http://www.terrorism-info.org. il/malam_multimedia/English/ eng_n/html/ipc_e165.htm

Exporting terrorism and subversion from the Gaza Strip: in our assessment
terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip may exploit the recent events to
increase arms smuggling and infiltrate operatives into Egypt. The Gaza-based
jihadist Army of Islam has already been accused of the attack on the Coptic
church in Alexandria.

Developments in the wake of recent events in Egypt

1. The Hamas leadership has been closely following recent events in Egypt
but so far has not taken a definite public stance in favor of either side.
Hamas is interested in seeing the Egyptian regime overthrown, but fears it
may survive and later settle accounts.

2. In the meantime, Hamas is taking precautions to ensure the security of
the Philadelphi route, the Egyptian-Gaza Strip border. The Hamas-affiliated
media have also been monitoring violent events in the districts of Rafah and
El Arish. Hamas has made it clear that there is no danger of shortages in
the Gaza Strip, especially of fuel and food, and that smuggling will
continue through the tunnels.

3. Hamas is also helping its operatives escape from Egyptian jails. So far,
a number of prisoners have returned to the Gaza Strip, entering though the
tunnels. In addition, in our assessment terrorist networks in the Gaza Strip
may exploit the events to increase the smuggling of arms into the Sinai
Peninsula and the infiltration of operatives into Egypt.

4. So far the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip has been careful to show
itself as not exploiting the situation to further terrorism. However, it has
helped its operatives who escaped from the prison in Cairo and in our
assessment is waiting for the right time to take a stance. The other
terrorist operatives operating in the Gaza Strip, including the Palestinian
Islamic Jihad and especially global jihad networks such as the Army of
Islam, want to exploit the situation to further their own activities and
strengthen the terrorist networks in the Sinai Peninsula.

5. The Gaza Strip was clearly an exporter of terrorism to Egypt before the
current crisis began. Egypt’s outgoing interior minister, and after him the
Egypt media, accused the Army of Islam operating in the Gaza Strip of
involvement in the mass-casualty suicide bombing attack at a Coptic church
in Alexandria (January 2011, 25 killed and at least 80 wounded). Army of
Islam operatives in the Gaza Strip were accused of directing terrorist
activities in Egypt for Al-Qaeda and of contacting terrorist operatives
through the tunnels under the Egyptian-Gazan border (which, according to the
outgoing interior minister, threaten Egypt’s national security). The Army of
Islam was also accused of involvement in other terrorist attacks carried out
in Egypt in recent years, including one in the El Khalili bazaar in Cairo
which killed a woman tourist from France (February 22, 2009).

6. An Army of Islam spokesman denied that the organization was involved in
the attack in Alexandria, but praised the attackers themselves. A senior
Army of Islam figure claimed that the Egyptian accusations were an Israeli
effort to prepare world public opinion for a new war against the Gaza Strip.
Hamas was quick to denounce the attack in Alexandria and called on the
Egyptian authorities to join it in examining the reliability of the Egyptian
information, but took no steps against the Army of Islam, toward which it is
tolerant.

7. The Army of Islam is a prominent Salafist jihadist network which has been
active in the Gaza Strip since 2006, one of several networks affiliated with
Al-Qaeda and the global jihad. Its leader is Mumtaz Dughmush, scion of a
very powerful Gaza Strip clan. In recent years the Army of Islam, which
participated in the abduction of Gilad Shalit in June 2006, has adopted
global jihad methods, such as abducting Western correspondents, attacking
places of entertainment in the Gaza Strip which are considered “Western”
(including Internet cafés), and attacking Israelis and foreigners in the
Sinai Peninsula.

8. In the past there was tension between the Army of Islam and Hamas and
even violent confrontations, but they never degenerated into an open break.
That is because Hamas has been lenient with the Army of Islam (because of
their past operational collaboration, including the abduction of Gilad
Shalit). Thus, hamas has not taken effective steps to restrain it as it did
in the past against the Jund Ansar Allah in the 2009 affair of the Ibn
Tamiyyah mosque in Rafah.

