- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

JERUSALEM With the dispatch of Mossad agents to Kenya the site of two attacks claimed yesterday by a senior al Qaeda leader Israel's famed intelligence service has for the first time entered the international war against Islamic terror.
The move follows clear signs that militants who for years have attacked U.S. targets including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have turned their "global jihad" against Israel. Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network claimed responsibility yesterday for the Nov. 28 attacks on a hotel and an airliner in Kenya that killed 16 persons and promised more attacks on both Israel and the United States.
The United States has until now differentiated the Israeli struggle against Palestinian terrorism from its own war on terror for fear of alienating Muslim governments whose help it needs against al Qaeda.
But the Israeli intelligence agency believes it has a significant role to play on the basis of its lengthy experience with the Arab world and the lethal struggle it has waged in the shadows for decades against Palestinian terror organizations.
The new threat from al Qaeda was recorded on Saturday and broadcast yesterday on the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel.
"I hereby confirm what has been issued by al Qaeda political office regarding our responsibility for the Mombasa attacks in Kenya," said Sulaiman Bu Ghaith, a leading al Qaeda member who has been in hiding since the United States attacked Afghanistan in October 2001.
"The Christian-Jewish alliance will not, God willing, be safe from attacks by the [Muslim warriors]. The alliance's installations and facilities everywhere will be subject to attacks," he said.
"The next phase will witness bigger and more lethal operations," he added.
Earlier yesterday, an Israeli security source told Reuters news agency that the Jewish state had received intelligence reports warning of plans by al Qaeda to attack Jews and Israelis in Prague.
The source said Israel has also received information from several foreign intelligence agencies warning of al Qaeda plans to target Israelis overseas.
While new to the war against al Qaeda, Mossad has long experience in fighting terrorists.
Following the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Prime Minister Golda Meir ordered the service to track down and kill all those involved in the attack, including the planners. The decision was motivated not just by a desire for vengeance but to create deterrence.
Within 10 months of the massacre, at least nine Palestinians associated by Israel with terrorism died violent deaths, mostly in Europe some by bombs, others by shooting. Most were believed to have been connected specifically with the Munich massacre.
The manhunt continued for years and claimed at least one innocent victim a Moroccan waiter gunned down in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1973 after being mistakenly identified as one of the key figures behind the massacre, Ali Hassan Salameh. Six years later, the real Salameh was blown up by a car bomb in Beirut.
It was the Mossad that tracked down Gestapo officer Adolph Eichmann, who symbolized more than any other Nazi survivor the murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. Eichmann, who had taken on a new identity, was seized on a Buenos Aires street in 1960 and abducted to Israel where he was tried and hanged, the only person ever to be sentenced to death by a court in Israel.
The Mossad played a critical role in the Yom Kippur War when, on the eve of the holiday in 1973 its leader, Zvi Zamir, flew to a European capital to meet his most important agent in the Arab world, a non-Israeli. The agent reported that Egypt and Syria planned to launch a surprise attack against Israel the next day.
Although the warning reached Jerusalem only half a day before the war started, it permitted Israel to begin mobilization of reserves and to adjust its mind-set before the Arab armies struck. The war was one of the most traumatic episodes in Israel's history, but without the Mossad warning it could have been far worse.
The Mossad's mandate does not include the Palestinian territories, where undercover work is carried out by the Shin Bet, or Security Agency. In recent years, the Shin Bet has dealt with the intifada while the Mossad has kept a relatively low profile, often playing a quasi-diplomatic role, particularly in countries with which Israel has no official relations.
But under Gen. Meir Dagan, who took charge of the service last month, it had been expected even before the Kenya attacks to undertake a more activist role. Gen. Dagan has been involved in anti-terror activities for decades, much of the time in the field.
The organization appeared to have missed a beat when it failed to issue a warning against travel to Kenya before last week's attack.
Intelligence officers said the information in hand was "too general," but one official suggested a wish not to offend Kenya, with which Israel has important economic and security links. The Mossad is not expected to cling to such diplomatic niceties in the battle shaping up.

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