Banner of the Gaza-based Army of Islam.
Today, the US State Department designated Mumtaz Dughmush as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Dughmush is the leader of the Gaza-based Army of Islam, or the Tawhid and Jihad Brigades. From the State Department designation:
The Army of Islam is a Gaza Strip-based terrorist organization founded in late 2005 and is responsible for numerous terrorist acts against the Governments of Israel and Egypt. Under Dughmush’s guidance, the Army of Islam has launched rocket attacks against Israel from Palestinian territories, kidnapped two Fox News journalists — one American and one British. The group is also responsible for early 2009 attacks on Egyptian civilians in Cairo and Heliopolis, which resulted in casualties and deaths.
A splinter group of Hamas, the Army of Islam is ideologically aligned with al Qaeda.
The Army of Islam was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization in May 2011. From the LWJ report on the designation, which includes more details on the Army of Islam’s growing affinity to al Qaeda:
The Army of Islam “subscribes to a Salafist ideology of global jihad together with the traditional model of armed Palestinian resistance,” State said in a press release on the designation. The terror group “has previously worked with Hamas and is attempting to develop closer al Qaeda contacts.”
The group has released propaganda that has expressed its affiliation and support for al Qaeda. On May 7, 2011, just five days after the death of Osama bin Laden, the Army of Islam released a statement eulogizing the al Qaeda leader. Also, in August 2008, Sheikh Abu Harith al Ansari, an Army of Islam leader, released a statement on jihadist forums that claimed bin Laden would seek to focus his attacks on “the Jews.”
For more information on the Army of Islam, including additional attacks and kidnappings, and other Salafist groups based in Gaza, see LWJ report, US designates Palestinian Salafist group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.