Besides the similarity in the language used by the terrorists to that used by Al Qaeda in the past, the nature of the kidnapping itself is not the kind done by Palestinian terrorists:
Also unusual for Palestinian militants was the extraordinary demand issued in the statement that "Muslim prisoners in U.S. jails be released within three days" in exchange for the two Fox journalists. Targeting journalists from an American news organization and making demands on the United States rather than Israel is not typical for Palestinian groups.So why has Al Qaeda now taken an interest in this particular area of the Middle East?
Analysts believe that al Qaeda has expressed an increasing interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict for a number of reasons, one of which is their major setbacks in Iraq. Their tactics of beheading and mass murder of innocent civilians have not been popular with the majority of Iraqis, and their leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. air attack two months ago.So far, the terrorists have in fact made this more of an anti-American than an anti-Israel attack.
Al Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan have been dismantled after their allies, the Taliban, were overthrown by the U.S.-led war in October 2001, and their leadership has been forced to seek refuge in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Many of their top operatives have been arrested in the past four years.
By contrast, the increasing chaos of Gaza represents an opportunity for al Qaeda to tap into the growing rage of young Palestinians, frustrated with the corruption of their leaders and the lack of any real progress towards a viable state. The impoverished camps of Gaza represent a "fertile ground" for al Qaeda, according to Palestinian observers.
Finally, the huge political boost achieved by Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite organization, during the last engagement with Israel represents a major challenge for al Qaeda. "Al Qaeda has been overshadowed by Hezbollah. The only way to regain the limelight is to focus its attention on the Palestinian issue," said Gerges.
But they have only just started.