Sunday, September 13, 2009

Friday's Rocket Strikes on Israel Claimed by Transnational Jihadi Group, Ziyad Jarrah Brigades, in Lebanon


The Ziyad Jarrah Brigades (ZJB), sometimes transliterated as "Ziad Jarrah," whose founding in July I wrote about HERE, a wing of the 'Abdullah 'Azzam Brigades, a Levantine transnational jihadi group, had claimed the firing of two low-tech rockets into northern Israel on Friday, September 11. Small jihadi groups based in southern Lebanon, who are opposed to both the Lebanese government and the country's largest Shi'i political party, Hizbullah, have periodically fired single to several rockets in similar strikes. They are critical of Hizbullah for attempting to halt such attacks, and Salafi jihadi leaders from outside Lebanon have joined in, including al-Qa'ida "Central's" (AQC) chief ideologue Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and the military commander of al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Abu Hurayrah Qasim al-Raymi.

The ZJB have issued a statement claiming the rocket strikes, which begins: "Praise be to God, Champion of the believers [as in all Salafi jihadi media, this refers to only those "true" Muslims, i.e. the jihadis, or "mujahideen" (warriors of faith) as they prefer to be called, and their supporters], those who launched jihad [the struggle] to protect the religion and to support the vulnerable, and Peace and Blessings upon Muhammad, Seal of the Prophets and his family and Companions..."

الحمد لله ناصر المؤمنين، الذي شرع الجهاد حفظا للدين، ونصرة للمستضعفين، والصلاة والسلام على محمد خاتم الأنبياء والمرسلين، وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين

The statement goes on to say that "the Jews," by which they mean the Israelis/Zionists, have are preventing Palestinians from praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, while also continuing to insulting them and desecrating their holy places. The Israeli police often do restrict who may enter the Haram al-Sharif platform, where al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock stand (known to Jews as Har haBayit or Temple Mount), but there is not a blanket ban on prayer there. Generally, Palestinian men under a certain age, usually the mid-forties, are not allowed to enter the platform. At other times, only Muslim visitors are permitted, and those wishing to visit are required to answer religious questions or recite a surah from the Qur'an (by both the Israeli Border Police and Waqf [Muslim Religious Trust]).

In retaliation for this persecution, the statement continues, the ZJB fired two katyusha rockets which hit the Israeli settlement of Nahariya.

The Israeli military retaliated swiftly by firing a dozen artillery rounds at targets inside southern Lebanon, though deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said that the state was not interested in an escalation of tensions. He also repeated Israeli allegations that Hizbullah was continuing to receive armaments from Syria and Iran, despite the fact that Saturday's rocket attacks were not carried out by the Shi'i party. Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahi has taken a harder line, saying that the state would "not hold back" if attacked. Tensions have not escalated following the strikes and counter-strikes, suggesting that neither Israel nor Hizbullah nor the Lebanon desire a conflict. However, small groups such as the ZJB may yet succeed in dragging them back into a regional confrontation.

Ziyad Jarah Brigades Statement
Read the Ziyad Jarrah Brigades' statement (in Arabic).


Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the strategy of these Salafist jihadist groups in the Levant is to provoke Israel to attack Lebanon and cause an all out war similar to Zarqawi's strategy in Iraq? Also is there any evidence that these groups cordinate or communicate with like minded groups in Iraq? It seems that there is a strategy amongst transnationals in the area to move away from focusing on the U.S. and to focus on underming Hamas and Hezbollah and to try and pull off an attack in Israel proper.

إبن الصقلي said...

Thanks for reading and for your thought-provoking comment and insights.

I think that is certainly the goal of many of these groups, particularly the new ones (most of which, all information suggests, are quite small). The fact that Hizbullah did not launch any military response during Israel's campaign in Gaza late last year and early this year has been bitterly criticized by these groups, who are anti-Shi'i anyway, as well as by a couple senior leaders in groups active in other countries, such as Abu Hurayrah Qasim al-Raymi.

There have been movements from these groups in Lebanon, whose members are not always entirely Lebanese or Palestinian-Lebanese, into Iraq. At least one of the identified kamikaze (suicide) bombers in Iraq was from Lebanon, and others have been killed in other forms of fighting. There are networks that have facilitated their movement into Iraq, but I am not sure that there is necessarily a real formal coordination in all cases. In many cases, independent smugglers are paid to lead people into Iraq. Back in 2003-2004, they would then travel to insurgent and particularly al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Rivers (AQI) strongholds in places around al-Anbar Province and cities like Tal'afar. Al-Zarqawi and other AQI leaders often said in their media releases that the "road to al-Quds goes through Baghdad." They have also been fierce critics of Hizbullah, both for theological as well as political reasons.

Although AQ "Central" and the Salafi jihadis have long been critical of religious nationalist groups like HAMAS and Hizbullah, after the late August fighting between HAMAS and Jund Ansar Allah at the Ibn Taymiyyah Mosque in Rafah, the spigots have been turned on and HAMAS has been attacked by many of the largest, most important Salafi jihadi outfits around the globe, including the Islamic State of Iraq (the umbrella organization under which AQI falls) and al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghrib, as well as by major scholars such as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi. HAMAS, because of its nationalism, which al-Zawahiri has frequently said AQC despises, and participation in the Palestinian electoral process, seems to have become the newest addition to the Salafi jihadis' list of corrupt rulers (Tawagheet).

Abu Guerrilla said...

I was in my news agency on the West Bank when I heard about the rockets. I looked at my boss and said "PFLP-GC?" We both thought so.

So it is taqferis who are behind it. Do you think they are of Palestinian stock? Pherhpas they could have both a Islamist and natoinalist intrest here.

If so, this could be another point in a book that someone should write about how the Palestinians camps in the Levant are recuriting grounds for Salafi-Jihadis.


إبن الصقلي said...

So little is known about the Ziyad Jarrah Brigades, but if one was to go by the memberships of the other small groups, I think that it's a safe bet that there are some disillusioned Palestinian refugees.

Although more work needs to be done, the French Islamicist Bernard Rougier has written an excellent study of the move from nationalism to transnational jihadism among segments of the Palestinian camps:

Bernard Rougier, "Everyday Jihad"

See also:

Sunni Radicalism in Lebanon

I think that there has been a shift among some Palestinians, particularly youth, who are disillusioned with the inability of any of the established Palestinian nationalist parties, secular or religious, to deliver a state or even an improvement of their living conditions. Together with the marginalization of Palestinians in Lebanon has opened the door to militant Salafism/takfirism.

Abu Guerrilla said...

I agree. He is clearly the best person on the subject. I was just in Sabra and Chatilia and wrote a blog post that basically came to the same conclusion.

At the very least, check out the pictures. I mean, wouldn't you look for "other options?"

إبن الصقلي said...

Thanks for sharing your post. It's on my reading list for tonight. The photographs are excellent.

I was in Lebanon ages ago (in 2003), but the camps were as depressing then as they look now.