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Tawhid al-Jihad (Gaza Strip)

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Jahafil Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad fi Filastin
(Arabic: جحافل التوحيد والجهاد في فلسطين‎)
Participant in the Gaza–Israel conflict and
the Global War on Terrorism
Flag of Jihad.svg
The Shahada flag commonly used by al-Qaeda.
Active6 November 2008 – present
IdeologySalafist jihadism
Part of Al-Qaeda
AlliesAl-Qaeda in Sinai Peninsula
Opponent(s) United States Armed Forces
Battles and war(s)Gaza–Israel conflict and
the Global War on Terrorism

Jahafil Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad fi Filastin (Arabic: جحافل التوحيد والجهاد في فلسطين‎, "The Armies of Monotheism and Jihad in Palestine") is a Sunni Islamist Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula, and is the branch of al-Qaeda in Gaza. The establishment of the group was publicly announced on 6 November 2008, with communiqués vowing loyalty to al-Qaeda, after having "received the messages of Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri."[1] Various forms of the "Tawhid al-Jihad" label have appeared in relation to developments in the Gaza Strip. The size of the group is not publicly known.

2006 Dahab bombings

Terrorists involved in the April 2006 Dahab bombings in Egypt confessed to Egyptian officials that they had been trained in the Gaza Strip and that they belonged to an organization called al-Tawhid wal-Jihad. An analysis published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs commented on this development that al-Qaeda-related groups in the Gaza Strip had become involved in military operations, the backdrop being repeated calls by al-Qaeda deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri to export military operations from the war in Iraq to other countries in the area.[2]

Fatwa allowing the killing of noncombatants

On 5 February 2011, the leader of a Gazan jihadist group calling itself Jama'at Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, Sheikh 'Ahed Ahmad 'Abd Al-Karim Al-Sa'idani, a.k.a. Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi, posted a fatwa stating that Jews and Christians may be targeted in lethal attacks such as those of 9/11 because they are "aggressive combatants" and "fundamentally not innocent". The fatwa also stated that it is not permissible to refrain from such attacks for fear of hurting Muslims, "because this would mean stopping the jihad".[3] On March 2, 2011 al-Maqdisi was arrested by Hamas. He was released in August 2012 but was killed in an Israeli airstrike two months later.[4]

Rocket attacks on Israel

In April 2011, according to the Ma'an News Agency, several new militant groups emerged in the Gaza Strip and for the first time claimed responsibility for some concurrent Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. One of these groups, identified as At-Tawhid and Al-Jihad – Beit Al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for firing a rocket at Nahal Oz.[5]

At the same time, SITE reported that the Gazan militant group Tawhid and Jihad Group in Jerusalem released a video on 10 April depicting a purported rocket attack on Nahal Oz. The video depicted masked gunmen setting up, and firing the rocket, and was released as part of a series accompanied by quotes from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi encouraging jihad, as well as a statement expressing the hope of "strengthening the determination and energizing the Mujahideen brothers to do their best in fighting of the enemies of Allah, the Jews."[6]

On 13 April, Ma'an reported that Gazan militant group Tawhid and Jihad claimed to have launched two missiles at Nirim, an Israeli kibbutz. The group said its claimed attack was "a response to Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip", without clarifying further. However, the Israel Defense Forces said they were not aware of a rocket attack taking place at that time.[7]

Kidnapping and murder of Vittorio Arrigoni

On 11 April 2011, a Gazan terrorist group named Tawhid wal-Jihad or Tawhid and Jihad (literally "monotheism and Jihad") announced that it had kidnapped Vittorio Arrigoni (age 36), an Italian peace activist, blogger and occasional freelance journalist, in the Gaza Strip. It threatened to execute him unless Hamas released its leader, Hesham al-Sa'eedni, by 5 pm the following day. Hamas, which is the elected majority party and governs the Gaza Strip, had imprisoned al-Sa'eedni the previous month.[8][9][10][11] Some Israel allies countries, like the European Union, the United States and others, designate Hamas itself as a terrorist group,[12] while nations such as China,[13] Russia,[14] Syria,[15] Turkey,[16] Norway[17] and Switzerland[18] do not.

