To stop the defamation of the Jewish people... to secure justice and fair treatment to all

Sign Up For One Of Our Newsletters
Al Qaeda's Jihad Against Israel and Jews RULE Al Qaeda's Focus on Israel and Jews

Posted: February 5, 2009

Al Qaeda Renews Call For Attacks On Israel and Jews
Al Qaeda's Focus on Israel and Jews
Al Qaeda: In Their Own Words
Al Qaeda in the Palestinian Territories

While the hatred of Jews is intrinsic to Al Qaeda's ideology and motivation, Israel and Jews did not become a strategic target for Al Qaeda until after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  Since its founding, Al Qaeda has been committed to the liberation of all Muslim lands and holy places - among these the Palestinian areas and the Al Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem - but it was busier attacking its primary target, America.


Al Qaeda's ideological and strategic shift toward targeting Jews and Israel became explicitly evident in 2002.  That year, Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for an attempt to down an Israeli airliner and the bombing of an Israeli-owned resort in Mombassa, Kenya, that killed 13 people, and a suicide attack at a synagogue in Tunisia that killed 19 people. In a video from around the time of Al Qaeda's attack on the synagogue in Tunisia, bin Laden declared: "The war is between us and the Jews. Any country that steps into the same trench as the Jews has only herself to blame."  Several months later, an Al Qaeda spokesman expressed a similar idea, saying, "we will continue to hit America until it gets up and leaves these trenches, so that the confrontation can be between us and the Jews who are enemies of Allah."


The focus on Jews may partially be a result of Al Qaeda's fragmentation following the American invasion of Afghanistan. At that time, it began to rely more on locally-based organizations, which tend to choose "soft targets," lightly-guarded gathering spots such as night clubs or tourists or buildings associated with the local Jewish community.


Attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets by Al Qaeda since 2002 include:


  • February 2008: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group based in North Africa, claimed responsibility for an attack on the Israeli Embassy in Mauritania that wounded three bystanders.  AQIM issued a statement saying, "This attack comes at a time when the bastard Jews are tormenting our brothers in Palestine with an unjustified siege."

  • January 2006: Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for a rocket attack in northern Israel in December 2005 in an audio statement attributed to the group's leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.  In the audio statement, released on militant Islamic Web sites, Zarqawi said that his group fired rockets from Lebanon "at the grandchildren of monkeys and pigs" in the Israeli town of Kiryat Shimona and that the attack was "only the start of a blessed in-depth strike against the Zionist enemy."  No one was injured in the attack.

  • August 2005: Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for firing three Katyusha ground-to-air rockets from the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba.  One rocket narrowly missed a U.S. navy ship close to the port and killed a Jordanian soldier.  The second rocket also missed the ship and landed near a military hospital.  The third landed near an airport in Eilat.

  • July 2005: A group calling itself "Jihad Brigades in Palestine – the military wing of Al Qaeda in Palestine" took responsibility for
    missile attacks on a Jewish settlement near the southern town of Sderot.  A video was posted on an Al Qaeda-affiliated Web site with three masked men who stressed that the group's leadership was seeking jihad and not willing to compromise like Palestinian politicians.  One of the men, reading from a piece of paper, said that the group is "not a new organization in Palestine" and that the attack was part of the greater Islamic jihad being carried out by "our Mujahideen brothers in the international Al Qaeda against the Jews and Crusaders."

  • October 2004: Suicide attacks on several tourist resorts in Sinai, Egypt, that are popular with Israelis killed 34 people and injured 171 others.  Israeli officials linked Al Qaeda to the attacks, but there was no official claim of responsibility.

  • November 2003: Suicide car bombs exploded simultaneously at two Jewish synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, killing 25 people and injuring more than 300 others.  Al Qaeda claimed responsibility of the attack in an email to the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds, saying that they targeted synagogues because Israeli agents were working there.

  • May 2003: Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi masterminded and financed five near-simultaneous suicide attacks in Casablanca, Morocco.  Four of the targets had Jewish associations, including a Jewish social club and restaurant, a Jewish cemetery, a Jewish-owned Italian restaurant, and a hotel frequented by Israelis.  Forty-five people were killed and more than 100 others were injured in the attacks.

  • November 2002: Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombing of an Israeli-owned resort and an attempt to down an Israeli airline in Mombassa, Kenya, that killed 13 people.  The message, referring to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, said the attacks were in the "same place that the Crusader-Jewish alliance was hit four years ago." 

  • April 2002:  Al Qaeda official Sulaiman Abu Ghaith claimed responsibility for the suicide attack at a synagogue in Tunisia that killed 19 people.  In an audiotape broadcast on Al Jazeera television in June 2002, Abu Ghaith said that attack was revenge for the deaths of Palestinians.

Print This Page

Al Qaeda

Ayman al-Zawahiri

Home | Search | About ADL | Contact ADL | Privacy Policy

© 2009 Anti-Defamation League