Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Art of the Martyr, Part II: Martyrs of the Mosque of Ibn Taymiyyah in Gaza

*Third in a series of posts related to my current research project, "The Art of the Martyr & Mujahid" (copyright). View the FIRST and SECOND posts. The third post should be viewed after reading two previous posts on the conflict between religion-nationalists and transnational jihadis in Palestine, HERE and HERE. The links are in chronological order.

Jund Ansar Allah's "martyred" spiritual guide, Shaykh 'Abd al-Latif Musa (Abu'l Nur al-Maqdisi),
with the gray-white beard.

The following posters depict, and indeed are dedicated (by the producers) to, the "martyrs" from Jund Ansar Allah (JAA) in its battle with security forces of the Palestinian religious-nationalist movement HAMAS, which governs the Gaza Strip. JAA is a small jihadi Salafi group operating in Gaza. On August 14, it fought a day-long battle with HAMAS security forces. Thirteen JAA members, including its spiritual guide and amir (leader), and five members of HAMAS' security forces, including a senior commander, were killed in the fighting. HAMAS was quickly and roundly condemned by jihadi Salafi groups and scholar-ideologues around the Middle East including al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (the North African affiliate of al-Qa'ida Central), the Islamic State of Iraq (an umbrella for several of the most radical jihadi Salafi groups operating in that country), and the Palestinian religious scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi. Please read the previously linked archived posts for more background information, as well as for a discussion of the significant differences between religious-nationalists and transnational radicals, particularly THIS POST.


"[The] Islamic Emirate of Gaza Remains," with photographs of the "martyred" JAA spiritual guide Shaykh 'Abd al-Latif Musa (more commonly referred to by his kunya, in this context a nom de guerre, Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi) and the "martyred" founder of al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers/Iraq (AQI), the Jordanian Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi.

NOTE: The term "jihadi" is a much-contested and often problematic one. "To struggle" (ja-ha-da) in Arabic has several connotations, and can refer to both physical and spiritual struggle. It can also have a militaristic meaning, which is how I use it on Occident. After much consideration I have decided to use the term, despite its potential problems. I have done so because the movements, such as al-Qa'ida Central and its affiliates, use the term to describe themselves. They of course do not use "jihadi" as a noun, and instead use the noun form of the Arabic root, "mujahideen/mujahidun," which translates approximately to "those who struggle for faith." Given my use of "jihadi" primarily in its militaristic sense, I translate "mujahideen" as meaning, approximately, "warriors of faith."

"Amir of the Islamic Emirate, the Martyr (by God's permission), 'Abdullah al-Latif Musa (Abu'l Nur al-Maqdisi), One of those martyred in the battle of the Islamic Emirate of Bayt al-Maqdis
by HAMAS" (this is repeated for most of the others, too).

He, and all of the martyrs, are described as among "those counted with God"

*Bayt al-Maqdis is an Arabic name for Jerusalem, particularly the shrines of al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock

"The Martyr, 'Abd al-Rahman Musi"

"The Martyr, 'Abdullah 'Awad Allah"

"The Martyr, 'Abdullah Khalid Abu Banat (al-Suri, "The Syrian")"

"The Martyr, Ahmad Yusuf Washah (Abu Hafs al-Maqdisi)"

'Abd al-Latif Musa overlooking al-Aqsa Mosque, which is built over the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad arrived in Jerusalem during his mystical Night Journey.

"The Martyr, Fahd Musi (Abu 'Abdullah al-Maqdisi)"

"The Martyr, Jihad Dawhan (Abu Hafs al-Ansari)"

"O' Clients of Iran [HAMAS]"

Senior HAMAS leaders Isma'il Haniyeh (bottom left) and Khalid Mesh'al (bottom center) are shown meeting with Iranian leaders, including the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei, and Lebanese Shi'i leader and Hizbullah chief
Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah.

"Constellation of Martyrs, Islamic State of Palestine (May God Protect It)"

Shaykh 'Abd al-Latif Musa over al-Aqsa Mosque (left) and the scarred Mosque of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (right) in Rafah, the site of the HAMAS-Jund Ansar Allah battle on August 14.

"Amir of Jund Ansar Allah, the Martyr, Khalid Abu Banat (Abu 'Abdullah al-Suri, "the Syrian")"

"The Martyr, Mahmoud Abu Nada (Abu Hamza)"

"Confluence of Heaven: Martyrs of the Battle of the Islamic Emirate of Bayt al-Maqdis"

The Qur'anic verse at the top says that "those killed in the path of God (jihad) are not dead, nay they are alive with their Lord."

"The Martyr, Muhammad al-Natur (Abu Ja'far al-Maqdisi)"

"The Martyr, Zakariya al-Luqa, Lion of Jund Ansar Allah's Information Office"

"The Martyr, Ameen Abu Khawsah"

"The Martyr, Ra'id al-Bal'awi (Abu Mus'ab al-Tawhidi)"

Comparison of two martyrs heralded by jihadi Salafis, Shaykh 'Abd al-Latif Musa (left) and the deputy imam of the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) in Islamabad, 'Abd al-Rashid Ghazi, who was killed by the Pakistani government in 2007. HAMAS prime minister Isma'il Haniyeh (bottom left) and former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf (bottom right) are shown.

"Martyr of the Mosque"

Some of the membership of the small transnational jihadi Salafi groups such as Jund Ansar Allah that have emerged in Gaza are, according to some reports, drawn from disaffected younger cadres from established religious-nationalist groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Resistance Committees, and even HAMAS. In my research, these reports have been confirmed: I have found a number of posters and murals of JAA martyrs who are identified as being connected to or members of PIJ, such as Mahmoud Salah Abu Nada (who is identified as a "military amir," or commander, of PIJ's military wing, the al-Quds Brigades (or "Battalions," "Detachments"). I have also found quite a number of examples of Jund Ansar Allah and transnational jihadi visual media on the PIJ online forums. I have found several transnational jihadi visual media pieces on the HAMAS Arabic forums as well, though not for Jund Ansar Allah (quite a few dedicated to individuals in Chechnya).


Anonymous said...

No doubt numerous bottles of the finest malt whiskey were opened up in Israel over these two going at it.

Even if the growth of groups with increasingly transnational outlooks pose a long-term risk.

James Gundun said...

Jihadis aren't going to get far by denouncing Hamas, given that it just fought a war against Israel, but Hamas failing to turn JAA into its own advantage is somewhat surprising. JAA presented the perfect opportunity for Hamas to exploit in the international community - the message being the West could do worse than Hamas in Gaza and that Hamas can only contain the most radical elements for so long while the blockade exists. Instead it settled on touting its hold over Gaza, which should be expected anyway. Hamas is a confusing movement, both media savvy and media lazy. Hard to predict, thus the perfect subject for political scientists.