On Jan. 18, the Gaza-based Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) released the third episode in a series entitled “Journey of Martyrdom.” The approximately 24-minute video focuses on Saudi national Adi Saleh Abdullah al Fudhayli al Hadhli (a.k.a. Abu Hudhayfa al Hudhali), who was a member of the MSC cell responsible for carrying out a cross-border attack that killed an Israeli civilian on June 18, 2012.
The first episode in the series was released in early February 2013 and focused on MSC fighter Khalid Salah Abdul Hadi Jadullah (a.k.a. Abu Salah al Masri). Jadullah, who was portrayed as an al Qaeda martyr, was also a member of the MSC cell responsible for the June 18, 2012 attack. The series’ second episode focused on Hithem Ziad Ibrahim Masshal, a well-known jihadist in the Gaza Strip who was killed in an airstrike by the Israeli Air Force on April 30.
The new video traces Hadhli’s “jihadi biography from Saudi Arabia to Sudan and then Egypt, Gaza, and Libya, fighting in the revolution against Mu’ammar Gaddafi before returning to Egypt,” noted the SITE Intelligence Group, which translated the video. According to the biography, Hadhli was born in 1990 and resided in Jeddah. While in high school, Hadhli decided that he “wanted to support his religion and protect the sanctities of his wounded Ummah,” a narrator stated.
Before even turning 17, Hadhli traveled to Sudan “in an attempt to reach the mujahideen of Somalia and participate in their jihad.” This attempt failed, as he was detained and sent back to Saudi Arabia, the narrator claimed. However, in the middle of 2008, Hadhli decided to go to Egypt in the hopes of fulfilling “his dream of doing jihad on the soil of occupied Palestine.” According to the narrator, Hadhli managed to enter the Gaza Strip “after several attempts with dangers, difficulties, and tribulations from all sides.”
Upon reaching Gaza, Hadhli engaged in “training” and “preparation,” and was forced to stop communicating with his family, who were purportedly interrogated by authorities in Saudi Arabia in an effort to determine his whereabouts. According to the narrator, upon the outbreak of the Libyan civil war in 2011, Hadhli traveled to the North African state.
“There, he joined his brothers in the brigade of the lovers of martyrdom and he was known among them with the name Abdul Rahman al Saudi,” the narrator said. In Libya, Hadhli reportedly used his experience to teach other “mujahideen” how to use weapons. After Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown, Hadhli decided to leave Libya in order “to join a new jihadi field so he can have a chance in it to smell the fragrance of martyrdom in the cause of Allah.”
Hadhli supposedly was thinking of traveling to Yemen, but unidentified circumstances kept him in Egypt. Eventually, he returned to Gaza where he stayed with the MSC. While in Gaza, Hadhli “was insistent upon his brothers in requesting a martyrdom-seeking operation,” according to the narrator.
Near the end of the new video, a clip from Hadhli’s will is aired. “There is no solution except by jihad, and nothing can break iron except iron,” he declares. He further called on the “mujahideen” to be rewarded and for Muslim businessmen to “support the mujahideen with money, because it is the nerve of jihad. Jihad is in a dire need for your monies.”
The MSC video concluded with a short clip from Nasir al Wuhayshi, the emir of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Qaeda’s general manager.
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. The group said the attack was “a gift to our brothers in Qaedat al Jihad and Sheikh Zawahiri” and retaliation for the death of Osama bin Laden. In early February 2013, the MSC released a martyrdom video branding one of the terrorists killed in the June 2012 attack as an al Qaeda “martyr.”
On Oct. 22, 2012, 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.” 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 it was not truly a party to the ceasefire.
Although the MSC’s media unit, the Ibn Taymiyyah Media Center, has called for attacks against Egyptian security forces and released three videos denouncing the destruction caused by Egyptian operations in the Sinai, the MSC has not yet claimed responsibility for any attacks in Egypt. In fact, it explicitly denied any connection to the Aug. 5, 2012 attack on an Egyptian military outpost in Rafah that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. In late August 2013, the ITMC released a series of posters in Hebrew and Arabic threatening attacks against the southern Israeli city of Eilat.
The release of the posters came about two weeks after the MSC claimed responsibility for the Aug. 13 rocket attack on Eilat. That attack, the Salafi jihadist group said, was in response to the Aug. 9 killing of four members of the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis).
Over the past two years, the Israeli Air Force has targeted a number of MSC members. On Oct. 7, 2012, the IDF targeted Tala’at Halil Muhammad Jarbi, a “global jihad operative,” and Abdullah Muhammad Hassan Maqawai, a member of the MSC. Maqawai, likely a former member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, died of his wounds. On Oct. 13, 2012, 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. Numerous jihadist groups and media units as well as al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri issued statements following the death of the two jihadists.
More recently, in April 2013, the IAF targeted and killed Hithem Ziad Ibrahim Masshal, a well-known jihadist in the Gaza Strip, who was said to be a member of the MSC. On May 7, Masshal was eulogized by a senior member of the MSC who claimed that he never visited Masshal “without finding his room full with materials for manufacturing and preparing rockets, and the materials of jihad.” On Aug. 7, 2013, the MSC released a video to jihadist forums praising Masshal for having “always rolled up his sleeves and used up his time in training the mujahideen to fight and shoot in the Cause of Allah.”
Since its formation, the group has released a couple of eulogies for slain al Qaeda leaders. For example, in September 2012 the group released a eulogy to jihadist forums for Abu Yahya al Libi, a longtime al Qaeda leader from Libya, who was killed in a US drone strike in Mir Ali in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan on June 4, 2012. More recently, in mid-July last year, the group released a statement of condolence to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) after it confirmed the death of its deputy leader, Said al Shihri (a.k.a. Abu Sufyan al-Azdi).