Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), an al- Qaida-affiliate group active in
Yemen and Saudi Arabia, issued a statement late Wednesday expressing condolences
for the deaths of two Salafist-Jihadist leaders killed in Gaza.
killed the two men, Hisham Ali Abd al-Karim Saidani and Ashraf al-Sabah, in an
air strike earlier this month.
Saidani, also known by his codename, Abu
al-Walid al- Maqdisi, was a top operative of Jamaat al-Tawhid wal- Jihad,
considered the most important jihadist organization in the Gaza
Sabah was the founder of another jihadist group, Ansar
AQAP’s statement, published on the As-Ansar website and a
number of other jihadist forums, and translated by The Jerusalem Post, said, “We
ask God to heal our wounded mujahadin brethren in Palestine for their loss, and
to reward them with great patience and resolve on the path of jihad and
sacrifice for Palestine’s liberation.”
AQAP said in its statement that
the two terrorists were martyrs who had died “at the hands of the rapist Jews,”
and that their sacrifices were part of jihad against the Jews.
statement is the latest in a series of condolences issued in the past two weeks
by al-Qaida-affiliated groups over the killings of Saidani and Sabah.
condolences, several of which include threats of retaliation against Israel,
highlight the strong ideological and operational links between Salafist-
Jihadist terrorist groups in Gaza and Sinai, and other al-Qaida affiliates
around the world, including in Egypt and Jordan.
Among the groups that
issued threats is Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis (“Supporters of Jerusalem”), the most
active of Sinai’s Salafist Jihadist organizations, which claimed responsibility
for the border attack that killed IDF Artillery Corps Cpl. Natanel
Yahalomi, 20, from Nof Ayalon, on September 21. In its statement, the group
threatened large-scale revenge on Israel, saying “the blood of Muslim heroes is
not cheap, nor is it shed in vain. The Jews will pay.”
groups in Jordan have also threatened Israel with terrorist attacks, with a
radical Jordanian cleric admitting this week that his group had planned a
suicide attack in Israel. Abu Abu Muhammad al-Tahawi said that Jordanian
Salafists were “getting closer to Palestine via Jordan, Syria and
The two slain Gaza terrorists both had strong links with jihadi
groups in both Sinai and Jordan.
According to the Meir Amit Intelligence
and Terrorism Information Center, Saidani had Egyptian citizenship and first
became involved with the Salafist- Jihadist movement while living in Cairo.
After moving to Jordan, Saidani met al-Qaida ideologue Abu Muhammad Asem
al-Maqdisi, a Jordanian considered the mentor of former al- Qaida in Iraq leader
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Saidani later founded Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad,
which carried out a number of terrorist attacks against Israel.
with Sabah, Saidani founded a new group, the Mujahideen Shura Council in Greater
Jerusalem (MSC), an umbrella organization for Gazan Salafist-Jihadist groups
with links to global jihad.
MSC is active in both Sinai and Gaza and has
carried out a number of terrorist attacks against Israel, including rocket
attacks and the June 18 shooting on the Sinai border that claimed the life of
Saeed Fashafshe, an Israeli civilian from Haifa.
This week, the MSC
released a video with details of its rocket attacks, threatening to continue
“We will pound your settlements and will uproot you,
God permitting, from our land, and we will fight you as long as we hold weapons
in our hands,” the video said.
Attacks from Sinai and Gaza
Salafist-Jihadist groups have prompted the IDF to target the organizations’
senior operatives. Last week’s targeted killings of Saidani and Sabah was the
latest in a string of operations against terrorists in the Strip.
October 7, the IDF killed MSC operative Abdullah Muhammad Hassan Maqawai and
Tala’at Halil Muhammad Jarbi, a senior global jihad agent responsible for
terrorist activity targeting Israeli civilian and security personnel. Jarbi was
planning a complex terrorist attack at the Sinai border, the IDF
Relations between Gaza and Sinai’s Salafist-Jihadist groups and
Hamas are also increasingly tense.
Salafists do not recognize Hamas’s
control over Gaza and say their aim is to establish an Islamic emirate on the
strip. In an interview with Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat on Tuesday, prominent
Gaza Salafist Abu Abdul-Muhajir accused Egypt of helping Hamas to attack MSC
operatives in Gaza, saying that Egyptian intelligence had interrogated Sheikh
Abu Suhayb Rashwan, a Salafist held by Hamas, over the September 21 terrorist
attack on the Sinai border. Muhajir described that attack, in which IDF soldier
Yahalomi was killed, as “heroic.”