Israeli soldiers patrolling the Golan Heights can now see Islamist flags flying on the Syrian side of the border, The Tower has learned. Islamist groups have taken up positions to the south of Quneitra, the largest Syrian town close to Israel, particularly in the area of Kudneh.
“A-Raya flags with the Islamic credo were spotted on the border several times. It’s not clear whether these flags belong to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front or the even-more-radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS),” said The Israel Project’s Defense Analyst Stephane Cohen.
Security experts told The Tower that the Islamists will eventually attack Israel – it is a question of if rather than when. There is a difference of opinion, however, as to why they have not launched serious attacks until now. Some say it is simply that the opportunity has not yet arisen. Others maintain these groups, although radical, have a strategic consideration in not striking Israel for the time being.
Right now, they argue, the Islamists are focusing on one thing only – toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even if it means teaming up with non-radicals.
The Syrian Revolutionaries Front, part of the FSA, joined up with the Nusra Front in the past few weeks to capture strategic hilltops from the regime in southwestern Quneitra province overlooking the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, according to two representatives of the Western-backed rebels who are with the fighters.
Israel is not the only target for these extremists, many of whom hail from other parts of the Middle East, Europe and North America – as many as 11,000. Western countries fear these so-called citizen jihadists will return home even more radicalized and ready to carry out acts of terror in the West.
[Photo: A rebel gunman patrols just yards from the Israeli border. Credit: The Israel Project]