Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Egypt Terrorism Watch: The Salafi Dynamite in Egypt's Pocket (Gaza)

As Egypt meets with a Hamas delegation from Gaza, Fatah al Islam and various Salafi Islamist adherents are challenging Hamas rule in the tiny sand pit of misery (video).  

The Salafi movement and Hamas have had several collisions in the last four years 

If the claim is true, Fatah al-Islam joins a long list of radical Islamist groups that have popped up in the Gaza Strip in recent years. They include Hizb al-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), Fatah al-Yasser, Qaida al-Islam, Army of Islam, Suyuf al-Haq (Swords of Justice) and the Nasser Eddin Brigades.

This report outlines the different groups and their history in Gaza.

The jihadist firebrands, who probably number only a few hundred, are divided between three main groups ideologically aligned with al-Qaida -- Jaish al-Islam, or Army of Islam; Tawhid wa'al-Jihad, or Monotheism and Holy War; and Jaish al-Umma, or Army of the Nation.

"Their ranks may be modest in number but their capacity to shape events inside Gaza and beyond is clearly on the rise," the Financial Times observed following the slaying of Arrigoni.

Jihadist groups emerged in Gaza after Israel's unilateral withdrawal in September 2005. They expanded during the subsequent fighting between Hamas and Israel.

Hamas' cease-fire with Israel following the invasion of Gaza by 12,000 Israeli troops in late December 2008 in a 22-day invasion that killed some 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, has incensed the jihadists, as has Hamas' efforts to break out of its international isolation.

As the report adds, as Hamas is unable to provide basic government services or get any recognition from the international community, more and more young people are turning towards the Salafi groups.  

What gives the growing jihadist presence even greater menace is that many recruits are former members of Hamas who say Hamas has betrayed its origins and abandoned the war against Israel.

The jihadists are believed to be responsible for many of the recent rocket and mortar attacks on Israel that have raised tensions to 2008 levels.

Ratcheting up tensions with Israel and possibly dragging Egypt into a conflict it is in no position to act on.  Plus, there is the possible reciprocation of jihadist activity in Egypt. 

Cairo claimed in January, before the pro-democracy uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, that Jaish al-Islam was responsible for a Jan. 1 suicide bombing of a church near Alexandria that killed 21 Christians and wounded 100 others.

The Army of Islam denied that. But a senior Israeli official alleged in December that hundreds of militants, mainly from Yemen and including some trained by al-Qaida, have infiltrated Gaza from Egypt through smuggling tunnels under the border.
Radicalization in Palestinian areas and refugee camps has been on the rise with Fatah al Islam battling it out with the Lebanese Army in 2006.  There is suspected collusion between Al Qaeda and Fatah al Islam as well as Syria and Fatah al Islam.  Syria, who in turn, is a client state of Iran.

How often does Iran, a Shia majority theocracy, get mentioned in relationship with Sunni Salafi terrorist groups?  Too often.

Iran is not a friend to Egypt.  It does not want Egypt to be a potential rival power.  Iran would like Egypt to be one of the Emirates in their version of the revived Abbasid Caliphate

1 comment:

Atlanta Roofing said...

Hamas is the stronger party... the PA has all but conceded defeat. A Palestinian government will simply be a fig leaf for Hamas even if it has Fatah ministers. There is going to be no question as to who is calling the shots - and the cumulative impact of yesterday's development will be to push the Palestinian Arabs in a more radical direction.