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Al-Qaida courts Palestinians

Al-Qaida called on Palestinians to join the international terrorist network. Ayman Zawahiri, senior lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, said in a statement posted Wednesday on the Internet that Palestinians should abandon their oldest national movement, Fatah, and embrace radical Islam. “Brothers in jihad, steadfastness and martyrdom-seeking, freedom and a sovereign government will only be achieved if you liberate Palestine from the Jews and their agents, and only if you set up a government which rules by Islamic law,” Zawahiri said. He denounced Fatah, which is formally committed to founding a Palestinian state alongside Israel, for being too “secular.” “Because I hope that the nationalists and leftists will return to the truth, I call on all of them to ask themselves: Who is today confronting America and Israel? Who spoiled their criminal plans in Afghanistan and Iraq? Isn’t it the mujahedeen?” Zawahiri said, referring to al-Qaida and its allies. The Egyptian-born cleric made no explicit mention of the governing Palestinian Authority faction Hamas, which is equally radical but which limits its jihad to Israel and insists its worldview is different from al-Qaida’s.