Jund Ansar Allah
Jund Ansar Allah (Arabic: جند أنصار الله, Soldiers of the Supporters' of Allah) is an armed Islamist organization operating in the Gaza Strip. On August 14, 2009, the group's spiritual leader, Sheikh Abdel Latif Moussa, announced the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the Palestinian territories and criticized the ruling power, Hamas, for failing to enforce Sharia law. In response, Hamas attacked the organization. 24 people died during the fighting, including Moussa.
Announcing its establishment in November 2008, Jund Ansar Allah is an al-Qaeda inspired organization ideologically affiliated with the movement for global jihad. Sheikh Abdel Latif Moussa, an "Egyptian-educated physician-turned-cleric," was the group's spiritual leader. About two years ago, he left his medical practice in Rafah to become one of the most influential preachers in the southern Gaza Strip. In his Friday sermons that attracted thousands of young men, Moussa argued that Hamas had failed to properly institute Sharia law and had become too lenient. Hamas repeatedly warned Moussa and his followers to abandon his mosque in Rafah.
Jund Ansar Allah remained relatively unknown until June 8, 2009 when it launched a military operation against an IDF force near the Nahal Oz border crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF successfully foiled the attack, which incorporated the use of horses booby-trapped with IEDs and explosives. Five Jund Ansar Allah operatives died in the operation.
On 8 June 2009 the group carried out a raid on the Karni border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel. After ten mujahideen from the group rode into battle on horses laden with large quantities of explosives, at least three of them were shot dead by Israeli troops. Israeli officials said several of the men had been wearing explosive belts, and suspected they had been attempting to kidnap a soldier.
Hamas officials have also blamed the group for the bombings of several internet cafes, seen as a source of immorality, and of a wedding party attended by relatives of the West Bank-based Fatah leader, Muhammad Dahlan, in which fifty people were injured. Jund Ansar Allah denied any responsibility for the latter attack, and Fatah leaders blamed Hamas. In August 2009, a senior Hamas official told The Jerusalem Post that Jund Ansar Allah received its weapons from former Fatah policemen and security officials in the southern Gaza Strip and that the aim of its attacks were to "defame" Hamas.
Declaration of an Islamic emirate
On Friday, August 14, 2009, Moussa unexpectedly declared the creation of an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip before 100 of his armed followers at the Ibn-Taymiyah mosque in Rafah. During his sermon, Moussa condemned Hamas for failing to implement Sharia law and acting like a "secular government."
Regarding the sermon as a challenge to its rule over the Gaza Strip, Hamas forces surrounded the mosque and demanded those inside surrender. Exchanges of gunfire erupted into a seven-hour battle in which Hamas fighters sealed off the entire neighborhood and fired rocket-propelled grenades at the mosque. During the firefight, 24 Palestinians were killed and more than 130 injured. The dead included twelve Jund Ansar Allah members, six Hamas members and six non-combatants, including three young children aged 8, 10 and 13. An Egyptian security official said a three-year-old boy across the border with Egypt was critically wounded by a bullet from the fighting. Moussa killed himself and a Hamas fighter by detonating an explosive belt strapped around his waist after being trapped in his house. The house was dynamited by Hamas forces. Abu-Jibril Shimali, head of Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in the southern Gaza Strip, died in the fighting. Israel believes that Shimali orchestrated the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a June 2006 cross-border raid.
Hamas did not permit media coverage of the event, barring journalists from entering Rafah or interviewing the wounded.
Following the clashes, a number of al-Qaida-affiliated groups condemned Hamas as an apostate movement that committed "massacre" and charged Hamas's actions to "serve the interest of the Jewish usurpers of Palestine and the Christians who are fighting Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Somalia".
Websites associated with Fatah later released cellphone footage of what appeared to be Hamas executing Jund Ansar Allah fighters during the clash. The video showed black-clad Hamas militants gathering several men from the rebel group in a mosque courtyard, and then mowing them down in a fierce burst of gunfire. Some of the Jund Ansar Allah men were shown lying motionless and bleeding on the ground. In two scenes, Hamas militants appeared to be shooting captives execution-style at close range, and bodies were seen falling to the ground. In another scene, a group of Jund Ansar Allah captives were seen standing motionless against a wall a few meters away. Israeli television Channel 10 also broadcast a recording of what it said was the Hamas military communication channel, ordering Hamas forces to execute everyone. There was no immediate comment from Hamas officials. However, Hamas had previously denied that an execution took place at the site, or that members of Jund Ansar Allah were "massacred."
Following the battle, Jund Ansar Allah vowed to attack Hamas security compounds and mosques in retaliation. On 29 August, bombs exploded inside a security compound and near a mosque in Gaza City, according to security officials. Nobody was injured in the attacks. Jund Ansar al-Jihad wal Sunna, a previously unknown Islamist group, claimed responsibility for the attack on the Hamas security headquarters, declaring: "We urge our jihadist brothers to join forces to conduct painful joint attacks against those miscreant apostates [Hamas] and end their reign."  The Associated Press said that "the two explosions appear[ed] to be revenge attacks against Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers," and suggested a link with Jund Ansar Allah.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010)|
A message issued on the group's website and jihadist forums on the day of the clash with Hamas stated:
- "News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: June 2-9, 2009". Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 9 June 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- Beaumont, Peter (16 August 2009). "Hamas destroys al-Qaida group in violent Gaza battle". The Observer (London). Retrieved 17 August 2009.
- "Jund Ansar Allah leader killed himself". The Jerusalem Post. 16 August 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- "Jund Ansar Allah group was armed by Fatah operatives, Hamas claims". The Jerusalem Post. 16 August 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- "Hamas Police End Standoff With Muslim Extremists". Fox News. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- Profile: Jund Ansar Allah, BBC News 15-08-2009
- KHALED ABU TOAMEH (August 16, 2009). "Jund Ansar Allah group was armed by Fatah operatives, Hamas claims". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-09-19.
- Hamas says Gaza now under control, BBC News 15-08-2009
- "News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: August 12-18, 2009". Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 20 August 2009. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
- Jund Ansar Allah: Operation against us was unwarranted, Ma'an 16-08-2009
- All 24 victims of Friday's Rafah clashes identified, buried, Ma'an 07-09-2009
- Mai Yaghi, Gaza clashes between Hamas, Islamist radicals kill 13, AFP 14-08-2009
- "Islamist leader dies in Gaza battle". Al Jazeera English. 15 August 2009. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
- Gaza's radical Islamists: Hamas serves the Jewish usurpers, JPost, August 20, 2009
- Avi Issacharoff, Hamas men killing Al-Qaida rebels caught on tape, Haaretz 26-08-2009
- http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jghfSEQWXkoxob19Acz8XKzqGMgg, AFP 04-09-2009
- Rizek Abdul Jawad, 2 bombs explode in Gaza compound, outside mosque, Associated Press 29-08-2009