Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem

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Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem
Leader(s)

Hisham Al-Saedni (2011–2012)
Since unknown

Abdallah al-Ashqar(2015 -present)[1]
Dates of operation 2011–present
Active region(s) Gaza Strip
Ideology Salafi jihadism
Status Supporter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[2]
Designated as terrorist organization by the United States and others.

The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem or simply the Mujahideen Shura Council (also known as the Mujahideen Shura Council of Jerusalem, in Arabic: Majlis Shura Al-Mujahideen,[3] Magles Shoura al-Mujahedeen, and other names) is an armed Salafi jihadist group[4] linked to al-Qaeda[5] that is active in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and in the Gaza Strip. The group was formed in 2011 or 2012 by Salafist Islamist Hisham Al-Saedni (also known as Abu al Walid al Maqdisi)[6] to coordinate the activities of the Salafi jihadist groups operating in Gaza even before the Egyptian Revolution of 2011[7] and has carried out attacks against civilians in Israel.[5] The group describes violence against Jews as a religious obligation that brings its perpetrators closer to God.[8] Al-Saedni, who was the leader of the group and also of Jahafil Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad fi Filastin, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on 14 October 2012.[9]

In February 2014, the group declared its support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[2] The group was designated a terrorist organization by the US State Department on 19 August 2014.[10] In its explanation for the designation the State Department noted that:

"the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem is an umbrella group composed of several jihadist terrorist sub-groups based in Gaza that has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on Israel since the group’s founding in 2012. For example, on August 13, 2013, MSC claimed responsibility for a rocket attack targeting the southern city of Eilat, Israel. Previously, MSC claimed responsibility for the March 21, 2013 attack in which Gaza-based militants fired at least five rockets at Sderot, Israel, and the April 17, 2013 attack in which two rockets were fired at Eilat, Israel. In addition to the rocket launches, MSC declared itself responsible for a Gaza-Israel cross-border IED attack on June 18, 2012 that targeted an Israeli construction site, killing one civilian. In addition to these physical attacks, the MSC released a statement in February 2014 declaring support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)."

One of these sub-groups is Jahafil Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad fi Filastin[6] (or al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, "Unity and Jihad") which had been formed on 6 November 2008 and is also linked to Al Qaeda. In 2011 the group was also led by Hisham Al-Saedni.[11] Another sub-group is Ansar al Sunnah, which has taken responsibility for several rocket attacks against Israel, including a rocket attack in March 2010 that killed a Thai worker in Israel. Following the March 2010 attack, Haaretz reported that the group was "apparently linked to Jund Ansar Allah," another jihadist group operating in Gaza.[6]

History[edit]

18 June 2012 attack[edit]

The group claimed responsibility for a cross border attack in Israel on 18 June 2012, when attackers detonated an improvised explosive device near the Egyptian-Israeli border and opened fire on vehicles carrying construction workers. Israeli civilian Saeed Fashafshe, a 35-year-old Arab resident of Haifa and a married father of four, was killed, as were at least two of the terrorists.[5][12][13]

In a video, the group said the attack was dedicated to Osama bin Laden and Syrian jihadists. It further stated that it is waging jihad "to become a building block in the global project aiming for the return of the rightly-guided Caliphate and the institution of the pure Shariah". It identified the leaders of the attack as Egyptian citizen Khalid Salah Abdul Hadi Jadullah (also known as Abu Salah al Masri) and Saudi citizen Adi Saleh Abdullah al Fudhayli al Hadhli (also known as Abu Hudhayfa al Hudhali).[5][14][15]

In a later video statement released in July, the group characterized the attack as "a gift to our brothers in Qaedat al-Jihad and Sheikh Zawahiri" and retaliation for the death of Osama bin Laden.[16][17]

26 August 2012 attack[edit]

The group launched three rockets at the Israeli city of Sderot on 26 August 2012. One of the rockets damaged a building in an industrial area near the city. One person was lightly wounded and a second was treated for acute stress reaction.[18]

In an internet statement, the group took credit for the attack and asked God to "assist us against the unbelieving people". It emphasized the following points in explaining the rationale for the attack:

  • Jihad for the sake of Allah against the criminal Jews is an obligation that we draw closer to Allah whenever we find a way to that, in any place, by what Allah facilitates to us from the reasons of power and repelling.
  • It is a right for the mujahidin of the Ummah to support and aid them, and it is unacceptable that any party targets them by harassing or persecution or arrest, as long as they have only left to do an obligation required from every Muslim in a time when many are reluctant from going to jihad.
  • All those sincere in the organizations should shake off the dust of humiliation, sitting back and reckon to the mortal ruins of this Dunya, and rise up to support their religion and defend their sanctities, and they should remember that they have only joined their organizations for the jihad for the sake of Allah.
  • Let the Jews know that the holy sites, sanctities and blood have men who don’t sleep over oppression, and aren’t pleased by humiliation, and spend their blood and what they own cheaply for that, and what is coming is worst and more bitter by the willing of Allah the Irresistible Avenger.[8]

