Al-Qaeda involvement in the Middle East

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One of the flags of Al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda involvement in the Middle East includes Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Yemen.

In Iraq, elements loosely associated with al-Qaeda, in the Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad organization commanded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have played a key role in the War in Iraq.


Aftermath of the Canal Hotel bombing

Osama bin Laden first took interest in Iraq when the country invaded Kuwait in 1990, raising concerns the secular Baathist government of Iraq might next set its sights on Saudi Arabia. In a letter sent to King Fahd, he offered to send an army of mujahedeen to defend Saudi Arabia, but the offer was rebuffed.[1]

In November 2001, a month after the 11 September attacks, Mubarak al-Duri was contacted by Sudanese intelligence services who informed him that the FBI had sent Jack Cloonan and several other agents, to speak with a number of people known to have ties to Bin Laden. al-Duri and another Iraqi colleague agreed to meet with Cloonan in a safe house overseen by the intelligence service. They were asked whether there was any possible connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, and laughed stating that Bin Laden hated the dictator who he believed was a "Scotch-drinking, woman-chasing apostate.”[2]

Links between Saddam's regime and al-Qaeda, as claimed by the Bush Administration (which formed a crucial part of the WMD justification for the Iraq invasion), were non-existent or exaggerated, according to the report of both the United States Government's 9/11 Commission[3] and the Pentagon;[4] despite these conclusions, Vice President Dick Cheney has continued to publicly assert an Iraqi–al-Qaeda link.[5] Recently, the US has acknowledged that the role of al-Qaeda in post-invasion violence in Iraq was overstated.[6] The US also claimed that al-Qaeda was in contact with the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam from its inception in 1999; however, Ansar al-Islam's founder, Mullah Krekar, has staunchly denied any such link.[7]

Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, elements at first loosely associated with al-Qaeda, commanded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have supported local resistance to the occupying coalition forces and the emerging government, particularly targeting Iraq's Shia majority.[8] They have been implicated in the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Iraq,[9] as well as hundreds of other small and large scale attacks on the military and civilian targets.[10] Eventually, al-Zarqawi claimed allegiance to bin Laden in October 2004.

Al-Zarqawi was killed by U.S. air strikes on a safe house near Baqubah on 7 June 2006. Before his death, he was allegedly trying to use Iraq as a launching pad for international terrorism, most notably dispatching suicide bombers to attack hotels and government targets in Jordan.[11] Since the killing of al-Zarqawi, it was believed that Abu Ayyub al-Masri took over as head of "al-Qaeda in Iraq". On 3 September 2006 the second-in-command of "al-Qaeda in Iraq", Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi (also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana), was arrested north of Baghdad, along with a group of his aides and followers.[12]

In a 39-page document retrieved in November and a 16-page document retrieved in October gives insight on how Al-Qaeda in Iraq is in panic and fear. The documents reveal how local fighters are being mistreated by the foreign fighters and labeled as "scoundrels, sectarians, and non-believers." Abu-Tariq, states that the number of fighters has dwindled from 600 to 20 fighters.[13]

Israel and Palestine[edit]

Bin Laden's and Ayman al-Zawahiri's repeatedly refer to the Palestinian cause in their manifestos and interviews.

Jund Ansar Allah, a group which claims to be inspired by Al-Qaeda, is active in the Gaza Strip.[14]

Members of an al-Qaeda cell were convicted of the 2009 Murder of Yafim Weinstein near Nazareth. [15][16]


Shakir al-Abssi, a former associate of al-Qaeda in Iraq, recruited Palestinian refugees in Lebanon into Fatah al-Islam and rose against the government.[17] The exact nature of the group's al-Qaeda links remains a matter of controversy.

On 9 May 2008, the media outlet Presstv alleges that Al-Qaeda declared war on Hezbollah.[18]


Al-Qaeda was responsible for the USS Cole bombing was a suicide bombing attack against the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) on 12 October 2000 while it was harbored in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen American sailors were killed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Who is Osama Bin Laden?". BBC News. 28 May 2006. Archived from the original on 22 May 2006. Retrieved 29 May 2006. 
  2. ^ Silverstein, Ken. Los Angeles Times, "Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America's War on Terrorism", 29 April 2005
  3. ^ "The 9/11 Commission Report, p.334" (PDF). United States Government Printing Office. 22 Jul 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 April 2007. Retrieved 2 May 2007. 
  4. ^ World Peace Herald: Pentagon report: There was no Saddam-al Qaida connection
  5. ^ "Cheney reasserts Iraq/al-Qaeda links". Financial Times. 10 Sep 2006. Archived from the original on 17 May 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2007. 
  6. ^ "Who is behind "Al Qaeda in Iraq"? Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a "Zarqawi Legend"". Centre for Research on Globalization. 18 Apr 2006. Retrieved 14 May 2007. 
  7. ^ Pam O'Toole (31 Jan 2003). "Mullah denies Iraq al-Qaeda link". BBC News. 
  8. ^ "Al-Zarqawi declares war on Iraqi Shia". Al Jazeera. 14 September 2005. Archived from the original on 24 October 2005. 
  9. ^ "Foreign Terrorist Organization: Designation of Jama?at al-Tawhid wa?al-Jihad and Aliases" (Press release). U.S. Department of State. 15 October 2004. Archived from the original on 20 April 2006. Retrieved 21 Apr 2006. 
  10. ^ Miklaszewski, Jim (2 March 2004). "With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.". NBC News. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. 
  11. ^ "Furious Jordanians take to streets". CNN. 11 November 2005. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. 
  12. ^ USA Today: Suspected No. 2 al-Qaeda leader arrested, 4 September 2006
  13. ^ Al-Qaeda leaders admit: 'We are in crisis. There is panic and fear'
  14. ^ "'Hamas executing its rivals in Gaza'". The Jerusalem Post. 24 August 2009. Retrieved 28 August 2009. [permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Katz, Yaakov (July 26, 2011). "Barak outlaws Nazareth group with links to al-Qaida". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Miskin, Maayana (April 1, 2012). "Nazareth Imam Convicted of Inciting Terror; An influential Nazareth imam has been convicted of inciting to terrorism, and founding a Salafist group with Al-Qaeda ideology". Israel National News. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  17. ^ Mekhennet, Souad/Moss, Michael. "A new face of Al Qaeda emerges in Lebanon", International Herald Tribune, 15 March 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  18. ^ "Presstv."