Palestinian Authority Holding Dozens Who Went to Syria to Join al-Qaeda

Fatah Aims to Tamp Down Interest in Salafist Groups

The Palestinian Authority is reportedly holding at least 40 people in prison on suspicion of having gone to Syria to join al-Qaeda-linked rebel factions there. The 40 were all arrested upon returning from abroad.

Though the PA’s ruling Fatah faction initially tried to remain neutral in the Syrian Civil War, in part because the Assad government has historic ties with their rivals in Hamas and the PFLP, the current drive seems to center around fears of a Salafist surge in the West Bank itself.

Having fighters going abroad to join the Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is one part of this surge, but the PA has also arrested dozens of others for joining a domestic Salafist jihadi network within the West Bank itself.

A particular sore spot in the West Bank are the refugee camps, where overcrowding and poverty are the rule of the day, and the PA rarely does anything except for launch the occasional arrest raid. Those camps and their desperate occupants have proven fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaeda on other such factions.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.