Response by the Israel Defense Forces[edit]

On 7 October 2012, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israel Security Agency carried out an air strike in the southern Gaza Strip targeting Tala'at Halil Muhammad Jarbi, who the IDF said was involved in the planning and execution of the June 18 attack and other terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip. Also targeted in the air strike was Abdullah Muhammad Hassan Maqawai, who was said to be a member of the group.[17]

On 14 October 2012, al-Saedni was killed while on a motorcycle in an Israeli airstrike. Israel said it was responding to a rocket attack on southern Israel earlier.[9]

21 March 2013 attack[edit]

Around 7:15 am on 21 March 2013, on the second day of a visit by US President Barack Obama to Israel, the group fired four rockets from Beit Hanoun at Sderot, triggering alarms in local communities and forcing residents on their way to work or school to run to bomb shelters. One rocket hit the backyard of a home in the city, spraying shrapnel into the walls and shattering windows. A second projectile landed in an open area within the surrounding Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. The two remaining rockets landed within the Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.[19][20][21][22]

The group claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was meant to show that Israeli air defenses could not stop attacks on the Jewish state.[23]

Hamas crackdown[edit]

In July 2013, Hamas cracked down on PRC and MSC activities in Gaza, arresting a number of their members.[24]

Denial[edit]

The group denied involvement in the August 2012 Egypt-Israel border attack, in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed and an Israeli border post was stormed.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Terrorist Designations of Abdallah al-Ashqar". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Gaza Salafists pledge allegiance to ISIS – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Israeli airstrike targets terror operatives in Gaza, CNN 15-10-2012
  4. ^ "Salafi Leader in Gaza on Attacks Against Israel". ASHARQ AL-AWSAT. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d Thomas Joscelyn, Al Qaeda-linked group claims responsibility for attack in Israel, Long War Journal (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies) 19-06-2012
  6. ^ a b c "Mujahideen Shura Council is consolidation of Salafi-Jihadist groups in Gaza: sources". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Bill Roggio, Mujahideen Shura Council denies involvement in Sinai assault, Long War Journal (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies) 06-08-2012
  8. ^ a b Response of the lions to the aggressions of the Jews: Shelling Zionist Sderot with three rockets, Majlis Shura Al-Mujahidin 01-09-2012
  9. ^ a b "Five Gaza militants killed in air strikes". BBC News. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "Terrorist Designation of the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC)". US State Department. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Donnison, Joy (15 October 2012). "Israel seeks to contain Gaza's Salafi-jihadist threat". BBC (Gaza City). Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  12. ^ Haifa man named as victim of terrorist attack on Egypt border, Haaretz 16-06-2012
  13. ^ ICT Database Insight: “The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem" A New Player in the Lawless “Wild West” of the Sinai Peninsula?, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism 20-08-2012
  14. ^ Islamic group claims responsibility for attack on Egypt border, Times of Israel 19-06-2012
  15. ^ Hamas fires barrage of rockets into Israel, BBC News 19-06-2012
  16. ^ Bill Roggio, Mujahideen Shura Council calls attack in Israel a 'gift' to Zawahiri and al Qaeda 'brothers', Long War Journal (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies) 30-07-2012
  17. ^ a b David Barnett, Israel targets Mujahideen Shura Council and Global Jihad terrorists in Gaza, Long War Journal (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies) 07-10-2012
  18. ^ Salafi Terrorists: Jihad Against 'Criminal Jews' is a Duty, Israel National News 27-08-2012
  19. ^ Two rockets slam into Sderot during Obama visit, Jerusalem Post 21-03-2013
  20. ^ Rockets hit Sderot as Obama visits Israel, Ynet News 21-03-2013
  21. ^ Gaza militants fire 2 rockets at Israel as Obama visits region, CBC 21-03-2013
  22. ^ Two rockets fired from Gaza strike Israel on second day of Obama's visit, Daily Mail 21-03-2013
  23. ^ Islamist group says it fired rockets at Israel from Gaza, Reuters 21-03-2013
  24. ^ Popular Resistance Committees calls on Hamas to stop arrests of 'mujahideen' July 22, 2013