Ansar Jerusalem denies death of shady figure, mocks Egyptian officials


As we recently noted, Egyptian security officials claim to have killed Shadi el Menai, a purported leader in Ansar Jerusalem. We explained that el Menai’s death had not been confirmed, and his role in the Sinai-based, al Qaeda-linked group was not even clear.

Well, Ansar Jerusalem has now issued a statement mocking the Egyptian government’s claims. The group’s statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Ansar Jerusalem says that the Egyptian government previously claimed that a “mujahid leader” known as Abu Abdullah had been killed, but counters that “his death was not announced until we announced it.” Moreover, the group asserts, Abu Abdullah “never for a day was the emir of” Ansar Jerusalem despite security officials’ claims.

“And here they are, declaring the killing of the mujahid brother Shadi el Menai and that he is the emir of the group, but he was not killed and he was not the emir of the group,” Ansar Jerusalem says, according to SITE’s translation. A picture [above] purportedly showing el Menai reading a statement announcing his death accompanies the message.

Ansar Jerusalem’s statement continues: “We announce in this regard that the emir of the group and its leaders are enjoying security and health and that they are very well among their mujahideen brothers, standing for the command of Allah, and garrisoned on the frontlines until Allah refers between them and their enemies.”

Part of Ansar Jerusalem’s message is addressed to the “sons and sheikhs of the tribes” in the Sinai. “Know that there is no enmity between us and you, for you are our people and our tribe.” The al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization says it targets only “those who work with this apostate army and target our homes and our honor,” and warns the tribes “not to be dragged in this war and stand in front of the mujahidin to deter from the cause of Allah, for He will give you disgrace in this world and torment in the hereafter.”

The message includes a reminder from Ansar Jerusalem that it disseminates messages only through the Al Fajr Media Center, a distribution arm for al Qaeda’s propaganda, and its approved forums. The organization has consistently said this is the case, and that it does not have any other official websites.

Ansar Jerusalem’s message concludes with the following: “We reiterate our call to our people in Egypt [to] stay away from headquarters, police, and security stations, as a protective measure for their lives.”

This is entirely consistent with Ayman al Zawahiri’s guidance for the jihad in Egypt. In a message released in mid-April, Zawahiri advised Egyptian jihadists to avoid unnecessary casualties and seek to build popular support for their nascent insurgency. “We bless every jihadist operation against the Zionist, Americanized Army that protects their borders, the Ministry of Interior, and the US interests that wage aggression against the Muslims as long as this jihadist operation abides by the sharia restrictions that avoid the impermissible [spilling of the] blood of Muslims,” Zawahiri said.

For an insurgency against the Egyptian government to succeed, Zawahiri said, the jihadists “must muster public support first.” The al Qaeda master warned, “Experience has shown us that without such support the fighting will not achieve victory or success.”

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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