9. In our assessment, the Egyptian accusations against the Army of Islam
reflect a genuine fear that the Gaza Strip will turn into a hotbed of
subversive activities and export subversion and terrorism to Egypt. That
fear, which in our assessment is liable to increase because of the Army of
Islam’s involvement in terrorism in Egypt and in view of the recent dramatic
events, is based on several factors: the geographical proximity between
Egypt and the Gaza Strip, the existence of Al-Qaeda-affiliated Salafist
networks and the close relations between Hamas and the radical oppositionist
Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, Hamas and jihadist network have joined
forces with the Bedouins and global jihad networks in the Sinai Peninsula,
and with terrorist networks operating in Egypt. All of the above are
happening at the end of the Mubarak era, with its internal tensions and
extensive protests, inspired by Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution.

Egyptian accusations against the Army of Islam

10. Habib El Adly, the outgoing Egyptian interior minister, gave a speech in
honor of Police Day in which he accused the Palestinian Army of Islam1
operating in the Gaza Strip of the attack on the Coptic church in
Alexandria. The attack, carried out on New Year’s Eve by a suicide bomber,
killed 25 civilians and wounded at least 80. El Adly added that Egypt had
“unequivocal evidence” that this “despicable act of terrorism” had been
carried out by the Army of Islam. He ended by saying that the terrorist
attacks in Alexandria would not break the will of Egypt, “which for hundreds
of years has been built on the souls of its people, principles of moderation
and tolerance, acceptance of others and the forsaking of violence and
terrorism” (Establishment Egyptian TV, January 23, 2011).

11. Two days later, on January 25, El Adly was interviewed by Al-Ahram and
spoke at length about the Army of Islam’s involvement in the attack in
Alexandria. His main points were the following (Al-Ahram, January 25, 2011):

1) Al-Qaeda has three main regional centers: Iraq, the countries of
north Africa, and the Gaza Strip, where the Army of Islam operates. Al-Qaeda
uses the Internet to recruit, train and prepare for terrorist attacks. It
also uses the Internet to transmit instructions to its operatives about
evading security forces and preparing IEDs from readily available materials.
El Adly said that Egypt was convinced there were dozens of operatives loyal
to Al-Qaeda in the Gaza Strip and that in the past some of them had
attempted to carry out terrorist attacks in Egypt.

2) Al-Qaeda, one of whose objectives is to harm Christians and Jews,
previously threatened to attack churches in Egypt. El Adly revealed that
before the attack on the church in Alexandria the Egyptian security forces
captured an Al-Qaeda squad which had weapons and sketches of Christian
places of worship in Upper Egypt and Alexandria. The squad, composed of 19
suicide bombers and connected to a branch of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, was planning
to attack the Christian sites.

3) An Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative named Ahmed Lutfi Ibrahim, who was
involved in the attack on the church, was in contact with an Al-Qaeda squad
which was exposed before it took place. The Egyptian security forces
arrested him and searched his house. During interrogation he revealed his
involvement in terrorist attacks in Egypt and his ties to the Army of Islam
in the Gaza Strip.

4) Ahmed Lutfi Ibrahim stated that in 2008 he went to the Gaza Strip,
returned to Egypt and used the Internet to stay in contact with Army of
Islam operatives there. He said that the Palestinian Army of Islam told him
to monitor [Christian] places of worship in several districts, including El
Fayoum and Alexandria. He was also instructed to collect detailed
information about the Church of the Two Saints [the Coptic church where the
suicide bombing attack took place].

5) He collected intelligence about the church and emailed pictures of it
to the Army of Islam in the Gaza Strip. In preparation for the attack, the
Army of Islam also told him to acquire an apartment and a car. He suggested
sending a suicide bomber [istishhadi] to attack the church. El Adly added
that the Army of Islam had ruled that operatives who carried out attacks in
Egypt should not be Egyptians or Palestinians, and therefore Ahmed Ibrahim
did not participate in the attack.

6) El Adly accused the Army of Islam of involvement in the terrorist
attack carried out in the Khan El Khalili bazaar in Cairo (February 2009),
where a woman tourist from France was killed. He said that Army of Islam
operatives had carried out the crimes and that “they had to be held
accountable.”

7) Contact was maintained between terrorist operatives in Egypt and the
Army of Islam in the Gaza Strip through the tunnels [under the Egypt-Gaza
Strip border]. Egypt, said El Adly, blew up the tunnels daily and
confiscated merchandise, fuel and disassembled cars, but “no country in the
world can [completely] control its borders. He added, “We fight against the
tunnels because they are very dangerous and are a threat to national
security.” He said the Army of Islam used the tunnels to transmit
instructions to terrorist operatives in Egypt who were neither Egyptian nor
Palestinian.

