A video entitled "خرق الحصون ," "Breach of Forts/Strongholds" was released today by the Brigades of 'Abdullah 'Azzam (BAA), a Salafi jihadi group which claimed responsibility for a series of bombings at luxury resorts in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt in October 2004 and July 2005, as well as failed rocket attacks on U.S. Navy ships in the Jordanian Red Sea port city of Aqaba in August 2005 (more information HERE). The BAA, reputedly affiliated with the jihadi umbrella "al-Qa'ida in the Levant and Egypt," is named after the late Palestinian religious scholar and paramount jihadi ideologue, 'Abdullah 'Azzam, who played a major role in fundraising and recruiting for the 1980s war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. For more on 'Azzam, see HERE. Today's video is notable chiefly because it was not only issued in the name of the BAA, but also in the name of a seemingly new branch of it in Lebanon, the Detachments of Ziyad Jarrah. Due to the flexible transliteration of Arabic into English and depending on how one translates the Arabic word "سرايا ," it could also be rendered: Brigades of Ziad Jarrah; سرايا translates most closely to "detachments" or "squadrons," but is often translated into English as "Brigades" or "Battalions," e.g. the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement, سرايا القدس as the "Quds Brigades."
The Detachments are named after Ziyad Samir Jarrah, one of the nineteen September 11, 2001 hijacker-terrorists. Jarrah, Lebanese, crashed United Airlines flight 93 into a field in Pennsylvania. He was not always religious or radical and is believed to have been a hesitant recruit to AQC. In the linked video (see previous sentence), Jarrah has difficulty taking his own "martyr" will seriously, to the annoyance of the AQC film-makers.
Jarrah (lower left), shown in a cyber mural with some of the other September 11, 2001 hijackers and two major "martyred" jihadi leaders, 'Abdullah 'Azzam (upper right-hand corner) and Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi (center).
Jarrah at a U.S. flight school.
Jarrah was known to frequent night clubs in Lebanon and drink alcohol when he was younger (though he died fairly young, born 1975). Many jihadis, particularly "Westernized" ones or those in Europe are not longtime radicals but are radicalized by recruiters for a variety of reasons.
A teaser advertisement GIF (see below) that appeared several days ago on the major Salafi jihadi discussion forums did not include the name of the new branch of the BAA, saying that a "surprise of another kind" was "close."
The nearly 16-minute video opens with audio recordings of the late Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers, also known as al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC) chief Usama bin Laden, and AQC chief ideologue Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri stating the importance of Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) to Muslims. An intro animation shows a mobile rocket launcher mounted on a truck breaking through two walls, the first with the emblem of the United Nations and Security Council resolution 1701, which called for a cessation in fighting between Israel and Hizbullah, Lebanon's largest Shi'i movement, and the second with the emblem of Hizbullah. The truck reaches the border fence with Israel, on the other side of which is an Israeli settlement and a huge Star of David, which is the prominent design of the Israeli flag. Rockets are fired and the Star is destroyed. United Nations peacekeepers are described as "crusaders," and Israelis as "apes" and "pigs." Palestine, and particularly Jerusalem, are described as the "holy land" or "holy country."
The "theme" of the video centers on criticism of "the hypocrites" in Lebanon: Hizbullah. The Shi'i party is criticized for failing to live up to the fierce and lofty rhetoric of its leader, al-Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, particularly during the Israeli assault on the beseiged Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009, and for preventing the "real mujahideen" (warriors of faith), represented by the Salafi jihadis in Lebanon, from attacking the Israeli occupiers. As I wrote previously HERE, the Salafi trend within Sunni Islam, including a militant jihadi sub-trend, is spreading in Lebanon. Salafi jihadi ideology has particularly taken root in some of the destitute Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, home to over 400,000 Palestinians, including the largest camp, 'Ain al-Hilwe, outside of the southern port city of Sidon.
