TEL AVIV – An al-Qaeda affiliate in the Gaza Strip has claimed responsibility for Friday’s rocket attack on Israel.
The group, called Ajnad Beit al Makdes (“The Soldiers of Jerusalem”), tweeted that “terror and fear spread among the Jews. This is only the beginning of the battle. Get ready for further retribution for what you’ve done.”
The tweet appears below:
— أجناد بيت المقدس (@ajnad_01) January 2, 2016
The organization pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and its leader Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor. As an organisation affiliated with al-Qaeda, its ideological and military tactics are different from the Islamic State’s.
A senior Salafi source told Breitbart Jerusalem that the group has been inactive over the past several years, as a result of a crackdown by Hamas security forces.
“Many of its activists started flocking to IS, but Friday’s attacks show that al-Qaeda hasn’t given up on the Gaza Strip, and is ready to put up a fight against IS to win the hearts and minds of young jihadists,” he said.
Gaza’s Salafi jihadists number in the hundreds, but IS’s prominent media coverage has attracted many of them. It is estimated that an overwhelming majority of them support IS, while no more that 70-80 ally with al-Qaeda.
Even if al-Qaeda invests more efforts in recruitment, the senior jihadist believes, “It will be very difficult to compete with IS, because of all the press it gets. Only a big operation against Israeli targets could turn the tide and reposition al-Qaeda as a force to be reckoned with.”