Presented without commentary:
"Palestinian Gaza Ansar al-Sunnah leader Al-Maqdisi elaborates ideology."
BBC Monitoring International Reports (Sept 5,Text of report by Saudi-owned leading pan-Arab daily Al- Sharq al-Awsat website on 20 August
[Interview with Abu-Hamzah al-Maqdisi, by Kifah Zibun, from Ramallah: "Abu-Hamzah Al-Maqdisi to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: We Are Not Takfiris, and We Are Proceeding with the Establishment of an Islamic Emirate"]
Since Hamas's declaration of an open war against the leaders of the Salafi jihadi groups in Gaza Strip after the killed leader of Jund Ansar Allah Group, Abd-al-Latif Musa, announced the establishment of an Islamic Emirate in Rafah, many questions are waiting for answers: Who are these people? What do they want? Whom do they follow? What is the truth about their being takfiris? What is their view of the other?
Hamas accuses them of being misguided and takfiris, and of wreaking havoc in Gaza by explosions that have harmed a number of shops and institutions. The Palestinian [National] Authority [PNA] has dissociated itself from them, and the other factions have adopted a stance of neutrality or silence towards them. Even Al-Qa'idah, whose course inspires the course of these Salafi jihadi groups, has not declared its stance towards them yet. The best ones to answer such questions are the leaders of these groups. Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Ramallah, through a trusted mediator, has been able to contact one of the most prominent leaders of the Ansar al-Sunnah Group in Gaza, namely Abu-Hamzah al-Maqdisi.
Abu-Hamzah says that the Salafi groups in Gaza Strip have emerged from the womb of the Islamic factions there, and he rejects the accusation of being takfiris. He admits that they carried out internal explosions in the Gaza Strip, but he names members of [Izz-al-Din] Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing, and says that they carried out explosions without being held to account by anyone.
Al-Maqdisi stresses that they are proceeding with the establishment of the Islamic Emirate, and he leaves the door open for working with Al-Qa'idah. The following is the text of the interview, which was sent first in the form of written questions to which he replied:
[Zibun] When was the first Salafi group established in Gaza?
[Al-Maqdisi] The first Salafi group was established in the middle of 2005 under the name of Jaysh al-Islam, and it participated in the Dispelled Illusion operation in which Zionist Soldier Jil'ad Shalit was kidnapped. Then other groups emerged after Hamas participated in the legislative elections, and with the tightening of the siege on Gaza other groups started to appear, such as Jaysh al-Ummah, Al-Tawhid wa Al-Jihad, and other groups. Most of these groups include members of the Islamic factions, such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other military wings operating in Gaza, and also members of Jaysh al-Islam after the massacre carried out by Hamas against the Daghmash family. Our brother, Muhammad al-Ansari was one of the senior members of that family, and was leading Jaysh al-Islam, and most of the members of the group were from that same family. After the massacre, the members of the groups joined various other Salafi jihadi groups.
[Zibun] What is the definition of a "Salafi group," and what is the difference between it and a "Salafi jihadi group?"
[Al-Maqdisi] Salafi means linked to the good predecessors, the companions of the Prophet, God's prayer and peace be upon him, who are the people of the Sunnah and the collective Muslims. This is a good link to the right course, and it is not calling for a new course. The Shaykh of Islam, Ahmad Bin-Taymiyah, God have mercy on his soul, says: "There is nothing wrong in someone holding high the thinking of the good predecessors, and belonging to this thinking. On the contrary, this is something to be favoured. The thinking of the good predecessors is nothing other than the true thinking of the Sunnis and the collective Muslims." The thinking of the Salafi group includes three great bases, which are: The Koran; the Prophet's Sunnah in words and in deeds, and with all that includes that came from God's Messenger, God's prayer and peace be upon him; and the course of the Prophet's companions, God be satisfied with them, and of the first three centuries. It is in Hadith that God's Messenger, God's prayer and peace be upon him, said "The best people are those in my century, after them are those in the next century, and then the people in the century after that." The difference between this Salafi way and the Salafi way of the guardians is that the latter has suspended the duty of jihad temporarily.
[Zibun] What is the number of the Salafi jihadi groups now? What are the most prominent ones? And what is number of your members?
