Jihadis Urge Formation of a New Mujahideen Council to Avenge Israel’s Assault on Gaza

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 6 Issue: 1

The mujahideen in Gaza have called upon the Iraqi mujahideen to support them by uniting their ranks and intensifying attacks on the U.S. occupiers in Iraq (hanein.org, January 2). Although jihadis of various religious convictions put aside their ideological differences to voice support in internet forums for Hamas in Gaza, the Salafi-Jihadis made clear they do not fully support Hamas, urging Salafis to unite and engage the Israeli forces in the whole of Palestine (majahden.com, January 3).

A jihadi forum participant, nicknamed “Alaw,” called upon Iraqi jihadi groups to unite under one flag and support Hamas in Gaza by increasing the number of attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. “Support us by uniting your ranks and intensifying your joint operations against the extorting occupier. Commence the formation of joint committees among different jihadi groups to compel your political leadership to refrain from supporting the Jews you fought with us in the past,” a reference to the old Iraqi regimes that contributed troops to the 1948, 1967, and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars and allocated money for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers (hanein.org, January 2).

Also on hanein.org, a frequent contributor nicknamed “Baghdad al-Khilafa” voiced support for jihadis in Gaza, at the same time criticizing Hamas for participating in the political process in the Palestinian territories. Al-Khilafa suggested Hamas left no choice for true jihadis such as those found in Jund al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam except to wage a separate holy war against Israel. Al-Khilafa called upon Salafis in the territories to set up an underground “Islamic Mujahideen Council in the Land of Jerusalem” (Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen Bibilad Bait al-Maqdis – Bait al-Maqdis is an alternative Muslim name for Jerusalem). Al-Khilafa says, “Be careful not to include Muslim Brothers, Shiites and groups of atheist and democratic agendas,” a reference to the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas. The proposed Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen would appoint an amir and deputies to supervise logistical battalions tasked with targeting Israeli and Western interests in the region, propaganda battalions, surveillance and reconnaissance battalions to collect needed intelligence on the enemy and even the jihadi cells to prevent penetration by the enemy. At the fore of the struggle would be military battalions tasked with attacking Christians and Jews, especially in the Israeli settlements. The military battalions are to be divided into a suicide detachment, a sniper detachment, a rapid intervention detachment and a fourth detachment specializing in the abduction of Israeli settlers.

Another posting entitled “After the Jewish crime in Gaza … Palestinians, who are your enemies and friends?” by a well-known forum contributor nicknamed “Asad al-Jihad” claims the Israeli war on Gaza is fully sanctioned by international powers and Arab countries (majahden.com, January 3). Asad Al-Jihad accuses Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt of conspiring with Israel against the Palestinians of Gaza, warning them not to trust Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, as they will try to manipulate Gazans for their own agendas. Al-Jihad vowed to help the Palestinians against Israel, quoting from one of Osama Bin Laden’s speeches in support of the Palestinians: “I assure our people in Palestine that we are going to expand our activities and will not recognize any borders set by the Sykes-Picot accord nor any rulers appointed by the occupiers. I swear to God, we will come to help you even if we have to be cruel” (muslm.net December 12, 2008). [1] Further, al-Jihad encourages the Palestinian Salafis to avenge Israeli attacks on Gaza after the war abates, using surprise bombing attacks when least expected. Al-Jihad believes the war in Gaza presents the onset of major changes in the region, especially in Egypt.

Another widely circulated reaction to the war in Gaza was a statement by the Amir of the Islamic Army in Iraq (al-Jaysh al-Islami fi al-Iraq) The Amir alleges the group has information confirming a conspiracy by Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian National Authority to destroy Hamas, allow Egypt to annex Gaza and give Jordan parts of the West Bank. The Amir called upon Islamic scholars and Arab rulers to declare jihad against the Israelis and strike their interests anywhere. (alboraq.info December 31, 2008).

Finally, Ayman al-Zawahiri released a speech entitled “The Gaza Massacre and the Traitors’ Siege” (al-Sahab Media Productions, muslm.net January 6, 2009). Al-Zawahiri promised to avenge the killed Palestinians, attack Jewish and crusaders’ interests, come to the aid of the Palestinian mujahideen and called upon Muslims in general and the Egyptian people and army in particular not to betray their religion by enforcing a blockade on Gaza as ordered by their “traitor” president:

My Muslim and mujahid brothers in Gaza and the rest of Palestine; what you are facing today is not an occupation trial, limited within an area or a specific country; it is a part in the series of Zionist-Crusader campaigns on the Muslim nation, and these raids are a gift for you from Obama before he takes his post and [Egyptian president] Hosni Mubarak, the traitor, is the main partner in besieging and killing you. For in the time that the Israeli aircraft bombard you from the air, he closes the borders with his troops, to achieve the plan of killing Muslims in Gaza. The same dirty role which the Jews played in [the 1982] Sabra and Shatila massacres… My Muslim and mujahid brothers in Gaza and the rest of Palestine; We are with you in the battle, striking the Zionistic-Crusader alliance wherever we can, and we are proceeding to you promptly, and soon we will – by Allah’s might – destroy the borders and constraints that prevent us from reaching you. The withdrawal of Americans from Iraq is a good omen for approaching you by Allah’s might (al-Faloja.info, January 6).
The majority of jihadi forum participants hailed al-Zawahiri’s speech, but a few others thought it was a repetition of the promised future role of al-Qaeda in liberating Palestine, which has appeared many times in al-Qaeda rhetoric. Regardless of the uninspiring speech by al-Zawahiri, some jihadis believe al-Qaeda will attempt attacks on Israeli and Western targets in revenge for Israel’s war on Hamas.