8) However, El Adly was lenient when referring to Hamas. “It is no
secret,” he said, “that Hamas takes steps against Palestinian Army of Islam
operatives, who are affiliated with Al-Qaeda, because the Army of Islam’s
attacks on Israel threaten the lull agreement.”

12. In addition, an Egyptian “security source” said that the information of
the national security services indicated that the Army of Islam was
responsible for the attack on the Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria.
The Army of Islam was aided and abetted by an Egyptian operative named
[Ahmed] Lutfi Ibrahim, who infiltrated into the Gaza Strip a number of times
in 2008 after having been exposed to Al-Qaeda and jihadist ideology over the
Internet. When in the Gaza Strip Army of Islam operatives he met convinced
him that attacking Christian and Jewish places of worship was a precept of
jihad.

13. The Egyptian operative admitted that after returning from the Gaza Strip
to Egypt he used the Internet to maintain contact with Army of Islam
operatives. During 2010 he was instructed to monitor Christian and Jewish
places of worship in preparation for carrying out terrorist attacks against
them. In October 2010 he updated them about the possibility of an attack on
the Church of the Two Saints and other targets in Alexandria (the Maximus
Church and a synagogue).

14. He stated that he was instructed to organize an apartment and car for
the operatives who would carry out the attack. In December 2010 he was told
that operatives had been dispatched to carry it out and he was congratulated
by a senior Army of Islam operative on his part in preparing it (Website of
the National Democratic Party, January 23, 2011; the independent Egyptian
portal Masri reported the same information as an official interior ministry
statement).

Army of Islam responses

15. An Army of Islam spokesman interviewed by Reuters in the Gaza Strip
claimed that his organization had no connection with the attack on the
church, although he congratulated those who had carried it out (Reuters,
January 23, 2011).

16. A senior Army of Islam operative calling himself Abu Khattab claimed
that the network did not operate on Egyptian soil. He said that if the
Egyptian interior minister had proof he should release it to the media and
“thus reveal the lies of his claims.” He added that “we are prepared to
disprove his evidence, if he has any,” and that the Egyptian accusations
were a manifestation of Israel’s efforts to enlist international public
opinion against the Gaza Strip to wage a new war (Al-Resalah.net, Gaza
Strip).

The Army of Islam and its terrorist activities

17. Various jihadist-Salafist2 networks affiliated with Al-Qaeda thrive in
the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Army of Islam (Jayish al-Islam),
established in 2006, is one of the most prominent. It was founded by Mumtaz
Dughmush, a scion of a powerful clan centered in the Sabra neighborhood in
Gaza City. He and his followers left the Popular Resistance Committees and
set up their own network, apparently later joined by operatives of the Izz
al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. Initially the Army of Islam
had close relations with Hamas; However, tensions developed and there were
even violent confrontations between them although Hamas showed leniency
toward them.
Mumtaz Dughmush, Army of Islam founder and head (right) with one of his
operatives (Hamas forum website, January 24, 2007).
Mumtaz Dughmush, Army of Islam founder and head (right) with one of his
operatives (Hamas forum website, January 24, 2007). According to the
Egyptian daily Al-Ahram (January 24, 2011), the Egyptian attorney general
demanded he and all those involved in the attack on the church in Alexandria
be brought to trial.

18. The Army of Islam has strong military capabilities compared with other
jihadist-Salafist networks in the Gaza Strip. In addition to ongoing attacks
(attempts to fire rockets into Israeli territory), the network has adopted
the modus operandi of the global jihad. That includes the abduction of
foreign nationals and attacks on places of entertainment in the Gaza Strip,
such as Internet cafés, which violate, it claims, Islamic morality. In June
2006 the Army of Islam collaborated with Hamas in abducting IDF soldier
Gilad Shalit. In March 2007 it was behind the abduction of British
journalist Alan Johnston, and in August 2007 it was behind the abduction of
two Fox News correspondents, who were later ransomed.
The Army of Islam video of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, seen strapped
into an explosive belt and reciting the Army of Islam’s demands for his
release (Al-Arabiya TV, June 25, 2007).
The Army of Islam video of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, seen strapped
into an explosive belt and reciting the Army of Islam’s demands for his
release (Al-Arabiya TV, June 25, 2007).

