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