Arrigoni was a pacifist supporter of the Palestinian cause,[19] a member of the Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement, and held a blog reporting from the Gaza Strip. He had been living in the territory since arriving on one of the first flotillas to Gaza in 2008.[8][9][10]

Tawhid wal-Jihad released a video to YouTube calling their captive "Victor, an Italian journalist" and demanding the release of global jihadists, including supporters of the group. Set to Arabic music, the footage showed Arrigoni blindfolded, with tied hands and blood around his right eye, held roughly by the hair. The captor was hidden with only his outstretched arm visible. Arabic text in the clip described Italy as "the infidel state" and said that "the Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption". The video was similar to others released by other extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan.[8][9][10]

Arrigoni was found dead well before the deadline. Hamas said it had stormed a house where they thought Arrigoni was being held, fought with the abductors, and then found his body, hanged.[9] Hamas condemned the killing and said it had made two arrests. The Los Angeles Times commented that[20]

[T]he kidnapping raised questions about Hamas' control over Gaza, and it represents the latest example of how smaller, more radical groups in the territory—some with alleged ties to Al Qaeda—are challenging the rule of Hamas, which itself is viewed by Israel and the United States as a terrorist organization. Those groups complain that Hamas has become too moderate.

See also


  1. ^ New Gaza Organization Vows Loyalty to Al-Qaeda, MEMRI 10-11-2008
  2. ^ The Growing al-Qaeda Presence in the Hamas-Controlled Gaza Strip, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs April–May 2007
  3. ^ Leader of Palestinian Salafi-Jihadi Group: It Is Permissible to Kill Jewish and Christian Civilians In Jihad, Since They Are 'Fundamentally Not Innocent', MEMRI 13-02-2011
  4. ^ "Israeli Airstrike Kills 2 Militants in Gaza". The New York Times. 14 October 2012.
  5. ^ New Palestinian military groups surface in Gaza, Ma'an News Agency 04-10-2011
  6. ^ Tawhid and Jihad Group Releases Video of Shelling Nahal Oz Settlement, SITE Monitoring Service 11-04-2011
  7. ^ Group claims launch of 2 missiles, Ma'an News Agency 13-04-2011
  8. ^ a b c Terrorist group in Gaza kidnaps Italian rights activist, Jerusalem Post 11-04-2011
  9. ^ a b c d Hamas Says It Found Body of Italian Activist, New York Times 14-04-2011
  10. ^ a b c Terrorist group in Gaza kidnaps Italian rights activist, Reuters (published in the Jerusalem Post) 14-04-2011
  11. ^ Vittorio Arrigoni: Kidnapped peace activist pictured on YouTube found dead in Gaza, Mail Online 15-04-2011
  12. ^ If HAMAS is a Terrorist Organization, What Does That Make Israel? Intifada: The Voice of Palestine. July 11, 2010
  13. ^ Washington, DC court allows victims case to go forward against the Bank of China Independent Media Review Analysis, October 27, 2010]
  14. ^ "How to Confront Russia's Anti-American Foreign Policy". Heritage Foundation.
  15. ^ "State Sponsor: Syria". Council on Foreign Relations.
  16. ^ "Gaza flotilla: Turkey threat to Israel ties over raid". BBC News.
  17. ^ "Norway turns down US request over Hamas representatives' visit". Peoples Daily China. April 25, 2006. Retrieved July 19, 2008.
  18. ^ "Nahost-Engagement des Bundes. Gefährliche Hilfe?" (in German). Curia Vista - Geschäftsdatenbank - Die Bundesversammlung - Das Schweizer Parlament. 2006-05-31. Retrieved 2011-03-18. Mit Ausnahme der Al Kaida [...] verbietet die Schweiz keine Organisationen oder Gruppierungen als solche. [Translation: ‘Except for Al Qaida [...], Switzerland does not forbid any organisations or groups as such.’]
  19. ^ Hooper, John. Vittorio Arrigoni: pacifist supporter of the Palestinian cause. The Guardian. 2011-04-15.
  20. ^ GAZA STRIP: Kidnapped Italian activist found dead; Hamas condemns rival radical group, Los Angeles Times 14-04-2011

External links