Global Jihad has Israel in its sights: Security officials estimate that 2006 is the "target year" set by the global al-Qaeda terror network to carry out a mega-terror attack in Israel, the country's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.
The disturbing report follows official confirmation by IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Wednesday that global Jihad forces maintain regular bases in Lebanon and Jordan. However, the details released by Kaplinsky are apparently only the tip of the iceberg.
Security authorities were able to detect two years ago the shift in priorities of global Jihad terrorists with regards to Israel, which has been "upgraded" to the rank of a major target, mostly due to personnel and ideological changes within global terror networks.
This shift has been manifested, among other things, through public declarations by leading international terrorists.
Recently, terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who operates in Iraq, declared his organization plans to carry out an attack in Israel. Of no less concern, global Jihad forces have deployed in countries around Israel, namely Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon – where they concentrate mostly in and around refugee camps.
Meanwhile, officials speak of an emerging al-Qaeda network in the Gaza Strip as well.
Syria has also been implicated and serves as a transfer point for terrorists heading to Iraq. For al-Zarqawi, Syria is also a transfer point and base for terrorists planning to carry out attacks in Jordan and Israel. Currently, Syria is home to countless terror camps and hosts numerous terror elements.
Security officials also estimate that highly militant elements in the Fatah and Hamas disappointed by the relative diplomatic moderation of their organizations may find their way to the global Jihad umbrella.
The shift within al-Qaeda, which has changed the focus from a global Islamic revolution to the Middle East, is a result of Osama Bin Laden's weakening position within the organization. Meanwhile, Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has boosted his position and the leading operatives of the group today hail from Egypt, like Zawahiri.
Those operatives, whose roots can be found in the Islamic Brotherhood movement, cling to a doctrine that stresses the need to bring about Islamic revolutions in moderate Arab countries, with an emphasis on Egypt and Jordan.
The bottom line: The Middle East has become global Jihad's favored target, and Israel is now one of the main targets in the region.
Meanwhile, security authorities here are already preparing to face the growing international terror threat. The scenarios officials are dealing with are much different than those Israel has come to expect from Palestinian terror groups, however.
An indication of what may lie in store is Zarqawi's plan to target two Israeli passenger ships in Turkey in 2005, an attack that was expected to result in a casualty toll of about 1,500 people. Authorities, however, are also preparing for strikes on a scale that would eclipse the September 11 terror attacks.