December 19, 2023 | FDD's Long War Journal

Al Qaeda-aligned Jaysh al-Ummah says it is fighting Israeli troops in Gaza

December 19, 2023 | FDD's Long War Journal

Al Qaeda-aligned Jaysh al-Ummah says it is fighting Israeli troops in Gaza

Al Qaeda-aligned Jaysh al-Ummah published a statement on Dec. 8 saying its fighters have attacked Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops operating in the Gaza Strip.

The statement alleges that IDF positions, along with Israeli communities near the Gaza border, were targeted with rockets and heavy-caliber mortar shells by “artillery units.” Jaysh al-Ummah further claims that during the initial phase of the IDF’s ground incursion in northern Gaza, its fighters engaged Israeli forces using improvised explosive devices, anti-tank weaponry, and machine guns, leading to casualties among Israeli troops.

Furthermore, in an encounter with Israeli forces in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, a member of the group identified as Ahmed Saleh Hamid was killed. The statement alleges Hamid is the nephew of Jaysh al-Ummah’s Emir, Abu Hafs al-Maqdisi.

Despite past strife and criticism of Hamas, the declaration published by Jaysh al-Ummah refers to the ongoing war in Gaza as the “Al-Aqsa Flood,” a term originally coined by Hamas and subsequently adopted by various Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip for the Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel.

The apparent support in the statement for the Hamas-led terrorist attack on Oct. 7 and the subsequent confrontations within the Gaza Strip may suggest that Jaysh al-Ummah perceives the need for a loose collaboration or support among various Palestinian terrorist groups to counter Israel, given the difficult circumstances surrounding their operations in the enclave.

Lastly, the statement criticizes Arab nations for failing to provide support to Muslims in Gaza during the war. Jaysh al-Ummah particularly targets the leaders of Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, accusing them of actively contributing to the “war against Islam.”

Jaysh al-Ummah’s affiliation with Al Qaeda

Thabat, a media organization associated with Al Qaeda, has released multiple articles authored by Jaysh al-Ummah, implying that this group could represent or be affiliated with Al Qaeda in Gaza. Jaysh al-Ummah, while not as active as other movements in Gaza like Hamas, does have an online presence and has even taken responsibility for an attack on Israel in 2019.

Other activities, such as online campaigning for financial support via Bitcoin, have permitted the jihadist group to bypass international financial regulation laws – thus allowing it to receive money from supporters living abroad.

Joe Truzman is a research analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah.


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