A section of the video release "From Here We Start and at al-Aqsa We Meet," produced by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and released to the jihadi forums in early May, featuring AQAP's military commander, Abu Hurayrah al-San'ani (also known as Abu Hurayra Qasim al-Rimi), "the San'ani " (Yemen's capital city) is included.
The part quoted is when al-Sana'ni bluntly criticizes Nasrallah for his empty rhetoric during the recent Gaza conflict:
"I also have a message for Hassan Nasrallah: Why all this false crying for Gaza and its people? Did you not announce that you have approximately 20,000 missiles, each capable of reaching [the Israeli port city of] Tel Aviv? Do your brothers in Gaza not deserve that you launch a thousand or two or three thousand in their aid, instead of this false crying and blaming of others? Or is Lebanese soil worth more to you than the blood of the Palestinian Muslims? Tell me, by your Lord, what is the difference between you and [Egyptian autocratic president] Hosni Mubarak? He is the protective barrier of the Jews in Egypt, while you are their protective barrier in Lebanon."
Al-San'ani is referencing Nasrallah's fiery speech criticizing Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak for aiding the Israeli siege of Gaza and for refusing to open his borders to Palestinians in need during the Israeli military campaign. Despite his rhetoric, al-San'ani points out correctly, Hizbullah did not attempt to aid the Palestinians during the campaign. A few rockets were fired into northern Israel, but not by Hizbullah. It is believed that one of the small Salafi jihadi groups operating in southern Lebanon was responsible for firing these rockets.
I found the Saraya Ziyad Jarrah video, but have left up the original video of al-San'ani, which can be seen here:
It begins around the 3:22 mark. The first individual is Abu Basir Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the amir (commander) of AQAP and a former secretary for Usama bin Laden.
Footage of relatively simple short-range rockets, presumably fielded by the Detachments of Ziyad Jarrah, is then shown, followed by a short animation of a rocket destroying an Israeli Star over al-Aqsa Mosque with the text "مرحلة تجهيز ", "Preparation Stage." Masked jihadis are then shown studying a map with printed text suggesting that it was stolen from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is tasked with separating Hizbullah and Israeli forces, as audio of al-Zawahiri addressing jihadis in the Levant runs. The masked jihadis are then shown preparing a rocket, perhaps four or so feet in length, as a jihadi nasheed (religious song) plays.
The animation showing a rocket destroying an Israeli Star is shown again, this time with the text, "مرحلة تنفيذ ," "Implementation Stage." The video ends with footage of rockets being prepared for firing at visible Israeli military positions in "occupied northern Palestine" using simple launchers that are (visibly) easily hidden in groves of trees and fields of tall grass and vegetation in southern Lebanon. Another jihadi nasheed plays during this footage.
The video ends with the question:
أين أحفاد صلاح الدين لتحرير فلسطين
"Where Are the Descendants of Salah al-Din (Saladin) for
the Liberation of Palestine?"
Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn al-Ayyub, famous as the "noble Saracen Saladin" in European literature (such as Dante's Inferno, where he is one of the "righteous infidels" who occupy Purgatory, unlike the Prophet Muhammad, who is in the lowest level of Hell) and popular culture (such as Ridley Scott's film Kingdom of Heaven), recaptured Jerusalem from the Christian Crusaders in 1187 C.E. This historical reference is common to many kinds of Muslim and Arab (which are not synonymous, despite the idiocy of some) political writings, including those of Salafi jihadis.
View a short British news report short after September 11, 2001 about the shock of Jarrah's family in Lebanon HERE.
The formation of this new group, even if small, is an interesting and important development in the establishment of bases of operation by Lebanese, and perhaps foreign, Salafi jihadis in southern Lebanon. Such a development is not in the political or strategic interests of any of the major parties in southern Lebanon, least of all Hizbullah, which has actively prevented such groups from operating in the recent past, which has earned it excoriation from al-Zawahiri, al-Zarqawi, and other major Salafi jihadi leaders and ideologues.
[Keywords for Web Search Purposes: Abdullah Azzam Brigades; Lebanese jihadi group criticizes Hezbollah/Hizbullah)
View the video.