Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade

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Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade
(Arabic: لواء الشيخ عمر حديد‎)
Participant in the Gaza–Israel conflict
and Palestinian political violence
AQMI Flag asymmetric.svg
Black Standard of ISIL
Active31 May 2015–present
IdeologySalafi jihadism[1][2]
Pan-Islamism[3]
Anti-Zionism[4]
LeadersAbu Bakr al-Baghdadi (ISIL)
Yunis Hunnar (May–June 2015)
Unknown leader (June 2015–)
Area of operations Gaza Strip
 East Jerusalem
Size~200 (2015)[5]
Part ofAQMI Flag asymmetric.svg Islamic State
Originated as Al-Qaeda (then ISIL in 2014)
AlliesAQMI Flag asymmetric.svg Mujahideen Shura Council
AQMI Flag asymmetric.svg Sinai Province
Opponent(s)State Opponents

Non-State Opponents

The Islamist militant[1] group Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, (Arabic: لواء الشيخ عمر حديد‎), is a known affiliate of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, active in the Gaza Strip.[8] Its goals have consistently matched those of the Islamic State, in that it seeks to establish the al-Sham caliphate.[9] As such, it opposes all forms of Palestinian nationalism[3][10] while also supporting the destruction of the State of Israel[4] and the elimination of all Jews[11][12] and other ethno-religious 'infidels' from the region.[13][14]

The group's leader wasn't known until Hamas Police raided the home of Yunis Hunnar on June 2, 2015,[7][15] who was accused of leading the recently-formed group and was shot dead while resisting arrest.[16] The present leader is currently unknown.

The group was named after Omar Hadid, an insurgent of Iraqi origin who was a member of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.[1][17]

Political ideology[edit]

Unlike most other Islamist groups in the Palestinian Territories, the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade does not endorse Palestinian nationalism.[3][18] The geopolitical ideology of the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade can hence be defined as Pan-Islamist. In other words, the group advocates (see the Pan-Islamism Wikipedia page for more details):

"...a form of religious nationalism [that] differentiates itself from other pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example Pan-Arabism, by excluding culture and ethnicity as primary factors towards unification..."

Emergence[edit]

The Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade first emerged from the Al-Qaeda linked (Sinai and Gaza-based) Ansar Bait al-Maqdis group, in a similar way that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) emerged from Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). On November 10, 2014, numerous members of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi[19], culminating in the eventual creation of the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade on May 31, 2015.[20] In early 2015, Hamas launched a crackdown against ISIL affiliates operating in the Gaza Strip, arresting dozens of individuals.[21][22] This may have provided an incentive for ex-Ansar Bait al-Maqdis ISIL-affiliated militants to organise themselves, sparking the creation of the brigade in late May of that year.

Other reasons for the group's eventual formation include Hamas' humiliating defeat to ISIL in April 2015 during the Battle of Yarmouk Camp in Syria, where various Hamas-linked factions controlling the Yarmouk Refugee Camp were easily overrun by ISIL.[23] During the offensive, a senior Hamas official, Sheikh Abu Salah Taha, was beheaded by the ISIL militants.[24][25] This event may have had a influence on Islamists in the Palestinian Territories, who no longer saw Hamas as an entity worthy or their support and saw more of a future for ISIL.[26] ISIL affiliates in the Palestinian Territories may have used this event to their advantage, recruiting sufficient numbers of Islamists to form a viable organisation.

