TEL AVIV – Breitbart Jerusalem conducted an exclusive interview with a leader of the up-and-coming Iran-backed militia in the Gaza Strip, calling itself Al-Sabireen.
Inspired by Hezbollah, the most influential Shi’ite group in the region – which is funded by Iran – Al-Sabireen has won many hearts and minds among radical Gazans and is widely considered the next standard bearer in the so-called armed struggle against Israel. The group reportedly broke away from the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad.
Spokesmen for Al-Sabireen deny any affiliation with Shi’ite ideology, though they clearly ally themselves with Iran’s ideological and political stance, and the group’s symbols are similar to those of Hezbollah.
Gaza is dominated by Sunni Islam, although numerous Sunni terrorist groups are financially backed by Iran.
Last Friday, Al-Sabireen took responsibility for an attempted roadside bombing of an Israel Defense Forces patrol along the Gaza border.
In October, Israel reportedly eliminated an Al-Sabireen commander, Ahmed Sharif Al-Sarhi, blaming him for numerous cross-border shooting attacks.
Mahmoud Abu Alnada, a top commander in the organization and former Islamic Jihad militant, stressed in an interview the differences between Al-Sabireen and Iran. The interview was conducted in Arabic.
Asked about the group’s Shiite affiliations, Alnada says that his group is entirely Palestinian, and active on the political, social, cultural, and military fronts.
“Politically and ideologically,” he says, “we believe that Palestine, the whole of Palestine, should be liberated. Our goal is to unite all the Palestinian people behind the holy mission of liberating our land and frustrating the plans of the Zionist enemy in the region. We are open to all the sectors of Palestinian society that are engaged in liberating our holy land.”
At the organizational level, says Alnada, “We seek a central place in the Palestinian public debate and to implement our plan whereby the Palestinians, regardless of their organizational affiliation, engage in our goal: the liberation of Palestine.”
Asked about the group’s Iranian financiers, he says, “We maintain good relations with all of the streams and currents in Palestine and the Arab and Islamic world. We are proud of these good relations. We are funded by all the free men of the Arab and Islamic nation, who contribute generously to our goal of liberating Palestine.”
Although Alnada refrained from referring overtly to Al-Sabireen’s generous Iranian support – which makes it one of the wealthiest armed groups in the Gaza Strip despite its relatively small size – he says his organization is not Iran’s executive arm.
“We are a Palestinian organization. We are fully independent and act in the way that we see fit according to the reality on the ground,” he says. “We react to the crimes of the occupation and to its assault on innocent Palestinians. The free men of the Arab and Islamic world give us unconditional assistance.”
Q: Do you maintain a relationship with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and/or Hezbollah?
A: As I said before, we maintain good relations with everybody in Palestine and beyond. We have great relations with all of the forces, and we are proud of having supporters and sympathizers all over the Arab and Islamic world, including those you asked about.
We are not ashamed of maintaining a relationship with any Arab or Islamic power that supports our resistance until the liberation comes.
Q: Why did your group attempt a bombing attack against the IDF earlier this month?
A: We are an inseparable part of the “Al Quds Intifada” that has raged in the Palestinian territories in the past few months, and will never renounce our role in fighting against the criminal occupation of the Palestinian people and its assault on innocent people.
The bombing near the Zionist troops was a natural reaction to the recent escalation, and was meant as a message to the enemy that our struggle is not over until the land of Palestine is liberated in its entirety.
Q: You rely on Iranian support while they are accused of engaging in a religious war against Sunnis, and some say that you are used as a tool to propagate Shi’ite Islam. What is your response?
A: For us, Iran is a member of the Islamic nation and is just one country supporting us in our struggle for liberation from the grip of the Zionist enemy. Some people make bogus claims that only play into the hands of the Zionists.
Regarding our so-called role in propagating Shia, these allegations are not new and come from terrorist groups and organizations that take Islam’s name in vain. Our goal is military and we espouse no sectarian ambitions or agenda.
Q: What is your take on the war in Syria?
A: It is a criminal war into which all the forces of evil in the world have injected terrorist groups with a view to divide the Islamic world, mostly in order to stymie the resistance against the region’s malignant tumor – the Zionist entity.
The Zionists are the only ones who benefit from the war in Syria. We are convinced that the Syrian government and people can defeat these terrorists and return peace and security to the country that has done so much for the Palestinian resistance.
Q: How are your relations with Gaza’s Hamas rulers?
A: Good in the same way that our relationship will all of the Palestinian factions is good. We operate in full coordination with them and, despite some friction here and there, we are committed to maintaining good relations with Hamas and the other factions.
Q: What is your take on the Islamic State?
A: No comment.