Of course, Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa (not Islamic enough for them, clearly) was formerly the Algerian Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC). The fact that they invoke Israeli action in Gaza — never mind the Qassams– as an excuse to attack underscores the ultimately global goal of imposing Islamic law that that gives one local jihadist movement ideological common cause with another.
“Al-Qaida: 2 Austrian tourists kidnapped,” by Omar Sinan for the Associated Press:
CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for kidnapping two Austrian tourists last month in Tunisia in an audio recording aired Monday on Al-Jazeera television.
A man who identified himself as Salah Abu Mohammed said in the recording that the terrorist group kidnapped the two Austrians on Feb. 22 in retribution for Western cooperation with Israel, but said the hostages were in good health.
In addition to further underscoring the global nature of local jihadist conflicts, “revenge” attacks like this are handy in that they don’t have to make sense, as long as there’s a sense of grievance and/or dishonor (however spurious) that can serve as a pretext for acts they’d probably commit anyway. If it weren’t Gaza, it would be the “West Bank.” Or simply the continued existence of the “apostate” Tunisian government. Everyone can play. Create your own.
“We tell Western tourists that at the same time they are flowing into Tunisian lands seeking joy, our brothers are being slain in Gaza by the Jews with the collaboration of the Western states,” said Abu Mohammed.
“The mujahideen have previously warned and alerted them that the apostate Tunisian state cannot and will not be able to protect you, and the hands of the mujahideen can reach you wherever you are on the Tunisian soil.”
The Washington-based SITE Institute, which monitors militant Islamic Web sites, also reported the claim by al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa, saying it was posted on jihadist Internet forums.
The two Austrian tourists were identified as Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber in the al-Qaida statement, a copy of which SITE provided to The Associated Press. Austrian media have identified Ebner as a 51-year-old tax consultant from the town of Hallein, and said 43-year-old Kloiber is his girlfriend.
Johann Froehlich, the Austrian ambassador to Tunisia, said in a TV interview with broadcaster ORF on Monday that he had just met with Tunisian Foreign Ministry officials about the case but could not confirm the media reports.
The Austrian government said last week that two Austrian tourists had been missing in Tunisia since mid-February. The Foreign Ministry described them as a 51-year-old man and a 40- to 45-year-old woman.
Officials said they the tourists hadn’t been heard from since they placed a phone call from the Matmata area in southern Tunisia. Authorities said the missing couple was driving a Jeep with Austrian license plates when they disappeared in the North African country.