Ansar Jerusalem announces deaths of 3 fighters, including commander
In a statement released to jihadist forums on Dec. 1, Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) announced the deaths of three of its fighters. In the statement, translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, the Sinai-based jihadist group identified the three slain fighters as Ahmed Naseer al Qaram, Ismail Salmi al Hammadin, and Khalid Tayyab al Qadiri.
Although Ansar Jerusalem did not provide an exact location or date of death, press reports indicate that three militants were killed in clashes with Egyptian security forces on Nov. 30 near Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai, the SITE Intelligence Group noted.
Ansar Jerusalem described al Qaram as a "mujahid commander" who died battling "the enemies of the religion from among the Jews and the apostates." The other two militants, Al Hammadin and al Qadiri, were referred to as al Qaram's "mujahideen brothers."
According to the statement, al Qaram had participated in a number of Ansar Jerusalem operations, including the group's attacks against Israel in August 2011 and September 2012 as well as the group's bombings of gas pipelines in Egypt.
Ansar Jerusalem's statement concluded by claiming that the killing of its fighters "does not do anything to us except strengthen our toughness and determination in devotion to religion and staying on the right path, the path of jihad in the cause of Allah."
"[T]he blood of our leaders and our martyrs is the fuel for our battle and a light that illuminates our way," the statement said.
The statement from Ansar Jerusalem marks the third time the group has acknowledged deaths of jihadists in the Sinai since the overthrow of Mohammed Morsi on July 3. On Aug. 9, the group announced the deaths of four of its fighters who were preparing to fire rockets towards Israel were targeted and killed. On Aug. 10, Hussein Ibrahim Salem al Tihi, from the Tiyaaha tribe, and Yusri Muhaareb al Saraarkah, Ibrahim Khalaf al Munei'I, and Muhammad Hussein al Munei'i, all from the Sawaarkah tribe, were buried following an extensive funeral procession. Some of the slain jihadists were wrapped in al Qaeda flags, while vehicles in the procession had the black flags attached as well. More recently, on Sept. 10, the group acknowledged the death of Nasser Abu Juhayni, who was described as "one of the heroes of the jihadi groups in Sinai."
Ansar Jerusalem, which was founded by Egyptians, 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 two years, including an attack on Sept. 21, 2012.
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 a number of attacks against the Arish-Ashkelon natural gas pipeline as well as numerous rocket attacks against Israel.
On Oct. 15, 2012, the group threatened to attack Israel for the targeted killing 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. The two men were said to be leaders of the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem.
On Jan. 11, 2013, a video released by Ansar Jerusalem stated: "Here in Egypt, the fortress of the Ummah, the light of victory has begun to shine, and the light of dawn has appeared in the horizon. The Ummah has begun preparing for the moment to attack the occupying entity and get rid of its evil."
In March, the group issued a statement during President Obama's visit to Israel, which it called a "cancerous tumor." The jihadist group said that the visit's timing "has important implications" and accused "America and the Crusader West" of intervening in the so-called Arab Spring "to change the natural direction of these blessed revolutions, and prevent[ing] the Muslim peoples from achieving their true freedom and implementing their Islamic Shariah."
More recently, on Sept. 10, Ansar Jerusalem declared that "it is obligatory to repulse them [the Egyptian army] and fight them until the command of Allah is fulfilled." In the same statement, the group took credit for a number of attacks on Egyptian security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula. Similarly, on Sept. 15, the Salafi jihadist group declared: "We in Ansar Jerusalem and all the mujahideen in Sinai in Egypt as a whole stress that the blood of innocent Muslims will not go in vain." And on Sept. 28, Ansar Jerusalem released a video that included footage from some of its recent attacks on Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
Ansar Jerusalem has also conducted a few attacks outside of its normal base of operations in North Sinai in recent months. On Sept. 5, the jihadist group carried out an assassination attempt in Nasr City on Egypt's interior minister, Mohammed Ibrahim. A month later, an Ansar Jerusalem suicide bomber unleashed a blast at the South Sinai Security Directorate in el Tor, which killed three security personnel and injured more than 45. On Oct. 19, the Sinai-based jihadist group targeted a military intelligence building in the city of Ismailia. And on Nov. 19, the group claimed responsibility for the shooting attack on Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Mabrouk, a senior national security officer, in Cairo.