AQAP offers condolences for top Salafi leaders killed in Gaza
On Oct. 13, 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 were reportedly leaders of the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC), which is a consolidation of Salafi-Jihadist groups in Gaza.
Since their deaths, a number of statements and eulogies have been released by jihadist groups and media outlets such as the Global Islamic Media Front, Jaish al Ummah, Masada al Mujahideen, Islamic State of Iraq, and Ansar Jerusalem, among others.
On Oct. 24, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a statement on jihadist forums, titled "Statement of Condolences for the Killing of the Two Mujahid Sheikh Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi and Abu al-Bara'a al-Maqdisi." The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
"We ask Allah to heal our mujahideen brothers in Palestine for their loss and to reward them in plenty for the patience and perseverance on the path of jihad and redemption for the liberation of Palestine," the group said.
The short statement concluded by saying that the deaths of al Sabah and al Maqdisi "were only a completion of the journey of their blessed jihad against the Jews."
Abu al Walid al Maqdisi
Al Maqdisi was a longtime jihadist who fought alongside al Qaeda in Iraq in the early days of the Iraq war in 2003 before returning to Gaza and establishing the Tawhid and Jihad Group. However, a biography released by the group claimed that al Maqdisi was arrested by Egyptian security forces while trying to travel to Iraq.
In early August this year, Al Maqdisi was freed by Hamas after being detained by Hamas security forces for 17 months. Masada al Mujahideen, another jihadist group in Gaza, released a statement at the time praising the release of al Maqdisi and claiming that he had been arrested "for nothing other than promoting virtue, prohibiting vice, and explaining the Sharia-based rulings [Islamic law] in issues about which Hamas doesn't like to speak publicly or even believe in."
Ashraf al Sabah
Ashraf al Sabah was the former emir of Ansar al Sunnah, one of a number of Salafi-Jihadist groups operating in the Gaza Strip. Prior to founding Ansar al Sunnah, al Sabah was a member of Hamas.
The decision to create Ansar al Sunnah reportedly occurred when al Sabah had concluded that Hamas had "deviated from the path [of jihad]," according to a statement released by Ansar Jerusalem. Al Sabah was said to be "a target for Hamas security just as he was a target for the Jews."
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. The group has taken responsibility for a number of rocket attacks against Israel as well as the Jun. 18, 2012 attack that killed one Israeli civilian.
In July, it released a 38-minute-long video in which it said that the June attack was "a gift to our brothers in Qaedat al Jihad and Sheikh Zawahiri" and retaliation for the death of Osama bin Laden. On Oct. 22, 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."
The Israeli Defense Forces has recently increased its targeting of MSC members. On Oct. 7, 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, 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 were said to be leaders of the MSC.