Exclusive interview with Gaza's Army of Islam
Published today (updated) 19/05/2010 22:55
In the Gaza Strip, Ma`an reporter Ibraheem Qanan interviews Jaljalat leader
By Ibraheem Qanan
Gaza Ė Ma'an Exclusive- "Salafism is not only in Gaza, it is all over
Palestine and needs no license to practice in the heart of Tel Aviv or in
Washington," Jaish Al-Islam (Army of Islam) leader Omer Al-Ansari told Ma'an
during an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
"But enough about the movement, its time to move is subject to its men and
their ability to stand in the face of the tyrannies," Al-Ansari said from
his secret hideout and weapons store, settling in for an in-depth discussion
on the relationship of the movement to Al-Qaeda, tensions with the ruling
Hamas party, and its vision for the Palestinian national struggle.
Al-Ansari described movement as independent in both its make-up and method,
saying it had its own path to reach goals that are similar to Al-Qaeda,
while at the same point having its own visions and policies in relation to
"Jihadist issues in general and Palestine in particular."He called the
affiliation as "more moral than financial."
Followers and operatives of Jaish Al-Islam and other Salafist movements, the
leader said, have been "killed imprisoned or placed under house arrest." He
said the movements were "being chased, terrorized or were threatened,
conspiracies coalitions were set up against them.Ē
Many of the founding leaders, he added, "the sheikhs and the scholars, have
been killed, captured or displaced."
On resistance, Al-Ansari appeared to fall in with the official Hamas line,
saying that the "explosions that are happening in Gaza are political in the
first place with the main mission of creating a state of security chaos,"
but accusing the leading party of using the chaos to operate under an
"undeclared law of emergency," and to scuttle any opposition.
He said a truce with Israel, the liberation of Islam's holy places, freedom
granted to prisoners, and an end to the occupation, "are all the same case."
Al-Ansari then sat down and answered a series of questions relating to the
Q: Army of Islam, what does it mean? Who are you? What are your goals?
A:Army of Islam is an Islamic group that lives among the unbelievers:
Israelis and Christens. It does not have a producer, or founder, nor date of
creation or expiry date. The movement extracts understanding and action from
the Qur'an and the Sunna.
Its goal is divided into two parts, the first: preaching the mission of
prophets and his messengers, sharing the reasons why Allah sent messengers
and holy books based on Tawheed (Oneness) and rejecting atheism.
The second, Jihadist: This does not follow preaching and does not precede
it, anyone who declares Islam is from the Muslims.
Q:In a previous interview with a leader of a Salafi group, he estimated that
the number of affiliates to Salafism, and specifically Jund Ansar Allah, was
some 11,000. What do you think of this number? Has there been a real
A: The Salafi method has proven itself when all failed in attempts to kill
its affiliates. We have established coalitions.
Q: To what extent is Army of Islam is linked to Al-Qaeda?
A: Army of Islam is in general is linked with the entire Muslim world, and
we are supported in carrying out Jihad against enemy nations, against the
Israelis, against the Christians and against Muslim rejectionists in
Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Coalitions between our groups add
little in terms of support or advice.
Concerning the organizational link, Army of Islam is an independent group,
entity and method, it has its own path and mechanism to reach its goal,
which are similar to Al-Qaeda, but has its own vision and policy especially
in relation to Jihadist issues in general and in Palestine in particular.
Q: What is the nature of the relationship with other Salafi groups? Why they
are not united?
A: Each of the Salafist group has its own path to reach what is agreed on.
Q: It was said that the Army of Islam's Tawheed brigades and those of Jihad
are the most extreme of the Salafist groups? Is this correct? Is it true
that Army of Islam believes in change by force?
A: One who does not understands Islam in the right way and is not able to
understand the Salafi method [may say this].Islam is a whole and
indivisible, anyone who separates "extremist" from others has been affected
by western civilization.
Using force has conditions and religious regulations. It is best to balance
mercy and force, this is what we teach men following the Salafist way.
Q: Who are the scholars you rely on? Do you have Sheikhs here in Palestine
or abroad? Who are the most important scholars whom you rely on read their
books and Fatwas listen to their advice?
A:Most of the scholars we relied on were either killed, imprisoned or chased
away. The jails are full of them.
Q : Some say that you will not be able to be an alternative to other
Palestinian factions? What do say to that?
A: Islam was not an alternative for those who lived before it. All of the
Palestinian factions had all production date, a country of production and a
founder. They have a best before date and most have expired. They only exist
in the memory of history.
Q: Are you going to continue with resistance? Or are you committed to the
A: Islam does know resistance in its modern incarnation. Allah legitimized
Jihad for his sake in defense of his religion. Resistance today is limited
within geographical borders that ends with the liberation of meters of land
which men are left behind to share. This is nothing of Islam, it is only a
reiteration of the Sykes-Picot agreement and the recognition of borders.
Islam does not recognize this issue that works on getting justice for all,
instead of dealing with unjust religions and rulers.
The truce should be applied for all Muslims by those authorized to declare
it according to the basics and rules of Sharia, not according to the rules
of parties and their private interests. This applies in any place, but for
Palestine, because it is an Islamic Waqf (site left for the heritage of
Islam), it not only belongs to Palestinians but to all Muslims, and no
Palestinian has the right to speak on its behalf.
Anyone who holds a truce with the Israelis before liberating the holy sites
and ending the occupation and releasing the prisoners is a guard for the
enemy and supports the Israelis and the Christians.
Q: Salafist groups are accused of using Gaza and the situation to their
advantage. Why don't we didnít hear about you in the West Bank and inside
the Green Line?
A: We exist everywhere, with permits or without we are in Tel Aviv and in
Washington too. We are not just in Gaza.
Q: You have been accused of perpetrating bombings, attacks on internet
cafes, salons and other places. Have you?
A: Attacking with explosives creates a state of alert and security chaos.
There are some parties that take advantage of this.
Q: It is known that the Salafist Jihad support Al-Qaeda. Is this true?
A: We do not comment on the methods or acts of Al-Qaeda. We cannot judge
them positively or negatively. We apply Islam and we have no modern
philosophical thinking like the Christian Church.
It is important to know that the Islam is not divided and the community
knows the Qur'an very well and they can understand us.
Q: what is your attitude toward Christians living in Gaza?
A: Christians in Gaza are separated into two categories. There are the ones
who are good, who cause no problems for the community. They will always be
protected. But there are the ones who drink alcohol and spread prostitution.
Those are the ones targeted and rejected from Gaza.
There is no doubt that there is hatred between Christians and Muslims in
Gaza. This is because many Christians get money from Churches, while others
canít find anything to eat.
Q: Describe your relationship with Hamas. Have you made special agreements
A:The problem is not in the form or the nature of the relationship. The
problem is that Hamas has decided to deal with modernity, and they chose the
path of democracy; thus dealing with the western world. Thus creates a gap
between us and them.
They are preventing the brigades from fighting against Israel. This is proof
they are fully aware of what they do. They are divided, and imposing a
divided and unfair policy.
Q: There is a lot of concern about Salafism in Palestinian society. Can you
give people any reassuring words, especially regarding personal freedoms?
A: Islam has a great message of justice, equality and freedom to all
Islam is the greatest religion for military, politics, economy and society.
Unfortunately many tend to corrupt Islamic society using the name of
democracy and freedom.