Bin Laden’s statement on May 18th has prompted several Jihadi pundits to speculate on AQ’s future strategy in the Palestinian territories. Over the next few days, I’ll post the most interesting speculation. For part one, we’ll look at a short post by Ekhlaas member Khalid al-`Asqalani.

According to `Asqalani, Bin Laden has presented a complete program of action for the coming stage of the Jihadi movement, which is the liberation of Palestine.

1) Bin Laden explained that oppressive international order is in an alliance with Israel and its resources are at its disposal.

2) The apostate Arab regimes are the guardians of Israel’s security, so overthrowing these regimes will make liberating Palestine much easier.

3) The pressure of the repressive regimes causes the Islamic groups to abandon jihad on the justification that it harms the da`wa (spread of Islam).

4) Hezbollah is misleading the youth because it has duped them into thinking it is the only resistance to Israel and that any other resistance in southern Lebanon must give obeisance; it plays political games at the expense of the Muslim community; and it gives its allegiance to the Guardianship of the Jurist (i.e. the Iranian government).

5) Fighting and jihad are a “strategic choice” for the Muslim community to replace the strategic choice of the defeatist Arabs who submit to peace and recognize Israel.

6) A group of people must penetrate the borders of Palestine in order to resist the Israeli blockade.

This is not quite the program of action that we were promised, but `Asqalani does pick up on Bin Laden’s call for jihad against the countries surronding Israel as a prelude to action in the Palestinian territories.

More interesting than `Asqalani’s summary of Bin Laden’s message is his take on why the time is ripe for the Jihadis to liberate Palestine:

1) They have a mature mujahid leadership that is well aware of the situation on the ground and can make military plans accordingly.

2) A global community of Jihadis can be mobilized to fight in Palestine regardless of their nationality.

3) The Jihadis have established a central base with the Islamic State of Iraq that can supply every mujahid with weapons, money, and training and function as a gathering point.

4) The Jihadis know what they want, they understand their enemy, and they have pushed the religious scholars to mobilize the Muslim community to fight.

5) Palestinians now know that their conflict is not a national conflict but a religious conflict.

`Asqalani is not alone in feeling that al-Qaeda is getting ready for operations against Israel in the Paletinian territories, even though Zawahiri tried to downplay expectations in his recent Q&A. In the following days, we will be looking at other Jihadi pundits who are responding in a similar manner. Bin Laden may only be throwing a bone to the Jihadis online and to those living in countries surrounding around Israel, but this sort of talk (increasingly frequent) also creates expectations, which in turn creates pressure for the al-Qaeda High Command to do more than talk.

Document (Arabic): 5-19-08-ekhlaas-khalid-asqalani-response-to-bin-laden-statement-on-palestine