Organization and activity[edit]

The group is deemed to be an indirect offshoot of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, absorbing most of its former Gaza-based members among other Islamists, some originating from the Army of Islam group and others defecting from Hamas.[27] On June 2, 2015, Islamist militants claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on central Israel (from Gaza) that had been carried out in late May,[28] and also claimed responsibility for the assassination of a senior Hamas commander (see later), on behalf of the "Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade". This was the first time an operation had been launched by ISIL-affiliated Gazan Islamists under this banner, marking the beginning of the group's existence.[29]

Following the disbanding of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis in November 2014, another ISIL-affiliated offshoot group was indirectly formed in Egypt, known as Sinai Province or Wilayat Sinai, a Sinai-based group.[30] Wilayat Sinai is a known ally of the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, and both groups are known to have smuggled supplies to each other across the Egypt-Gaza border. This trading relationship was severely impeded during the summer of 2015, when the Egyptian Army dug a deep trench along the border.[6]

Designation as a terrorist organization[edit]

Since the group is a known affiliate of ISIL, all international terrorist designations given to ISIL also apply to the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, these having been given by; the United Nations,[31][32][33] the European Union,[34] the United Kingdom,[35] the United States of America,[36] Australia,[37] Canada,[38] Turkey,[39][40] Saudi Arabia,[41] Indonesia,[42] the United Arab Emirates,[43] Malaysia,[44] Egypt,[45][46] India,[47][48] Russia,[49] Kyrgyzstan,[50] and Syria[51] (see the Islamic State Wikipedia Page for more details).

Operations[edit]

Involvement in Palestinian civil conflicts[edit]

  • May 31, 2015 — The group's first official attack was carried out against a Hamas commander, in a car bombing in Gaza. The target, Saber Siam, was killed instantly.[52][53]
  • June 26, 2015 — The group distributed leaflets around East Jerusalem, containing death threats towards Arab Christians living in the West Bank.[54]

Involvement in Israeli-Palestinian conflicts[edit]

