Israel kills leader of al Qaeda-linked Army of Islam in Gaza airstrike


Abu-Daf.jpg

Muaman Abu Daf, the leader of the Army of Islam, was killed in an Israeli air strike. Reuters photo.

The Israeli Air Force killed an emir of the al Qaeda-linked Jaish al Islam, or Army of Islam, in an airstrike in northern Gaza. The airstrike is the latest by Israel that has targeted al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli fighter-bombers killed Muaman Abu Daf, a leader of the Army of Islam, in a strike in the Zeitoun district in Gaza City today. Hamas, the terror group which runs Gaza, confirmed that Abu Daf was killed in the attack. Five other Palestinians were wounded. Members of the Army of Islam wrapped Abu Daf's body in the flag flown by al Qaeda in Iraq, Shabaab, and other al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East.

The Israeli Defense Forces confirmed the strike and said the Air Force "targeted a terrorist squad that was identified moments before firing rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip."

"A hit was confirmed, thwarting the rocket fire attempt," the IDF said in a statement released on its website. "The aforementioned squad is responsible for the firing of rockets at Israel in the past number of days."

Today's strike that killed Abu Daf is the third by the Israeli Air Force against what the IDF refers to as "Global Jihad-affiliated terrorists," or Gaza-based groups linked to al Qaeda. On Dec. 27, the Israeli Air Force killed Abdallah Telbani, who was involved in a plot to attack Israel from the Egyptian Sinai as well as with rocket and IED attacks along the Israeli-Gaza border.

And on Dec. 28, the Israeli Air Force killed Rami Daoud Jabar Khafarna and Hazam Mahmad Sa'adi Al Shakr, two former Hamas members who were involved with "Global Jihad-affiliated terrorist" networks in Gaza. Khafarna and Shakr were members of a "squad" that "was previously known to the IDF due to its attempt in carrying out a terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border."

There are four main Salafist groups that operate in the Gaza Strip. All four groups have expressed their support for al Qaeda. Those groups are the Jaish al Islam, Jund Ansar Allah, Jaish al Ummah, and Jaish al Mu'minun. These groups have clashed with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated terror group that rules Gaza and is supported by Iran and Syria. [See LWJ report, Israel kills 'Global Jihad affiliated-terrorists' in Gaza airstrikes, for summaries of the four terror groups.]

Army-of-Islam.jpg

Banner of the Gaza-based Army of Islam.

Background on the Army of Islam

The Army of Islam "subscribes to a Salafist ideology of global jihad together with the traditional model of armed Palestinian resistance," the US State Department said in a May 2011 press release that announced the group's designation as a terrorist entity. The terror group "has previously worked with Hamas and is attempting to develop closer al Qaeda contacts."

Mumtaz Dughmush is the leader of the Army of Islam. He was listed by the US State Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in August 2011.

The group has released propaganda that has expressed its affiliation and support for al Qaeda. On May 7, 2011, just five days after the death of Osama bin Laden, the Army of Islam released a statement eulogizing the al Qaeda leader. Also, in August 2008, Sheikh Abu Harith al Ansari, an Army of Islam leader, released a statement on jihadist forums that claimed bin Laden would seek to focus his attacks on "the Jews."

In addition to launching mortar and rocket attacks into Israel, the Army of Islam "has been responsible for numerous terrorist acts against the Governments of Israel and Egypt, as well as American, British and New Zealander citizens," the US State Department said. "The group is also responsible for early 2009 attacks on Egyptian civilians in Cairo and Heliopolis, which resulted in casualties and deaths." The Egyptian government accused the Army of Islam of executing the Jan. 1, 2011 bombing at a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 people.

The terror group became known in 2006 after it captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and then turned him over to Hamas. Also in 2006, the Army of Islam kidnapped two Fox News journalists.

In 2007, a cell from the Army of Islam, led by Khattab al Maqdasi, kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston. Maqdasi is said to have fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. The group demanded Abu Qatada's release in exchange for Johnston.

Sources:

IAF thwarts attempted Gaza rocket fire, Israeli Defense Forces
IAF strikes rocket launching squad in Gaza, The Jerusalem Post
Israel kills al Qaeda-linked chief in Gaza strike, Reuters



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READER COMMENTS: "Israel kills leader of al Qaeda-linked Army of Islam in Gaza airstrike"

Posted by Daniel at December 30, 2011 12:52 PM ET:

It's a bingo.

Posted by gerry at December 30, 2011 9:28 PM ET:

I read some where recently that we should stop killing all the terrorist leaders as the ones who replace them are more incompetant and it leads to more innocents being killed.

I am at loss for words to describe the stupidity of the statement, and yet, I'm sure there will be a following in the rational.

Posted by Jeff Edelman at December 30, 2011 9:43 PM ET:

Appears the Jews have infiltrated them.

Posted by Duncan at December 31, 2011 11:46 AM ET:

Hello,

Great article first of all. it is obvious that terrorism is not going to stop anytime soon. A society is responsible to establish norms that do not inhibit the growth of any people, no matter what religion, skin color, race, and more.

Jihadists essentially will to kill women and children, and any country that is hiding them, or helping them; is a traitor.

Cutting off the head of the snake is working to some degree. Killing top leaders, leaves the groups weak, as those leaders are not as savvy.

Second, it requires the terrorists to regroup, and take the time to appoint new leaders, in many cases causing squabbles within those sects, which is good. The more confused, disorganized, and fighting amongst themselves the greater the advantage.

Third, because they are seeking each other out from country to country indicates we have slowly deminished their effectiveness altogether.

Posted by israel news historian at December 31, 2011 3:16 PM ET:

Let us learn from the situation in Gaza what it means to give Israeli land to the enemy.

Posted by Devin Leonard at January 1, 2012 4:32 PM ET:

More good hits for our buddies the Israelis:)

Posted by Don Vandervelde at January 2, 2012 12:41 AM ET:

This is blood-soaked war declared by the muslim world upon the civilized world. When they say 'death to America' we should take them at their word, and respond in kind, with swift, brutal, efficiency. We should slaughter them with about half the abandon they do toward us. Civilized rules must be set aside when dealing with savage declared mass-murderers. Survival of nonmuslim innocents is at stake. Our religious compatriots and our own descendents desperately need our defense and help now. Japs and Germans, both military and civilian, paid a high price for attacking and declaring war on us. So should the muslims. This, unfortunately, is the only road to peace.

Posted by davidp at January 2, 2012 7:29 PM ET:

Good work by the anti missile launching observers and airstrike teams. 1 dead, 5 wounded, from a launch team. A pity it wasnt 6 dead.


Kidnapping Alan Johnston was a notable incident involving Army of Islam but was not a big achievement since "it was Johnston's job to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament in the Gaza Strip" and "Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Information Minister, has described Johnston as a 'friend of our people' " (quotes from Wikipedia, but matching what I learnt at the time). Johnston was a fried of Palestinian terrorists. Indeed the kidnapping drove him out of Gaza and reduced the amount of BBC produced propaganda.


Overall "Army of Islam" seems a loose cannon, doing their own terror things.