Banner from Ansar Jerusalem. Image SITE Intelligence Group.
A jihadist group known as Ansar Jerusalem claimed credit for last week’s attack that killed an Israeli soldier in the Sinai. The terror group said the attack was carried out in response to a trailer for a film that depicts the life of the Prophet Mohammed in a negative light.
Ansar Jerusalem released the statement, titled “Invasion of Punishment for those who Dared Against the Beloved Prophet,” on jihadist forums on Sept. 22. The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The statement was released just one day after a small team of terrorists attacked Israeli soldiers who were providing security to construction crews building a fence in the Har Harif area on the border with the Egyptian Sinai. An Israeli soldier was killed and another was wounded after the terrorists opened fire. Israeli troops killed three terrorists while returning fire; at least one was wearing a suicide vest.
In the statement, Ansar Jerusalem said that it “determined to discipline the Jews for their heinous acts” of being involved in the poorly produced film.
The group said that three Egyptians trained for the operation, and were “armed with their personal Kalashnikovs, PKs, RPGs and hand grenades, and wearing their explosive belts.” Ansar Jerusalem claimed that eight Israelis were killed during the operation.
Ansar Jerusalem has claimed credit for several attacks against Israel in the past, including the Aug. 18, 2011 assault on a bus traveling near the border with Egypt in Eilat. Eight Israelis were killed in the attacks, and at least seven terrorists were killed in the counterstrike. Three Egyptian security personnel were also accidentally killed in the crossfire.
On Aug. 31, 2012, Ansar Jerusalem released a statement that eulogized Ibrahim Oweida Nasser Bereikat, one of the fighters 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. The terror group also claimed it captured and beheaded Meneizel Muhammad Suleiman Salamah, who organized the Mossad spy network in the Sinai, and is seeking to kill two other spies, identified as Salamah Muhammad Salamah al Oweidah and Suleiman Salamah Hamdan.
In addition, Ansar Jerusalem has claimed credit for numerous rocket and mortar attacks against the Arish-Ashkelon natural gas pipeline as well as a rocket attack against Eilat.
Ansar Jerusalem is among several jihadist groups that have emerged since the so-called Arab Spring began in December 2010. The other groups include al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula and its military arm, Ansar al Jihad; the Mujahideen Shura Council; and Jund al Sharia. The terror groups have conducted attacks against Israel, UN peacekeepers in the Sinai, Egyptian forces, and a pipeline transporting natural gas to Israel.
For more information on al Qaeda-linked jihadist groups operating in the Egyptian Sinai, see LWJ reports, Mujahideen Shura Council calls attack in Israel a ‘gift’ to Zawahiri and al Qaeda ‘brothers’ and Ansar al Jihad swears allegiance to al Qaeda’s emir, and Threat Matrix report, New jihadist group emerges in the Egyptian Sinai.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.