  • June 3, 2015 — Two separate rocket attacks were launched on Israel from Gaza, both of which failed. One landed in the Negev, while the other landed near Ashkelon.[55][56]
  • June 11, 2015 — An attempted rocket attack targeting Ashkelon was carried out from Gaza. The rocket apparently failed to reach its target and exploded in Gaza instead.[57][56]
  • July 16, 2015 — A rocket attack from Gaza aimed at Ashkelon failed, with the rocket exploding over open territory in the western Negev.[56]
  • August 26, 2015 — Another similar rocket attack failed, with the rocket landing between a small Israeli community and the border security fence.[56][58]
  • September 18, 2015 — Two rockets were launched in an attack on southern Israeli cities. The first rocket landed in Sderot, destroying a bus and damaging a residence, though no casualties were reported. The Iron Dome system intercepted the second rocket, fired a few hours later, which was aimed at Ashkelon.[59]
  • September 29, 2015 — Two separate rocket attacks aimed at Ashdod failed. Both rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.[60][56]
  • October 26, 2015 — A rocket attack from Gaza failed, with the rocket landing in open territory in the western Negev.[61][56]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade". TRAC. TRAC. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  2. ^ "New Salafi Jihadi Group in Gaza: The Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e Beauchamp, Zack (July 2, 2015). "ISIS is threatening Hamas in Gaza". Both "the secular nationalism" of Fatah and "the Islamist nationalism of [Hamas] have run aground," Hussein Ibish, Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute, explains. "So in come the anti-nationalists, who say 'no, no, that's all wrong. It's all about God, Umma, and the caliphate.'" That is ISIS's opening: Palestinians, especially the younger generation, are fed up with their current leaders and looking for something new. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Silverman, Anav (August 15, 2014). "ISIS in Gaza has Israel on watch". BreakingIsraelNews: According to a recent Gatestone Institute publication, the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has begun to grow in the Gaza Strip, with both the PA and Israel convinced that followers of ISIS in Gaza have been responsible for some of the rocket attacks on Israel. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  5. ^ "Palestinian Salafists pose dangerous new problem for Hamas". Guardian: The conflict with the militant Salafists – totalling a few hundred at most – has led to a Hamas crackdown and, in reprisal, three rockets fired by the Salafists at Israel. June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Mohamed, Yusri (June 22, 2015). "Egypt army digs trench along Gaza border to prevent smuggling". TheDailyStar (Lebanon): The Egyptian army is digging a trench in northern Sinai along the border with Gaza in an effort to prevent smuggling, security sources said Monday, as the government steps up activities to prevent militant attacks that often target security forces. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Blade, Elizabeth (June 9, 2015). "Worse Than Hamas? ISIS in Gaza". IsraelToday: Earlier this month Hamas "police" stormed the Gaza home of Yunis Hunnar, believed to be a member of a Salafi group linked to ISIS. A Hamas spokesman later said Hunnar had carried out attacks against the ruling group in May. Nor was it the first time Hamas' rule had been challenged by Islamists more radical than itself. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
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  12. ^ Baskin, Gregory (August 30, 2014). "Gaza Strip: ISIS Intent on Palestine and Murder of Jews". LibertyVoice (Guardian): The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is the organization that has quickly gained control of vast areas of Syria and Iraq using no-holds-barred tactics such as beheadings, kidnappings, and bombings, has now declared that one of its goals is "to fight the barbaric Jews and kill those of them hiding behind the gharqad trees, the trees of the Jews". Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  13. ^ Benari, Elad (July 8, 2014). "ISIS: Fighting 'Infidels' Takes Precedence Over Fighting Israel". ArutzSheva7: ISIS spokesman says the group first has to deal with fellow Muslims it views as infidels before it attacks Israel. According to Israel's Channel 2 News, an ISIS spokesman said Monday on Twitter, in response to questions about the organization's intentions with regards to Israel, that ISIS first has to deal with "Muslims who have become infidels". Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  14. ^ Lamb, Franklin (June 23, 2014). "Will ISIS Create al-Sham Caliphate and Liberate Palestine?". Foreign Policy Journal. Retrieved June 2, 2015. Ein el Helwe Palestinian camp, LEBANON — One need not be prescient to understand the unfolding "Jihadi Spring" is fueling the plans and perhaps destiny of ascendant Islamists in this region with the increasing help of in-country nationalists, including remnants of the Iraqi Baath Party
  15. ^ "After Security Services Killed a Man While Attempting to Arrest Him, PCHR Calls Upon Attorney General in Gaza to Investigate the Incident and Publish Results". PCHR: On Tuesday 02 June 2015, security Services in the Gaza Strip killed Yunis Sa'id al-Hunnar while attempting to arrest him from his house in Shaikh Redwan neighborhood in Gaza City. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned over this incident, and calls upon the Attorney General to investigate it, find out why security services opened fire, verify that security services exhausted all the necessary measures before using live ammunition that resulted in the killing of al-Hunnar and publish the results of the investigation. June 2, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  16. ^ Yashar, Ari (June 2, 2015). "Hamas Kills Local ISIS Leader in Gaza Shootout". ArutzSheva7: Round 1? Salafist leader killed after violently resisting arrest for 'illegal activities,' as ISIS threat looks likely to come to fruition. