August 24, 2006

More Ties to al Qaeda Found in Gaza Kidnappings

The Global Islamic Media Front today released a copy of the Steve Centanni & Olaf Wiig hostage video in an internet posting. Along with the video, the al Qaeda propoganda production and distribution outlet also released photos of personal IDs found on the hostages, and a copy of the statement faxed to two Arab media outlets yesterday. The posting was made at an Islamist forum with ties to al Qaeda.

The fact that it was the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) that released these artifacts is very bad news. The group is an al Qaeda mouthpiece that generally distributes high-production value propaganda pieces.

The fact that the GIMF was not involved in the initial production of the video is a sign that the "Holy Jihad Brigades" is exactly as I feared: part of al Qaeda 3.0. What this means is that they are an al Qaeda inspired jihad gang, not directly under the control of the terror organization, but which is connected through a worldwide network of radical Salafists--most importantly through the internet.

More importantly, if they have made a connection with GIMF then it is likely that they see Abu Musab al Zarqawi as a source for inspiration. Zarqawi is infamous for popularizing the beheading murders of his hostage victims.

If this is the case--and these are words you may never hear repeated at The Jawa Report---then God help the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in finding them before it is too late.

I hope that I am wrong on this one, and there is some evidence to suggest that taking the Fox News reporters hostage has nothing to do with al Qaeda. However, the evidence trend seems to be that this is, at the very least, an al Qaeda inspired plot.

Many have wondered why these particular journalists were targetted. It is not clear why they were targetted, but a photo ID that the terrorists found on Steve Centanni may be a clue as to why they belive that his life can be used as leverage to pressure the US government.

It is a Congressional press pass.

steve-centanni_congress-id-hostage-gaza.jpg

Along with the press pass, was Centanni's driver's license (not shown), Olaf Wiig's CNN ID (below), and Wiig's Nairobi UN media press pass (not shown).

olaf-wiig-cnn-id-hostage-gaza.jpg

Below is an image of the first page of the letter stating the organizations demands. You will notice that it is a two sided document, the writing from the back side can be seen bleeding through the paper.

wiig-centanni-hostage-demands-fax.jpg

It is the same message as reported in the media yesterday.

We pray for the safe & immediate return of Centanni and Wiig.

Hat tip to Doubletap, friend of Vlad.

SITE also reporting this.

Again, it's time to pray.

UPDATE: A friend of mine at a Middle East news bureau reminded me in an e-mail that a lot of what GIMF does is simply distribute propaganda, and aren't official al Qaeda spokespeople, although they are al Qaeda's favorite distribution outlet. Again, I truly hope the GIMF connection means nothing.

UPDATE: Michelle links to a video from Centanni's brother. Very moving.

UPDATE: Allah has this roundup and Mary Katherine this one.

First, let me say that I hope I'm wrong.

Second, I'd discount (but not rule out) what the PA has to say, publicly at least. The last thing any one in the Palestinian territories wants (including many competing terror groups) is an al Qaeda presence.

But the "pay us our salaries" route, mentioned by the Jerusalem Post and linked by Allah, is consistent with what Wiig said in the video when he urged people to pressure on the local Gaza government for their release. So, it's plausible.

As I said yesterday:

The video has an al Qaeda feel to it, but the content of what Wiig said was interesting. In the video Wiig implores his family and friends to pressure the local goernment in Gaza to get their release. Which is an odd request, if the demand is for the release of Muslim prisoners from U.S. jails--a common Islamist demand in Iraq.

Third, I'd rule out the Shia claim, altogether. The text of the communique is classic Sunni Salaafism, and almost word for word AQ in Iraq.

Last, when thinking of terror organizations don't get caught in thinking of al Qaeda as something one must "belong" to or not. That might have been true at one time, but no longer.

Scholars are calling AQ 1.0 the al Qaeda of pre-9/11 days. Organized training camps, loyalty oaths, etc.

AQ 2.0 is the "franchise" al Qaeda. The al Qaeda of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Remember, Zarqawi had his own organization, and only later called it "al Qaeda".

AQ 3.0 is something much looser. It exists as more of an idea, than a recognizable organization.

What's so scary about AQ 3.0 is that it entirely possible that a group of disgruntled PA security officials with radical jihadi tendencies can get together on the internet with like minded jihadis in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia, give themselves a spiffy name, and voila--you are al Qaeda. Whether you call yourselves that or not, you are part of a network of jihadis with the most radical views and are not afraid to use the most disgusting and terrible tactics to achieve your goals.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:18 PM | Comments |