19. Since Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009) the Army of Islam
has tried to carry out a number of showcase attacks against Israel and
foreign targets. According to media reports, in October 2010 it was planning
to abduct Israelis or foreigners vacationing in the Sinai Peninsula, but was
apparently foiled by the deaths of senior operatives: On November 3, 2010,
the Israeli Air Force struck the car carrying Muhammad al-Nimnim, killing
him. According to the (IDF Spokesman’s website, November 3, 2010),
al-Nimnim, a resident of the Shati refugee camp, was involved in terrorist
attacks carried out in the Gaza Strip and in planning terrorist attacks
against Israelis and Americans in the Sinai Peninsula in collaboration with
Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip. On November 17 the Israeli Air Force
struck and killed Islam Yassin and his brother.

Hamas response to accusations against the Army of Islam

20. Following the accusations leveled against the Army of Islam by the
Egyptian interior minister, on January 23 Taher al-Nunu, spokesman for the
de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, was quick to call a press
conference. He denounced the “crime” in Alexandria (i.e., the attack on the
Coptic church). However, he did not categorically deny the Egyptian
accusations of Army of Islam involvement in the attack. He said that the
Hamas administration’s relations with Egypt would continue to be firm and
that Hamas asked Egypt to contact it immediately to examine the reliability
of the information reported. He ended with the (baseless) claim that there
were no Al-Qaeda networks in the Gaza Strip and that all the weapons of all
the Palestinian organizations were turned exclusively on the “Zionist enemy”
(Al-Aqsa TV, January 23, 2011).

21. Hamas’ response reflects the problems it faces in dealing with the
jihadist-Salafist networks in the Gaza Strip in general and with the Army of
Islam in particular:

1) On the one hand, Hamas and the jihadist networks share a common
radical Islamic ideology, and dealing with them aggressively is liable to
result in internal criticism from the radical Islamic followers, even those
which support Hamas. In addition, of all the jihadist networks, the Army of
Islam receives preferential treatment from Hamas, in our assessment, because
of their past operational collaboration, such as the abduction of Gilad
Shalit.

2) On the other hand, Hamas feels threatened by the increased activity
and influence of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated networks, which challenge its
control (even if they are not strong enough to challenge its complete
domination of the Gaza Strip). In addition, it rejects their modus operandi
because, motivated by pragmatic governmental concerns, it must maneuver
between ideology and the exigencies of rule.

22. In response to that duality, so far Hamas has shown a great deal of
tolerance for the jihadist-Salafist networks and usually does not take
effective steps to suppress them. However, its security forces oversee their
activities and try to enforce Hamas’ policy of restrained rocket fire,
generally (but not always) with relative success. Hamas’ patience for the
networks runs out only in extreme cases where they pose a genuine challenge
to Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip. Such a case was the suppression of the
Jund Ansar Allah operatives at the Ibn Tamiyyah mosque in Rafah, after one
of their leaders declared an Islamic emirate in Palestine and a condemned
the de facto Hamas administration.3

23. The export of terrorism by networks in the Gaza Strip affiliated with
Al-Qaeda has the potential to further complicate the already charged
relations between Hamas and Egypt (which holds Hamas responsible for
everything that happens in the Gaza Strip). Nevertheless, in our assessment,
at this stage it is doubtful whether it will provide Hamas with an excuse to
take effective steps against the Army of Islam, even after the exposure of
its involvement in terrorism in Egypt.

Turning the Gaza Strip into a major exporter of terrorism and subversion

24. The control of the Gaza Strip by radical Islamic Hamas and the
flourishing of Al-Qaeda-affiliated networks hostile to the pragmatic
pro-Western Arab regimes create the potential for exporting terrorism and
subversion from the Gaza Strip to neighboring countries. Egypt is
particularly worried about the danger to its national security posed by the
Gaza Strip’s turning into a hothouse for terrorism for a variety of reasons:
Egypt lies in close geographical proximity to the Gaza Strip; it has a
radical Islamic opposition (the Muslim Brotherhood) which influences the
regime; and Hamas (the Gazan offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) and the
jihadist networks have joined forces with the Bedouin tribes in the Sinai
Peninsula. All those factor working in conjunction with Egypt’s currently
unstable political climate at the end of the Mubarak era and the massive
protests following the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia worry the Egyptian
regime.