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  17. ^ Jawad Al-Tamimi, Aymenn (June 2, 2015). "New Salafi Jihadi Group in Gaza". A new group in Gaza calling itself the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade claimed credit for rocket attacks on Ashdod in late May. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  18. ^ Allmeling, Anne (July 28, 2014). "ISIS threatening to redraw Mideast borders". DWNews: "The group's goal is to establish their cross-boundary zone, beginning in Syria and Iraq," said Falko Walde of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Amman, Jordan. And that's only an intermediary step, he added - ISIS wants to reach other states in the region, including Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and even Cyprus and parts of southern Turkey. "The group wants to create a state rooted in its conceptions of politics and society," Walde said... Al-Baghdadi, who was born in Iraq, views himself as a successor to the prophet Mohammed, claims to rule over all Muslims and has taken up the old idea of an Islamic empire. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  19. ^ "Egypt jihadists vow loyalty to IS as Iraq probes leader's fate". AFP. 10 November 2014.
  20. ^ Jawad Al-Tamimi, Aymenn (June 2, 2015). "New Salafi Jihadi Group in Gaza". A new group in Gaza calling itself the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade claimed credit for rocket attacks on Ashdod in late May. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  21. ^ Reed, John (June 1, 2015). "Hamas seeks to stamp out ISIS in Gaza". FinancialTimes: Hamas seeks to stamp out ISIS in Gaza. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  22. ^ Shuttleworth, Kate (September 19, 2015). "Israeli airstrikes target Hamas after rocket attacks". TheGuardian: In May, Hamas launched a serious crackdown on the [Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade] group, imprisoning dozens of its members. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  23. ^ Perring, Rebecca (June 1, 2015). "ISIS turns on Hamas in Gaza over its crackdown on extremists". Express: The Islamist extremists warned Hamas to "end its war against religion" on the Israeli border of Gaza or "face the consequences". Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007, sees more radical groups as a threat. Hamas launched a crackdown on the Islamist extremists following a series of unclaimed bombings. It has arrested dozens of ISIS supporters in recent weeks, including Imams, following the terror group's takeover of the Yarmouk Palestine refugee camp near Damascus. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  24. ^ Soffer, Ari (April 5, 2015). "Report: ISIS Beheads Senior Hamas Operative in Syria". ArutzSheva7: Sheikh Abu Salah Taha believed to be among scores of Palestinians executed in Yarmouk; image of severed head posted online. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  25. ^ E.Buxbaum, Robert (May 7, 2015). "Hamas head deposed, no peace in the middle east". REBResearch: Just about one month ago, the head of the head of Hamas in Syria was removed from his position atop Sheikh Abu Salah Taha's shoulders. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  26. ^ Smolar, Piotr (June 16, 2015). "ISIS And Corruption Undermine Hamas Rule In Gaza". WorldCrunch: Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza, is now facing a challenge from Islamic State insurgents and growing disenchantment with its leadership. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  27. ^ Beaumont, Peter (June 10, 2015). "Palestinian Salafists pose dangerous new problem for Hamas". TheGuardian: “We don’t have our own rockets,” [Abu Bilel] explained, adding that members of [the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade] group had also had “military training” from former members of Hamas who had defected. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  28. ^ Klein, Aaron (June 2, 2015). "Video: ISIS supporters launch rocket attack on Israel". WND: Jihadists tied to caliphate challenging Hamas rule in Gaza. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  29. ^ Klein, Aaron (June 2, 2015). "ISIS issues dire warning to Israel". WND: Supporters have claimed responsibility for rocket attack. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
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  53. ^ Perring, Rebecca (June 1, 2015). "ISIS turns on Hamas in Gaza". SundayExpress: ISLAMIC State (ISIS) terrorists have given the ruling Islamic Hamas movement in Gaza 48 hours to stop its crackdown on them. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  54. ^ Schwartz, Sharona (June 28, 2015). "A Chilling Message Was Sent to Christians from the 'Islamic State in Palestine'". TheBlaze: A group calling itself the "Islamic State in Palestine" spread fliers in east Jerusalem warning Christians who live there to brace themselves for "revenge," an Israeli television station reported Israel's Channel 10 television reported Thursday that it was the first time such a leaflet attributed to the Islamic State group was distributed threatening Christian residents of Jerusalem. The text of the message vowed to take "revenge" on "heretics". Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  55. ^ "IDF Strikes Gaza After at Least Two Rockets Fired". Haaretz: Israel Air Force jets struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning, after at least two rockets were fired from the Strip at southern Israel on Wednesday evening. June 4, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
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  59. ^ "Rocket sirens sound in western Negev in false alarm". TimesOfIsrael: On Friday evening, the Iron Dome intercepted a rocket fired at the southern city of Ashkelon, hours after a similar attack saw a rocket strike land in a residential area of Sderot. September 19, 2015. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
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Further reading[edit]