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.

Posted by: Rusty at 03:18 PM

Comments

1 No. No. No. No. No... NO!

Posted by: Editor at August 24, 2006 04:02 PM

2 crap, thats not good

Posted by: Jane at August 24, 2006 04:21 PM

3 I had similar thoughts when I first heard about this Rustie. I immediately thought Daniel Pearl. The standard Pali goons squads know better than to target non-Israeli Americans, especially in Gaza or the West Bank. This sounds all too much like Daniel Pearl. I don't know if a rescue attempt is possible, but I think that the US should make it clear to Hamas that if they can't deal with AQ, we will deal with them ourselves.

This also seems to confirm Debka's assesment that AQ was operating in Gaza since the pullout.

Posted by: Final Historian at August 24, 2006 04:34 PM

4 Another tipoff of AQ/Zarqawi or some other sympathizer group is their demand for the U.S. (not Israel or some other nation) to free their Muslim prisoners. That is SOP for that crowd. The only thing these guys didn't do was demand the release of female prisoners, which is another tactic.

Posted by: eddiebear at August 24, 2006 04:55 PM

5 Well Rusty, Asharq Al Awsat has posted the same four photo ID's. Is it a front for the GIMF? I don't think so. Listen to your friend at a Middle East news bureau. He's right.

And, take this as coming from my heart, please cease from categorically stating, based on mere speculation, that the Qaidists are behind this.

It's not helping the situation.

Posted by: Robert Stevens at August 24, 2006 05:27 PM

6 No, but it was GIMF who released the images. At least, according to GIMF....and SITE.

Posted by: Rusty at August 24, 2006 05:34 PM

7 They did demand the release of female prisoners Eddie.

Posted by: SeeMonk at August 24, 2006 05:38 PM

8 " the US should make it clear to Hamas that if they can't deal with AQ, we will deal with them ourselves " Ooooh! They must be trembling in their little pink camel-hair booties!

Posted by: Last gasp Larry at August 24, 2006 06:34 PM

9 Rusty, chain of possession. the video and statement were initially obtained by at the Gaza City bureau of Ramattan.

Rita Katz's website says the GIMF distributed the three as a communique on Thursday, August 24 but Reuters published a handout picture of the id cards yesterday.

I think it would be safe to say that Ramattan had it first also.

This is not to say that the Holy Jihad Brigades is not a Salafist outfit. It may very well be. But what cannot, in my view, be disputed is that the GIMF is engaging in a sort of parasitic, opportunistic propaganda.

Posted by: Robert Stevens at August 24, 2006 07:10 PM

10 I was just wondering, can the writing that appears to be bleeding through be read? I'm not that original so I hope the "security services" have thought of this and are checking it out. The writing may provide clues as to the location, identity or something else helpful.

In any event, I'm praying for their safe return.

Posted by: Dale Cox at August 24, 2006 07:30 PM

11 If it can be, I know a co-worker who can read Farsi. If I can get a high resolution copy of the image, we may be able to recover some of it.

Posted by: SeeMonk at August 24, 2006 08:02 PM

12 Three points:

1. I hope they are safely released.
2. This is bad for Palestine because if the members of the media are not safe there, then they will stop going there. Over half of their efforts are spent on their "message" that is carefully managed for presentation. If no one with cameras is willing to travel there, then the Palestinians will languish in obscurity.
3. Congress should immedately invalidate all press passes and develop a new card design. If Hezbulla can copy US money, they can copy a press pass.

Posted by: _Jon at August 24, 2006 08:15 PM

13 Three points:

1. I hope they are safely released.
2. This is bad for Palestine because if the members of the media are not safe there, then they will stop going there. Over half of their efforts are spent on their "message" that is carefully managed for presentation. If no one with cameras is willing to travel there, then the Palestinians will languish in obscurity.
3. Congress should immedately invalidate all press passes and develop a new card design. If Hezbulla can copy US money, they can copy a press pass.

Posted by: _Jon at August 24, 2006 08:16 PM

14 Why does it look like it has been folded up and stuffed in someones pocket? Because maybe it was? Would correspondence as important as this be carried around in someonespocket?

On second thought, the squares look like they could fit into a cd case. You know tracking something as simple as a cd burner could be an effective weapon to use against these guys.

Posted by: SeeMonk at August 24, 2006 08:21 PM

15 BTW Rusty, I have a post for these guys on my site. I have asked for people to email the Haaretz Daily and the Jerusalem Post asking for everyone to let them know we do care for our people, and what we expect from Palestine.

Posted by: SeeMonk at August 24, 2006 08:51 PM

16 This is a sick society. Do Palestinian children play kidnappers and hostage the way Western kids play cops and robbers? Is this how they dream of becoming famous? Is this the good People's Front of Judea or those lowlifes in the Judan People's Front?

They promote hatred of the West, and then act alarmed when some idiot tries to become the next Nasrallah. They are dependent on our money, with no economy of their own, but most of their contacts with the West are with NGO liberal enablers of self pity and victimhood. This is what happens when you take aid from the U.N.

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