International jihadist elements have called for abducting Israelis and Americans in the Middle East in order to hold them hostage until the isolation of Hamas-controlled Gaza is ended.
Researchers from the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR) said last week that continuing electronic Islamist chatter included a new call for jihad fighters worldwide “to stand up alongside your brothers in Gaza.” Specifically addressing “the lions of Iraq” and Palestinian Authority Muslims, a tactical discussion in jihadist forums focused on abduction: “Kidnap Zionist soldiers or American soldiers in Iraq, and release them only on condition that the closure be lifted from Gaza.”
ITRR added that there is, in fact, an increased threat of kidnapping terror operations in areas of Israel and Egypt in close proximity to Gaza and the Palestinian Authority areas, as well as in Iraq. Especially vulnerable as targets for abduction or attack, ITRR said, are people travelling in vehicles with markings indicating Western companies or organizations.
The recent calls for hostage-taking come in the wake of a growing focus in Islamist and jihadist forums, as well as in the general Arabic media, on Egypt’s construction of a 10 kilometer-long (6 miles) steel barrier, sunk 30 meters (100 feet) under the Gaza-Egypt border. Observers in the Arab and Muslim world claim that the barrier will help Israel to isolate and besiege Gaza, causing suffering to the people there. Egypt, meanwhile, claims the barrier is strictly for preventing underground smuggling of weapons and people from and to their territory.
In ITRR’s view, the intensified anti-Egypt chatter indicates that high-visibility government offices, tourist sites and resorts in the Sinai Peninsula are currently at a significantly increased risk of attack by organized or lone-wolf jihadists. This warning takes on particular urgency as many Westerners spend the December-January holiday season at the Sinai getaways. Alongside the focus on Egypt, ITRR analysts add, terrorists will also likely aspire to strike Israeli and Western assets in the region.