CBS News consultant Hoda Osman wrote this story for CBSNews.com.
An "analyst" who supposedly has "close connections" to al Qaeda was quoted in an article posted on the Internet Wednesday as saying that a strike against the United States and European countries was imminent. The article was published by "Jihad Press" and posted on the popular jihadi Web site al Ekhaas.
Such threats are based on speculation and should not be taken seriously, says Yasser Serri, an expert on Islamic movement, who heads the London-based Islamic Observatory. "If a group really wants to do something, they would not reveal it," he adds.
It's clear from the statement that the "analyst," who was identified as Yaman Mokhadib, has based his prediction on his own analysis rather than information he learned through his alleged connections with al Qaeda. He notes that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden issued three statements addressed to Americans and three to Europeans, which included offering both a truce. Mokhadib argues that Bin Laden was following Islamic law in making three attempts that included the truce offer before launching an attack. He therefore expects Bin Laden not to release any more statements to Americans or Europeans before a punitive strike against them.
Mokhadib, a "jihadi writer" whose articles were found on several radical Web sites, assumes al Qaeda has the capability to launch an attack against the U.S. and/or Europe but has been waiting until it fulfills the requirements of attempting to communicate with the targets of the attack first. It is difficult to verify the credibility of the warning or determine if the "analyst" has any real connections to al Qaeda, as the article claims. It is not uncommon for al Qaeda sympathizers on the Internet to make predictions and warn of strikes against Western countries.
Serri believes most members of the jihadi Internet forums have no real connections to militant groups, but are rather sympathizers. "There's often competition amongst them on who posts more messages and who gets to post something first," he explains. "They believe they are thereby contributing to the media war."
Serri also notes that members of intelligence and security services are also active on the jihadi forums and cites the case of a number of young Egyptian men who were arrested after communicating with a security official.
In the article, Mokhadib also argues that bin Laden's recent statements about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict signal the beginning of "a new stage of jihad in the world," which he believes would start with a double strike against "the powers of apostasy in the U.S. and Europe," resulting in weakening support for Israel. The "analyst" also argues that bin Laden, through his recent statements, gave the green light for militants to overthrow the governments of Israel's neighboring Arab countries. The next stage, he added, would be a direct war with Israel.
CBS News reporter in London contributed to this report
By Hoda Osman
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