On Jan. 11, Ansar Jerusalem, also known as Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, released a 52-minute video, detailing the group’s attack from the Sinai into Israel on Sept. 21 that killed one Israeli soldier. As in its original statement claiming responsibility for the attack, Ansar Jerusalem says that the attack was carried out in response to the controversial “Innocence of Muslims” film and the alleged Jewish involvement.
The video was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. On Jan. 5, Ansar Jerusalem released a 52-second preview video, according to SITE.
With regard to the cross-border attack, the narrator of the video alleges that Israel “attempted to cover up the extent of what happened to them out of fear that the truth will be exposed, and that was in collusion with the Arab and global media, in an attempt to veil the truth and maim it.” According to an unidentified member of the group, they intended to attack an IDF patrol of two jeeps, and “annihilate the patrol.” In addition, they sought to “take a dead body and throw it over [a] cliff … in order to spread to the Jews that a kidnapping operation was carried out.” Following this, the group planned to wait in ambush for IDF reinforcements.
In a later part of the video, the narrator exclaims that “[t]he operation was carried out as planned.” He goes on to say that “[t]he wish of our heroes came true by attaining this great honor, and they are not equal, for our dead are in Paradise and theirs are in the hellfire.” The narrator also reiterates claims made in Ansar Jerusalem’s original statement that eight IDF soldiers had been killed in the attack.
A good portion of the video is focused on the three members of the group involved in the attack — Baha Zaqzuq, Ahmed Waji, and ‘Awf. Egyptian media outlets had previously noted that Zaqzuq and Waji were educated middle class Egyptians from the Nile Delta, and not Bedouins from the Sinai. The narrator appears to reference these facts when he says that “[t]hey left their towns and homes in which they grew up, and departed their loved ones, families and children, and the jewels of their eyes.”
According to Waji, he was originally a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but became upset with the group when it gained power but did not implement its slogan, “Allah is our goal, the Qur’an is our constitution, jihad is our way, and death in the Cause of Allah is the most sublime of our hopes.”
In the video, the three men are seen training as well as giving speeches encouraging jihad by Muslims, in particular those in the Sinai. “O youth of Islam: If you want to support your Prophet … and your religion, then commit to your first path and return to your religion and to the path of jihad in the Cause of Allah,” Zaqzuq says. He later tells the “mujahideen in [the] Sinai,” to “stand firm and be patient, perseverant and patient, and lie in wait for the Jews.”
With regard to Egypt’s relationship with Israel, Ansar Jerusalem believes that it is favorable to Israel, and must be stopped. The group makes a number of references to its targeting of a gas pipeline, which used to provide Israel with gas.
“This theft, which delivered our resources to our enemy [Israel], is a major act of treason, even if it was sold for many times its price,” the narrator says. According to the narrator, “The mujahideen don’t see a solution to confront Israel but with preparation and jihad.”
In addition to providing details about the September attack, the video also provides information related to the formation of Ansar Jerusalem. A group of Egyptians “prepared themselves and formed the group Ansar Jerusalem, to preserve the necessities of the Ummah and protect its religion and support its sons and retrieve its wealth and preserve its honor, and this is without slipping into political games and their traps,” the narrator explains. He explains further that “[t]his preparation started years ago, when the group targeted the gas-looting pipelines 14 times, and stormed the border of the Jews in several operations, and struck them with a number of missiles….”
Near the end of the video, the narrator declares: “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.”
Ansar Jerusalem 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 year, including the attack on Sept. 21. 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 a number of rocket attacks against Israel.
On Oct. 15, 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 were said to be leaders of the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem.
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Another overlooked aspect of the escalating violence in the Sinai is that individuals & groups are exfiltrating from the Gaza strip & possibly from the West Bank into the Sinai & linking up with the burgeoning insurgent force. Another likely byproduct of this increased focus by the insurgents on the Sinai will be an increase in smuggling & security related issues by Jordan & Saudi Arabia concerning the Gulf of Aqaba
Interesting, to say the least about this new information. It’s probably safe to assume Ansar Jerusalem has ties to either al-Qaeda, themselves, or an affiliated group in the region. It will also be interesting about what’s next for extremists in the Sinai.
“The light of victory has begun to shine” More likely a laser range finder is on your turban.