Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem
The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) is a consolidation of a number of Salafi-Jihadist groups operating in the Gaza Strip including, but not limited to: Tawhid and Jihad Group in Jerusalem, and Ansar al Sunnah. Sheikh Anas Abdul Rahman, one of the group’s leaders, has said that the group aims to “fight the Jews for the return of Islam’s rule, not only in Palestine, but throughout the world.” The MSC has taken responsibility for a number of rocket attacks against Israel as well as the June 18, 2012 attack that killed one Israeli civilian. In November 2012, the group carried out joint rocket attacks with the Army of Islam. Following the institution of a ceasefire that ended Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense, the MSC said that they were not truly a party to the ceasefire. In July, the MSC released a 38-minute-long video in which it said that the June attack was “a gift to our brothers in Qaedat al Jihad and Sheikh Zawahiri” and retaliation for the death of Osama bin Laden. On Oct. 22, the MSC released a 32-minute-long video detailing some of its rocket attacks against Israel and threatening to “fight you [Israel] as long as we hold…weapons in our hands.” The Israel Defense Forces has recently increased its targeting of MSC members. On Oct. 7, the IDF killed Tala’at Halil Muhammad Jarbi, a “global jihad operative,” and Abdullah Muhammad Hassan Maqawai, a member of the MSC. Maqawai was likely a former member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. On Oct. 13, Israel killed Abu al Walid al Maqdisi, the former emir of the Tawhid and Jihad Group in Jerusalem, and Ashraf al Sabah, the former emir of Ansar al Sunnah, in an airstrike. The two men were said to be leaders of the MSC.
Abu al Walid al Maids
Al Maqdisi was a longtime jihadist who fought alongside al Qaeda in Iraq in the early days of the Iraq war in 2003 before returning to Gaza and establishing the Tawhid and Jihad Group. However, a biography released by the group claimed that al Maqdisi was arrested by Egyptian security forces while trying to travel to Iraq. In early August this year, Al Maqdisi was freed by Hamas after being detained by Hamas security forces for 17 months. Masada al Mujahideen, another jihadist group in Gaza, released a statement at the time praising the release of al Maqdisi and claiming that he had been arrested “for nothing other than promoting virtue, prohibiting vice, and explaining the Sharia-based rulings [Islamic law] in issues about which Hamas doesn’t like to speak publicly or even believe in.”
Ashraf al Sabah
Ashraf al Sabah was the former emir of Ansar al Sunnah, one of a number of Salafi-Jihadist groups operating in the Gaza Strip. Prior to founding Ansar al Sunnah, al Sabah was a member of Hamas. The decision to create Ansar al Sunnah reportedly occurred when al Sabah had concluded that Hamas had “deviated from the path [of jihad],” according to a statement released by Ansar Jerusalem. Al Sabah was said to be “a target for Hamas security just as he was a target for the Jews.”