On Nov. 24, the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) released a statement to jihadist forums, titled “Ruminations After the Latest Assault.” The statement, which addresses Operation Pillar of Defense, was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
In the statement, MSC alleged that Israel “shed blood and killed innocents and brought down their homes over the heads of their inhabitants, with the excuse of seeking to end the nightmare of the continuous rocket attacks upon their occupied cities by the brave mujahideen in the Gaza Strip.” At the same time, the statement claimed that “[t]he lions leapt and fought them with rockets until they repulsed them.”
The Salafi jihadist group laid some of the blame for the start of the conflict on Egypt. “[T]his war came after the Egypt army had paved the way for it through its incursion into Sinai with the approval of the Jews to pursue and kill the mujahideen there, so that the Jews would be secure in their front from Sinai, and prepare to strike the Strip,” the group said.
According to the MSC statement, the “traitorous” Arab League, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wanted to institute a ceasefire not to bring quiet to the region, but rather “to transform the military defeat of the Jews into political and strategic gains.”
Although a ceasefire is currently in place, the MSC appeared to indicate that it is not a party to it. “[W]e truly are not a party to the signing of this truce between the Palestinian factions and the Jews,” the statement said. The MSC also slammed the idea of negotiations with Israel, saying that “what the Muslims gain from jihad in these days is many times greater what they gain through years of political tampering and protests and meetings with delegations and negotiations.”
In addition to distancing itself from the current ceasefire, the group said that “[t]he recent aggression demonstrated the weakness of the Jews, and that their mutant state is weaker than a spider’s web.”
With regard to reported tension with Hamas, the group called on Hamas, the ruling party in the Gaza Strip, to stop pursuing Salafi jihadists in Gaza.
The MSC also commented on the recent terror attack in Tel Aviv, describing it as a “blessed operation.” “We urge them [the mujahideen] to continue and be patient and steadfast in the face of the Jews and their allies, and to make our occupied Bank a fire upon the enemies of Allah, and to reopen the door of jihadist operations fully, for it is a painful and effective medicine,” the group said.
On Nov. 21, Abdullah Jihad al Ashqar (Abu al Muhtasib al Maqdisi), a media official for Tawhid and Jihad Group in Jerusalem, one of the groups that make up the MSC, praised the Salafi jihadist groups operating in the Gaza Strip and Sinai for their recent efforts fighting Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense. In addition to praising the various Salafi jihadist groups, al Ashqar argued that there was no alternative to fighting Israel. He also called for unity among the various groups operating in the Gaza Strip.
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. Sheikh Anas Abdul Rahman, one of the group’s leaders, has said that the group aims to “fight the Jews for the return of Islam’s rule, not only in Palestine, but throughout the world.”
The MSC has taken responsibility for a number of rocket attacks against Israel as well as the June 18, 2012 attack that killed one Israeli civilian. In November 2012, the group carried out joint rocket attacks with the Army of Islam.
In July, the MSC 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 Israel Defense Forces has recently increased its targeting of MSC members. On Oct. 7, the IDF killed Tala’at Halil Muhammad Jarbi, a “global jihad operative,” and Abdullah Muhammad Hassan Maqawai, a member of the MSC. Maqawai was likely a former member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 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 men were said to be leaders of the MSC.
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