In a letter reportedly intercepted by a Middle Eastern intelligence service, al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri urged al-Qaeda in Iraq's commander to export jihad from among his terrorist cadres in Iraq. Sent "in the past few weeks," the letter urged Abu Ayyub al-Masri (Abu Hamza al-Muhajer) to support al-Qaeda's emerging bases of terror in Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Territories.
A New York Times report highlights the path to jihad taken by Muhammad al-Darsi, released from a Libyan prison last year. Seeking to join the jihad in Iraq, his al-Qaeda recruiter diverted his endeavors to instead take part in an attack on Amman, Jordan. With the bomb attack on tourists at Queen Alia Airport in Amman thwarted and al-Darsi captured, his confession detailed his trek through Istanbul, Turkey, to Damascus, Syria, where he was shuffled through various al-Qaeda safe houses in preparation for his planned attack in Jordan. "The bomb maker, Saad Fakhri al-Naimi, 40, arrived on a commercial flight from Baghdad to prepare a suicide duffel bag for Mr. Darsi, using eight pounds of plastic explosives hidden in a child’s toy."
In Lebanon, al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group Fatah al-Islam remains under siege by the Lebanese Army and internal security forces. In fact, London's Arabic language al-Hayah reported that Fatah al-Islam "believed that it was very close to announcing its emirate and that the security and political conditions were ripe [to do so] based on its assessment that the acute division in Lebanon makes the authorities unable to make a decision that provides a political cover for the army and the security forces to prevent it [Fatah al-Islam] from carrying out its plan to control Tripoli." Fatah al-Islam, however, failed to foresee the level to which the Lebanese authorities would forcefully react to the al-Qaeda threat.
In the Gaza Strip, a terrorist group called Jaish al-Islam kidnapped a BBC reporter. While the BBC describes the group as "Influenced by, but not affiliated with al-Qaeda," their key demand for the release of the BBC's Alan Johnston is the release of al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Qatada. Many view Jaish al-Islam as al-Qaeda's foothold in Gaza, drawing recruits unsatisfied with Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees.
There are certainly al-Qaeda endeavors throughout the region that would benefit from the export of seasoned and trained terrorists from the Iraqi theater of al-Qaeda's operations. With Zawahiri calling for the overthrow of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime and Fatah al-Islam's thwarted visions of an 'emirate' in Lebanon, al-Qaeda's regional endeavors are definitely ambitious and in need of an influx of human resources.