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The Migration of al-Qaeda in Iraq: Gaza's New Residents

Al-Qaeda terrorists from Iraq have entered into Gaza via the downed fence with Egypt, according to reports and jihadi websites. This should be viewed in context with AQI's recent message offering assistance to Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. On the al-Qaeda wave into Gaza (along with others), this week's guest on the Fire Watch podcast, Nir Boms, refers to them as Gaza's New Residents at The Weekly Standard.

The border incident, initiated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, allowed some otherwise unwelcome guests to enter Gaza. The Bethlehem-based Maan news agency quoted Hamas sources as estimating the number of Arab men who had entered the Gaza Strip as new residents at 2,000. Many of these men, according to Egyptian sources, toured a number of Hamas-affiliated training bases and security installations and expressed their desire to remain in the Gaza Strip and launch attacks against Israel. Some of the men, according to Arab sources, had recently fled from Iraq, where they had been carrying out attacks against U.S. troops.

Where else did they come from? A Sunni Muslim website that carries statements of al Qaeda reported last week on the arrival of at least four Saudi militants to Gaza through Egypt. The members-only website, al-ekhlaas.net, said that the four Saudis, one from Riyadh and three from Jeddah, entered Gaza with the help of an Egyptian guide. Sada Usama, the author of that site, is said to have spoken with the men who had arrived safely. He called on other Saudis to enter Gaza.

"Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into an international center for global jihad," said one Palestinian Authority official to the Jerusalem Post. This official claimed that, "Most of the men who entered the Gaza Strip through the breached border are now being trained in Hamas's camps and schools." Another PA security official told the Jerusalem Post that, according to his information, dozens of al Qaeda operatives have managed to enter the Gaza Strip in the past two weeks. He said some of them had already been recruited to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "They brought with them tons of explosives and various types of weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles," he told the paper, and added that a number of Iranian security experts had also entered the Gaza Strip to help train members of Hamas and other armed groups.

Remember that in an audio statement by al-Qaeda in Iraq offered not only financial aid to Palestinian terrorists, but also called for Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades to break from the rest of Hamas and 'liberate' Jerusalem and even offered help in manufacturing Qassam rockets.

We scoffed at the AQI messenger, calling him "The Artist Formerly Known As Abdullah al-Naima." And we chided the Western media for continually referring to the stage name of 'Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.'

But regardless the messenger and the media indifference toward distinguishing between "James Bond" and Sean Connery, the AQI message with Palestinian 'offers' and al-Qaeda terrorists from Iraq entering Gaza via the felled Gaza-Egypt fence in the weeks prior are decidedly not a coincidence. Al-Qaeda is aggressively setting up shop in Gaza. And in so doing, it is also attempting to piggyback off the lucrative Palestinian cause in the Arab world.