By Aron Klein
Marking a significant development in Mideast affairs, Salafists in the Gaza Strip plan to officially pledge allegiance to ISIS and openly fight under its banner, a senior Salafist militant in Gaza told WND in a phone interview.
The news immediately followed the release of a video from ISIS insurgents in Syria threatening to turn the Gaza Strip into another one of their Middle East territories and accusing Gaza’s Hamas rulers of selling out Islamic values.
Abu Mousub, an aide to Abu Al-Ayna al-Ansari, a leader of a Salafi group in the Gaza Strip, told WND by phone from Gaza that Al-Ansari’s group will officially announce it is representing ISIS in Gaza.
Until now, Al-Ansari’s jihadi group and other Gaza-based Salafist organizations have hesitated to officially declare themselves part of ISIS, instead preferring to say they were allied with ISIS ideology. This even though their written statements and videos brandished the ISIS flag.
Abu Mousub said if Hamas does not stop its crackdown on Salafists and dedicate itself to ISIS’ Islamic jihadist values, Al-Ansari’s new ISIS group plans to continue attacking Hamas installations with the aim of taking over Gaza from Hamas and incorporating the coastal enclave within ISIS’ self-declared caliphate.
Al-Ansari’s new-found confidence comes less than one day after the Information Bureau of the Aleppo Province, affiliated with ISIS, released a new video titled “A message to our folks in Jerusalem” in which ISIS members originally from Gaza declared war on both Israel and Hamas.
In the video, Abu Azzam Al-Ghazzawim who hails originally from Gaza, sent a message to what he called the “tyrants of Hamas”:
“You are nothing in our reckoning. You, Fatah and all the secularists, we count you as nothing. Allah willing, we shall uproot the state of the Jews. You are nothing but froth that will be gone as we move in. Allah willing, Gaza will be governed by Shariah despite you,” he stated.
Abu Qatadah Al-Filistini (Palestinian Abu Qatadah), an ISIS member who leads a faction in Aleppo, Syria, was on video calling on all “monotheists in Gaza to join the convoy of the Muhajidin and to join the State of the Caliphate.”
Abu Qatadah further accused Hamas of “sliding gradually into apostasy, a slide that started with the demolition of the Ibn Taymiyah Mosque.”
“It is a movement that does not seek to govern according to Shariah but seeks to appease Iran and America, the heads of apostasy.”
The developments come after ISIS in the northern Sinai Peninsula, which neighbors Gaza, faced off with the Egyptian military in what media is describing as the deadliest battle on the peninsula since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
Egypt’s general command for the armed forces released a statement that the army had killed at least 100 militants in North Sinai while it said 17 of its own soldiers, including four officers, were also killed.
However, Egyptian security sources put the actual number of dead Egyptian soldiers at closer to 65.
Significantly, the ISIS militants in Sinai captured Egyptian tanks, the security sources told WND.
The Egyptian security sources further divulged that for the first time ever, ISIS militants in the Sinai temporarily occupied two towns, Rafah and to Sheikh Zuweid. The sources conceded that as of this report, ISIS is still in some control of pockets of both towns.