25. The Egyptian media have accused the Army of Islam of “specializing” in
terrorist attacks in Egypt and of involvement not only in the attack in
Alexandria but also of terrorist attacks in the Sinai Peninsula (Sharm El
Sheikh and Dahab) and Cairo. However, most of the media reports focused on
the Army of Islam’s involvement in the explosion in the Khan El Khalili
bazaar in Cairo on February 22, 2009. The explosion killed a woman tourist
from France and wounded 17 civilians (ten French, three German and four
Egyptian). On January 24, 2011, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported that
Egyptian security forces had previously arrested seven Army of Islam
operatives in connection with the Khan el Khalili attack. Two of them were
Palestinian, two were Egyptian, one was British of Egyptian extraction, one
Belgian of Tunisian extraction and one a Frenchwoman of Albanian
extraction.4 According to the newspaper, the arrests prevented terrorist
attacks in France and other countries.

The Khan el Khalili bazaar
The Khan el Khalili bazaar
(Website of
weekly.aharam.org.eg , February 26-March 4, 2009).

26. In relation to the attack in the bazaar, Al-Ahram added that Army of
Islam operatives underwent intensive training in remote IED detonation, the
use of explosives found in unexploded shells and ammunition found in the
Sinai Peninsula. It added that the Egyptian interior ministry previously
announced that two escaped Egyptian citizens, Ahmed Sadiq and Khaled Mahmoud
Mustafa, dispatched a number of operatives to the Gaza Strip through the
tunnels. They were trained by Army of Islam operatives in the use of
explosives and electrical circuits. According to an Egyptian website, Khaled
Mahmoud Mustafa, who planned the attack in the bazaar, is currently living
in the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City (the stronghold of the Dughmush clan
and an Army of Islam power base) (Shabakat al-Rasd al-Akhbari website,
January 23, 2011).

Exporting terrorism to Morocco

27. Another example of internal Arab terrorism with roots in the Gaza Strip
was the exposure of a terrorist network in Morocco. In June 2010 an
eleven-man cell of Moroccans from Casablanca, Azjlal (in the Atlas
mountains) and Oujda (in eastern Morocco), as well of Palestinians, was
exposed. The cell was headed by Yahya al-Hindi, aka Abu Qutada al-Shami, a
Palestinian from the Gaza Strip. He had previously been a Palestinian
Islamic Jihad operative and was influenced by Al-Qaeda’s ideology.

28. In 2006 al-Hindi set up a terrorist network in the Gaza Strip with ties
to the global jihad which called itself the Uniqueness of Allah and Jihad in
Ardh al-Ribat.5 It planned attacks on Israel and a number of times claimed
responsibility for rockets targeting Israeli towns and villages in the
western Negev. According to media reports, al-Hindi spent time in
Afghanistan where he underwent military training at a Taliban camps,
including in making and using explosives (Agence France-Presse, June 22,
2010; Maghreb Arab News Agency, June 21, 2010;
posterous.com website, July
2, 2010). While in Afghanistan al-Hindi became acquainted with Al-Qaeda
operatives, including Moroccans. After his return to the Gaza Strip he used
jihadist websites to contact them, maintaining contact for three years.6

1 The Arab media use the term Palestinian to distinguish between the Gazan
Army of Islam and other networks with the same or a similar name around the
globe.

2 Salafism is an Islamic school which favors the tenets of Islam according
to the first generations, which are
considered role models. During the past few decades Salafism had turned from
a fundamentalist Islamic idea to a radical political ideology held by
extremist Muslims operating in the Middle East and around the world
(including Al-Qaeda).

3 For further information see the September 1, 2009 bulletin, “Hamas steps
up its struggle against the global jihad-affiliated networks trying to
challenge its control of the Gaza Strip.”

4 In our assessment, a reference to arrests carried out in May 2009. At the
time an Egyptian “security source” reported that the detainees had been
found with IEDs and ammunition in their possession. It was reported that
they were planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Egypt and abroad. The
“security source” added that the terrorist cell was directed by two Egyptian
civilians who sent operatives to the Gaza Strip through the tunnels to
undergo explosives training (El Masri website, May 23, 2009).

5 Ardh al-ribat (frontier in Arabic) is a Muslim name for an outlying region
where battles are waged between Muslims and “infidels” in defense of Muslim
land. It is used to refer to ‘Palestine,” which is considered “occupied
Muslim land.” Thus the Palestinians are considered a kind of garrison whose
duty is to participate in a future jihad for the “liberation” of Muslim holy
places.

6 For further information see the August 19, 2010 bulletin, ” The Gaza Strip
as a regional exporter of terrorism ” at
http://www.terrorism-info.org. il/malam_multimedia/English/ eng_n/pdf/ipc_e116.pdf .

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