The revelation that an Egyptian and a Saudi national infiltrated southern Israel from Sinai on June 18 and killed an Israeli worker is the first credible sign of the emerging global jihadist threat in the peninsula. Previously, groups using the names "al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula" and "Ansar al-Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula" had released statements announcing themselves and pledging fealty to al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri in August and December 2011 and January 2012; members of different jihadist factions had also been arrested in al-Arish. Until now, however, it was difficult to assess the legitimacy and true capabilities of these groups.
Yesterday, a new group called Majlis Shura al-Mujahedin Fi Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis (the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, or MSC) announced itself, issuing two statements and a video martyrdom message from the attackers, Abu Salah al-Masri and Abu Hadhifa al-Hidhali. Both men were killed by Israeli security forces following the attack, and a senior MSC member was killed by an Israeli airstrike near Rafah today.
The choice of non-Palestinians to conduct the attacks could be part of a conscious effort to establish the Sinai as a new base of jihad operations, providing an opportunity for all Muslims -- not just Palestinians -- to fight Israel. And the MSC's credentials are enhanced by the fact that its statements and video were first posted on al-Qaeda's official jihadist forum, Shamukh al-Islam, by an organization called Ibn Taymiyya Media, a Palestinian global jihadist media outlet most closely associated with imprisoned cleric Sheikh Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi and his followers.
In its releases, MSC named the operation the "Raid of Support for al-Aqsa and the Prisoners," dedicating it to "the reviver" Usama bin Laden, the people of Syria, the "mujahedin in the fields of jihad," and the oppressed jihadist "lions" in Gaza. It also described the raid as the opening round in the second Battle of Hattin, evoking Salah al-Din's 1187 retaking of Jerusalem from Crusader forces.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment