Islamic State of Iraq offers condolences for top Salafi leaders 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, and Ansar Jerusalem, among others.
On Oct. 22, the Islamic State of Iraq released a statement on jihadist forums, titled "Statement of Condolences for the Killing of the Two Sheikhs of Maqdis, Abu al-Walid Hisham al-Su'aydani and Abu al-Bara'a Ashraf Sabah, may Allah have Mercy on Them Both." The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The group offered its condolences and called "upon Him to help our mujahideen brothers in the blessed land with their afflictions, and to compensate them better for their loss, and to make the blood of the two sincere sheikhs a reason in the growth of the call and steadfastness on this deep, strong methodology in the time of estrangement and ignorance, and the fools and lowly being in the forefront."
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."