As the Bush administration prepares to create a Palestinian state next month in Annapolis, an ironic fact remains widely unnoticed. It is that all "official" as well as unofficial Palestinian groups remain sworn enemies of the United States. All Palestinian terror groups, including the American-supported Fatah "government" of the Palestinian Authority, are quietly but very determinably expanding ties to al-Qaeda. There is no doubt about this.
Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda all share a deep ideological and religious hatred of the United States. Operationalizing this common antipathy, these kindred foes have now gone beyond a mere conceptual affinity to active field cooperation. Indeed, with growing commitments to shared weaponry and information as well as to the joint establishment of safe houses and crucial tactical resources, such ties could soon produce nuclear and/or biological mass-destruction attacks against major American cities.
Why, then, do we Americans sponsor such a misconceived "peace conference" in Annapolis? Immediately after September 11th, Hamas audaciously approached al-Qaeda, and so did Arafat's own Fatah. Of course, Fatah had previously embraced "martyrdom operations" against Israeli civilians. Although Palestinian terrorists hardly needed al-Qaeda to prod them to commit further assaults of unspeakable cruelty, the example of September 11th offered them unprecedented encouragement. In its interrelated cell and command structures, al-Qaeda has drawn special comfort from Palestinian collaborators' grateful references to the openly exterminatory Hadith: "Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews and their supporters...."
The Jihadist idea of killing for the presumed sake of Islam is glorified both by all the principal Palestinian terror groups and by al-Qaeda. Both also approve of certain religion-based killing within the Islamic community. Both describe Muslims who allegedly collaborate with the United States as murtaddun (apostates) and both prescribe the sentence of murtadd harbi; to wit, the "ally with Satan" is given a fatwa, a death-sentence.
The relevant Qur'anic verse is this: "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Prophet and strive to make mischief in the land, is only this - that they should be murdered or crucified, or their hands and feet should be cut off on opposing sides...." There is no difference made here between man and woman: "It is permissible to shed the blood of a woman who is a heretic (harbiyya), even if her fighting is limited to singing." And yet, President Bush seeks a Palestinian state at Annapolis.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, which is almost always unwise, al-Qaeda's hatred of the United States has little to do with American support for Israel. If Israel ceased to exist, al-Qaeda's contempt for America would surely continue. The true "problem" lies in the "sin" of America's ties to "apostates and criminals." This refers to those who rule in such Islamic countries as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, the Emirates and Pakistan.
On December 2, 2002, al-Qaeda first announced the establishment of the "Islamic Al-Maida Organization in Palestine."
This announcement declared "a vow of allegiance to the Emir of the Mujahideen, the leader Osama bin Laden, by means of whom Allah strengthened the Nation of Islam." Calling for an end to regimes that "serve only the murderous Jews and the Great Satan," it ended with an unambiguous plea to "our brothers in Islam in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to attack the American interests and the heretical institutions of apostasy. ...Death to the Jews and Zionism; death to America; strength to Allah, Allah is great, and victory to Islam."
Al-Qaeda now operates less than secretly in the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and altogether openly in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Years ago, Yasser Arafat first imported Hezbollah fighters to assist with terror attacks against Israel. Today, Osama bin Laden's Islamist fighters are an integral part of the Islamist insurgent mix.
Yasser Arafat first gathered together a diverse collection of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, Popular Front - General Command, various Iraqi military intelligence units (Palestinian terrorists had always been extremely close to Saddam Hussein, even sending Palestine Liberation Army units to help torture Kuwaitis in 1991), the pro-Iraqi Arab liberation Front, and, since April 2002, al-Qaeda.
To be sure, this very same crosscut of Islamist terrorist groups also exists within the United States, although here they function "only" as sleeper cells. Absolutely none of this seems to have been understood by President Bush or Secretary of State Rice, who now offer advanced military assistance to one Palestinian terror group (Fatah) against another (Hamas).
How can we possibly support creation of a Palestinian state at Annapolis? Any war requires us to distinguish friend from foe. Joint Palestinian/al-Qaeda teams are currently planning cooperative mega-terror strikes against both Israel and the United States. Isn't it time, therefore, for Washington to acknowledge that the so-called "Road Map" is a disingenuous bit of cartography ("Land For Nothing"), and that any further empowering of Palestinian terror organizations will only add to the power of al-Qaeda? With such an indispensable acknowledgment, America could finally begin to recognize that the so-called Middle East Peace Process has plainly undermined our national security, and that birthing a Palestinian terror state from the still-living body of Israel would be a very grave error.
LOUIS RENÉ BERES, Professor of International Law
Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), publishes very widely on strategic and legal aspects of terrorism. The author of some of the first major books on nuclear war and nuclear terrorism, he has counseled various agencies of government in Washington and Jerusalem.