New Salafi Jihadi Group in Gaza: The Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade
17 June 2015
By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
A new group in Gaza calling itself the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade claimed credit
for rocket attacks on Ashkelon in late May. Omar Hadid was a key figure in the
early years of Iraq's insurgency, aligned with al-Qa'ida in Iraq leader Abu
Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. Indeed, his name was already being used in Islamic State of
Iraq material in 2006.
The use of this name, along with the fact that the
brigade's video release uses two Islamic State nasheeds ("I am not content with
a life of humiliation" and "We have the swords"), should indicate the
orientation of this new Gaza-based group towards the Islamic State, similar to
other small pro-Islamic State outfits in the area like Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya
fi Bayt al-Maqdis.
The statement follows typical Salafi jihadi narrative in accusing Hamas of
collaborating with Israel, waging war on Salafi jihadis, torturing Salafi jihadi
detainees, stealing their weapons etc.. The statement emphasizes that these
Salafi jihadis have refused to be drawn into an internal confrontation that
Hamas is supposedly trying to provoke.
The ultimate point is that this Sheikh
Omar Hadid Brigade has chosen to direct its weapons at the Jews instead. The
statement concludes with demands for Hamas to (i) release Salafi jihadi
prisoners, (ii) stop engaging in media incitement etc. to provoke internecine
warfare and (iii) to restore the mujahideen's weapons and rights.
It should be noted that this statement comes in the context of some more recent
wider agitation from pro-Islamic State jihadis in Gaza, some of which, contrary
to what the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade makes out, appears to be targeting Hamas.
For instance, Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdisrecently
claimed an IED assassination of a member of the security forces of the "apostasy
government" (i.e. Hamas) in Gaza for engaging in the "declared war on the
Nonetheless, the same problem endures for these pro-Islamic State
groups that they are too small and divided to be accepted as official Islamic
State affiliates, even as some of them have helped smuggle Gazan fighters to the
Islamic State inside Iraq and Syria.