once obtained, should not all be kept in the Gaza Strip for fear that they could fall into Hamas hands.

Another letter reported that members of Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad had already purchased 25 Grad rockets and concealed them in greenhouses in farms in Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

Last week Egyptian authorities reported the discovery and confiscation, in two separate operations, of large amounts of weapons, ammunition and explosives in central Sinai and near the Egyptian town of Rafah, near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The documents from the Yemeni rebels indicated that Mutairi, who since his release from prison in 2007 has become one of the top Al-Qaida figures in the Arabian peninsula, has asked a group called the Abdullah Azzam Brigades to assist Al-Qaida in Gaza because "they are fighting against the same enemy."

It is not clear whether this is the same group that claimed responsibility for terror attacks in Taba and in Eilat in 2005, or a faction of a group that operates in Syria and Lebanon.

In a letter to his subordinates in Gaza, Mutairi said he intends to send three instructors to teach them to use the arms and explosives they have acquired, as well as the fundamentals of fighting tactics.

Another letter of support for the Gaza group came from Somalia. It was written by Mukhtar Rubu Abu Mansour, a member of Al-Qaida, who offered his assistance with training and funding.

Mutairi recently finished writing a detailed document in which he sets out the strategy that should be adopted against Israel and calls for a "missile campaign" from Gaza in order to stir Hamas out of its stupor and fight Israel.

He emphasized the importance of an Al-Qaida force in the Gaza Strip that can demonstrate military prowess against Israel as a way to prevent Hamas from "surrendering" and ensuring Al-Qaida's eventual succession of that organization in the struggle against Israel.