By Ariel Natan Pasko

Admittedly, Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi - the new head of Hamas - has a gripe. Israel has tried twice to kill him, and just after the recent "targeted killing" of his boss, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin by Israel, Israeli officials announced that Rantisi was still on their "hit" list. Of course, when you think about what Rantisi has said in the past, "We will continue with our holy war and resistance until every last criminal Zionist is evicted from this land. By G-D we will not leave one Jew alive in Palestine. We will fight them with all the strength we have. This is our land, not the Jews." You can understand why Israel would want to eliminate the terrorist leader.

Immediately after the Israeli missile strike that killed Sheikh Yassin, Rantisi and other Hamas leaders threatened to retaliate against America, blaming it for supporting Israel. But a few days later, Rantisi backed down from the threat, saying Hamas would only be active in the West Bank - Judea and Samaria - the Gaza Strip, and Israel.

Now he's decided to enlarge the war. It's not good enough to wipe out Israel; he's after America too.

In a recent speech at the Islamic University in Gaza City, Rantisi said he was not surprised that the US had vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel's assassination of Hamas "spiritual leader" Sheikh Yassin.

"Bush is an enemy of God, an enemy of Islam, an enemy of Muslims," Rantisi explained. "America has announced a war against Allah, Sharon has announced a war against Allah. Allah announces a war against America, Bush and Sharon," he told the crowd of more than 5,000. The rally was the first public appearance by Rantisi, since the end of a three-day official mourning period for Yassin.

Rantisi seems to be following the line developed by his "spiritual leader" Yassin, who in the weeks and months before Israel's assassination of him, had increasingly begun speaking publicly about the "Global Jihad" in Bin Laden and al-Qaeda type terms. Although this wasn't new to Yassin, who back in February 2002 - before the war in Iraq - called on the international Islamic community to combat "American influence" on their countries via "Jihad".

"The war of God goes on against them and I see the beginning of victory starting from here in Palestine in the hands of the Izzedin al-Kassam Brigades - Hamas's military wing - and the Hamas movement," Rantisi said.

In the past, after a previous attempt on his life, Rantisi threatened that, "Now no one is immune, Hamas will target every man, woman, and child in Israel." As if they weren't already trying to kill everyone, with their indiscriminant suicide bombings? Now he's adding America to his list.

Dr. Rantisi also suggested the Arab world is letting down the Palestinians. "I want to tell the Arab leaders, you will be asked by God... about the blood of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin," he said. Rantisi told the Arab states, "The blood of Sheikh Yassin calls on you to close the [Israeli] embassies, the consulates, commercial offices. Boycott them, commercially, diplomatically and culturally and in security [contacts], and stop meeting killers like Sharon," he said. Rantisi said they only looked weak following the weekend postponement of an Arab League summit in a dispute over democratic reform proposals. "The time has come to be strong in facing America and the Zionists," Rantisi demanded.

The crowds, mostly dressed in the green colors of Hamas, cheered Rantisi's every word and pledged their support for him. Let's not forget that Dr. Rantisi first came to public attention in December 1992, when then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin "exiled" 400 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists to Marj az-Zuhour in Southern Lebanon. The international media at the time, portrayed their daily struggles, trying to drum up sympathy for their plight - combating the grueling cold, stranded with not sufficient food or medical supplies, etc - when in fact, they had gotten hold of cell phones, and made contact with Hezbollah operatives. For almost a year they got continuous Jihadist indoctrination, bomb making lessons, and practice in guerrilla warfare techniques - don't forget the unreported vacations to Beirut - thanks to Hezbollah. Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi - then political head of Hamas - gained international prominence at that time, as the group's spokesman. So, no one can doubt Rantisi's "Jihadist credentials".

Hezbollah - sponsored by Iran and Syria - has been involved in attacks worldwide against Jewish and Israeli targets. I might add, that they bombed the US Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and have sent many fighters to Iraq, as well.

Then you have the more recent case - in October 2003 - of three American security personnel killed in an American diplomatic convoy in Gaza. Anonymous callers to the media at the time claimed that an unknown group - the Popular Resistance Committees - was behind the attack. But, Israeli intelligence sources have discounted the calls and placed the blame on members of Arafat's Fatah.

Though the Palestinian Authority officially condemned the attack, the Palestine Satellite TV Channel - an official television station of the Palestinian Authority - carried a weekly live sermon from Sheikh Zaid Bin-Sultan Al Nuhayyan Mosque in Gaza. The imam told his audience, "The world will never enjoy security unless our children enjoy it here in Palestine. We hear statements by the little US President. We hear unfair and tyrannical statements in which he says Israel has the right to defend itself. These statements carry destruction for the United States itself. From here, we warn the American people that this President is dragging them to the abyss." He concluded, "O Lord, take vengeance on the Jews and their supporters. O Lord, take vengeance on the Jews and their allies..."

The Palestinian Authority hasn't yet adequately investigated the bombing.

And if you thought it was only Hamas who promotes anti-American Jihadist rhetoric, think again. The Palestinian Authority's highly controlled official media persistently incites hatred and violence against America and the West, besides Israel. They tell the Palestinian public, that several of the conflicts around the world - that involve Muslims and Arabs - are part of a war between civilizations, that the western world led by the United States is fighting against the Arab world and Islam. They inflame their people to support terror, because America "runs a dirty war against all that is Arab and Muslim." The Palestinians are repeatedly told they must lead the war against the West.

The official PA newspaper al-Hayyat al-Jadida, echoing Bin Laden terminology, insists there exists an "American-European-Russian alliance," pursuing Muslim/Arab subjugation. The Palestinians are at the forefront of the war that will, "shake the earth under the feet of the blood and oil sucking neo-imperialists, the thieves of natural resources, murderers of nations." US President Bush, in this "Global Jihad," is depicted not only as a leader of the "enemy United States," but also as the enemy of all civilization, the "Fuhrer of the globalization era." He's called a greater danger than Hitler, leading the world to destruction. "The new Fuhrer [Bush] will return the world to the Stone Age," while Hitler only left "tens of millions of dead."

So there you have it, the true "Axis of Evil," Iran, Syria, "Palestine," Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Arafat, Rantisi and Hamas. With the Palestinian Authority housing several terror gangs, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Arafat's own Fatah sponsored al-Aksa Brigades and Tanzim, the DFLP, the PFLP, and others, "Palestine" has become another Afghanistan. Imagine what full Palestinian independence would mean for the world?

But, don't worry America, Hamas is at war with Israel too...

Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis He is a member of the Board of Directors and a Research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at:

(c) 2004/5764 Pasko