LONG WAR JOURNAL\DAVID BARNETT
In a new statement, Gaza-based Jaish al Ummah (Army of the Nation) offered its condolences for the death of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the former emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Hakeemullah was killed by the US in a drone strike in North Waziristan on Nov. 1.
In its statement, which was posted on the al Raya Media Foundation’s Facebook page today, Jaish al Ummah said it received the news of Hakeemullah’s death “with great sadness.” Like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Jaish al Ummah praised Hakeemullah and “the tribes of Waziristan” for fighting the “crusader enemy” in Afghanistan.
On Nov. 9, the Pakistani Taliban threatened to avenge the death of Hakeemullah Mehsud, in a statement released by its official media outlet, Umar Media.
Jaish al Ummah
Jaish al Ummah is one of a number of Salafi jihadist groups operating in the Gaza Strip. The group has warned about the creeping influence of Iran in the coastal enclave, in particular through Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In addition, the group has claimed responsibility for numerous rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and was praised by a leading Salafi jihadist official for its actions during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.
Following the deaths of Abu al Walid al Maqdisi and Ashraf al Sabah, two leaders of the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC), on Oct. 13, 2012, Jaish al Ummah released a statement in support of the MSC. Similarly, following the death of Hithem Ziad Ibrahim Masshal, a well-known jihadist in the Gaza Strip, in late April 2013, the jihadist group issued a statement praising Masshal.
Over the past year, the Salafi jihadist group has issued a couple of statements related to the situation in Syria. On Jan. 20, 2013, an audio speech from Abu Abdullah al Ghazi, an official in Jaish al Ummah, was released to jihadist forums. In the speech, which was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, al Ghazi said the Levant should be seen as an open “market of jihad.” He called on fighters to “[t]ake the initiative and rise to establish the Islamic State in the Levant and reestablish the rule of Allah over His land after you pluck out that criminal tyrant [Assad] and retaliate for the blood that was spelt and the honors that were violated.”
Nine days earlier, Jaish al Ummah had released a video to jihadist forums. In the video, which was dedicated to fighters in Syria, the group showed “how to manufacture a 107mm rocket,” according to SITE. The video also “provided recommendations about substitute materials and quantities depending on the size of the rocket.”
Jaish al Ummah has also expressed for support for Sunni Muslims living in Ahvaz, Iran. In a video released in January, an unidentified speaker denounced Shiites as “a poisonous dagger in the side of this Ummah,” and called on Muslims to provide greater support to Sunnis living in Ahvaz. “Rise now, in a firm aware revolution against the [Shi’ites] and their plots. Lie in wait for them everywhere and face your [Shi’ite] enemies and foil their plots, because, by Allah, if they dominate you, it will be an affliction on earth and a lot of corruption,” the speaker said. The video concluded with the speaker urging “all the mujahideen all over Earth to target Iranian interests everywhere.”
Jaish al Ummah has also issued statements in support of jihadists in Mali. “[W]e will support and be loyal and aid our mujahideen monotheist brothers in Mali without limits,” the Salafi jihadist group said in a statement released to jihadist forums on Jan. 20, 2013. The statement urged Muslims to “attack all the French and Western interests in their countries, and target what they can of their citizens and men.”
More recently, Abu Hafs al Maqdisi, the leader of Jaish al Ummah, called on Egyptians to wage “jihad” against Egyptian army commander General Abdul Fattah el Sisi. Al Maqdisi, who was released from a Hamas prison in December, also called on Egyptians to overthrow “the tyrant” (el Sisi) and establish an Islamic state.