Ansar Jerusalem threatens to attack Israel for killing top Salafi leaders in Gaza
Ansar Jerusalem, also known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, is the latest Salafi-Jihadist group to release a statement in response to the assassinations of 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. Other statements and eulogies have been released by jihadist groups and media outlets such as the Global Islamic Media Front, Masada al Mujahideen, and Jaish al Ummah, among others.
Ansar Jerusalem released its latest statement, titled "A Statement of Condolences for the Martyrdom of the Two Sheikhs Hisham al-Su'aydani (Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi) and Ashraf Sabah (Abu al-Bara'a al-Maqdisi)," on jihadist forums on Oct. 15. The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
"We condole the people of the two martyrs, as we think of them, and their brothers and all the people of Palestine and all Muslims, for the loss of those two mujahideen heroes who presented with their biographies and jihad the good example and role model for the Muslim youth," the group said.
According to the statement, Ashraf al Sabah was a member of Hamas before founding Ansar al Sunnah. The decision to create Ansar al Sunnah reportedly occurred when al Sabah had concluded that Hamas had "deviated from the path [of jihad]." The statement alleges that al Sabah then "became a target for Hamas security just as he was a target for the Jews."
Ansar Jerusalem's statement ended with a warning that "we in Ansar Jerusalem say to the Jews that the blood of our brothers in Palestine is our blood and their revenge is ours, and the blood of Abu al-Walid and Abu al-Bara'a will not go in vain without repayment. It is retaliation and just punishment against your blood and security, so wait for our response and the pain of our revenge."
Egyptian and Israeli authorities have raised the alert level in and around the Sinai since the deaths of al Maqdisi and al Sabah. Meanwhile, Israel is reportedly preparing "to deploy a new detection and alert system along the new Israel-Egypt border fence," according to Ynet News. It is unclear when this will be completed.
Ansar Jerusalem is thought to be behind most of the recent attacks originating from the Sinai, according to Israeli intelligence. The group, which is said to recruit within Egypt and abroad, has claimed credit for a number of attacks against Israel over the past year, including the attack on Sept. 21. The deadliest attack was the Aug. 18, 2011 assault on a bus traveling near the border with Egypt in Eilat, which resulted in the deaths of eight Israelis and at least seven terrorists. Three Egyptian security personnel were also accidentally killed in the crossfire.
In addition, Ansar Jerusalem has taken credit for numerous rocket and mortar attacks against the Arish-Ashkelon natural gas pipeline as well as at least one rocket attack against Eilat.
On Aug. 31, 2012, Ansar Jerusalem released a statement that eulogized Ibrahim Oweida Nasser Bereikat, who was involved in the Eilat assault. Ansar Jerusalem claimed he was killed on Aug. 26 by Israel's Mossad, with the aid of Egyptian "spies," according to a translation of the statement by the SITE Intelligence Group.