A Fatah splinter group?

The Palestinian security sources told TIME that Holy Jihad Brigades is made up of gunmen who belonged to one of the many armed groups that splintered apart from the late Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement…

The true motivation behind the kidnapping, say these security sources, was to discredit both Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority — who rashly told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he could free the pair of journalists swiftly — and Ismael Haniyeh, the Palestinian prime minister, whose Hamas-led government has tried to crack down on Fatah splinter groups’ roaming death squads and extortion rackets in Gaza.

Al Qaeda?

The language in the statement, which denounces the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is similar in style and content to the kind of dispatches issued by Abu Musab al Zarqawi when he was leading al Qaeda in Iraq…

Also unusual for Palestinian militants was the extraordinary demand issued in the statement that “Muslim prisoners in U.S. jails be released within three days” in exchange for the two Fox journalists. Targeting journalists from an American news organization and making demands on the United States rather than Israel is not typical for Palestinian groups.

“Al Qaeda 3.0”?

The Global Islamic Media Front today released a copy of the Steve Centanni & Olaf Wiig hostage video in an internet posting…

The fact that it was the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) that released these artifacts is very bad news. The group is an al Qaeda mouthpiece that generally distributes high-production value propaganda pieces.

The fact that the GIMF was not involved in the initial production of the video is a sign that the “Holy Jihad Brigades” is exactly as I feared: part of al Qaeda 3.0. What this means is that they are an al Qaeda inspired jihad gang, not directly under the control of the terror organization, but which is connected through a worldwide network of radical Salafists–most importantly through the internet.

Hezbollah?

In addition, the Holy Jihad Brigades is hoping that by staging a high-publicity kidnapping of foreigners, they may attract the largess of the Lebanese militia group, Hizballah. In recent months, say Israeli intelligence officials, Hizballah has started to bankroll a wide array of Palestinian groups in Gaza and the West Bank in their battle against Israeli forces, and the Brigades may be hoping to join this lucrative club.

Hezbollah and Al Qaeda?

An Iranian intelligence official explained to Asia Times Online, “There have been some contacts between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda in the past, but those contacts were at the individual level. The two organizations never spoke to each other officially. Neither did they exchange any official delegations.

“However, nobody can deny that individuals of both organizations carried out operations jointly. And as the situation is emerging, there are chances that any time soon the two organizations will be compelled to interact officially.”

This is confirmed by a Pakistani intelligence source who is part of an international intelligence cartel investigating regional arms markets.

The U.S. and New Zealand won’t negotiate. Olaf Wiig’s wife is saying what she has to say to win his freedom.

Yet another Palestinian terrorist splinter group is preparing to declare the birth of the caliphate tomorrow in Jerusalem. They’re seen as a hardline alternative — to Hamas.

Update: Just across at JPost. They cite Palestinian “security” sources and Hamas officials as corroborating Time’s report — with a significant new detail.

Another top Hamas activist told the Post that his movement’s investigations have shown that the two journalists were initially kidnapped by members of one of the PA’s security forces. “The kidnappers, who wanted to put pressure on the Palestinian leadership to pay them their salaries, later handed the two over to Fatah gunmen,” he said. “They are now being held in one of the refugee camps near Gaza City.”