[Al-Maqdisi] There are four groups, which are: Jund Ansar Allah, Ansar al-Sunnah, Jaysh al-Ummah, and Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad. There were other groups such as Jaysh al-Islam, which collapsed after the massacre committed by Hamas against it in Al-Sabrah District after the kidnapping of the British Journalist Alan Johnston. We refuse to divulge the number of our mujahidin. However, we stress that the Salafi groups include a large number of committed, Mujahid youths, who preserve the Koran and regularly pray in the mosques.
[Zibun] Hamas describes you as takfiris. How do you answer this?
[Al-Maqdisi] These are false accusations, which are rejected by Islam, and we reject them. We have not judged any of the sons of our people as infidel, and we are not allowed to judge as infidel anyone who says "There is no god other than God." If Hamas accuses us of this, I would like to tell Hamas's leaders what the Prophet of Truth, God's prayer and peace be upon him, said: "If anyone says to his brother you are an infidel, one of them will be so. If the brother is not an infidel, the description will revert to the one who said it." The Prophet also said: "Usamah, did you kill him after he said: There is no god other than God?" This is despite the fact that the man said it under the threat of the sword. The Prophet kept repeating the question to Usamah until Usamah said: "I wished that I had not converted to Islam until that day."
[Zibun] How do you view the Palestinian society in general, and the Christian society?
[Al-Maqdisi] The Palestinian society is one of the conservative societies, and it adopts Islam as its course. We beseech God Almighty to enable us to apply His Shari'ah on earth through the good and kind word. As for the Christian society, we ask God that they do not harm us, and we do not harm them.
[Zibun] Are you prepared to kill? What are the reasons for which you can kill a Muslim or a non-Muslim?
[Al-Maqdisi] Of course we are not prepared to do so. There are no reasons to put us in the difficult position of choosing between the justification of killing or not killing. Killing anyone without a just cause is prohibited and is not allowed by Shari'ah. We reject such method. However, to clarify the issue, there are situations, such as what happened in Rafah last Friday [14 August], when we are obliged to take the option of confrontation with all our strength to defend ourselves.
[Zibun] You are accused of carrying out explosions that included Internet shops, women's hairdressers, and Christian institutions. Is this true?
[Al-Maqdisi] This is not true. There are operations carried out by members of the Al-Qassam Brigades; they carried them out while they were working for the brigades. Also there are members of the guards of important personalities in Government. Why are these members not held to account? Why are all the explosions operations attributed to the Salafi groups? Here I am not denying our links with some of these deeds, but in many cases they are individual actions. The explosions committed by our members and which targeted some shops cannot be anything other than the repelling of corruption. These have been carried out after giving specific advice [to the proprietors] through various ways; the explosions are carried out at a very late hour so that we guarantee that there would be no one in the targeted place. These were very few cases.
[Zibun] What is your view of Hamas and its rule in Gaza?
[Al-Maqdisi] We have no political relations with Hamas or anyone else. We criticize its policies and the policies of the existing Palestinian governments in the bosom of Jerusalem, and we consider them to be governments that rule according to haphazard human-made laws.
[Zibun] How will you answer what happened to the Jund Ansar Allah Group?
[Al-Maqdisi] We are not at war with anyone. Our war is against the occupation, and we will not deviate from this. What happened last Friday, and what followed that of hunting down of the members of the Salafi groups of all nomenclatures is completely rejected by us. We emphasize that it is prohibited to shed Muslim blood, and to engage in internal fighting. We are waiting for our brethren of the Jund Ansar Allah Group to appoint a new Amir according to their consultations among themselves, and then we will communicate with the new leadership to confirm the general broad lines, which we will determine during the upcoming period for the stage of Islamic Emirate, and we confirm that we are proceeding with it.
[Zibun] From where do you receive financial support, and is it sufficient?
[Al-Maqdisi] We receive financial support from the Sunnis and collective Muslims and from the charitable people wherever they are in the bosom of Jerusalem and outside it. It is personal support, which is small; however, by God's grace we support ourselves with the resources we have.
[Zibun] Are the Salafi groups united? Can they be united?
[Al-Maqdisi] Before the events of last Friday, specifically before 9 Rajab, there were tireless efforts to unite the Salafi jihadi groups under the name of Jund Ansar Allah in the Bosom of Jerusalem, a real unity on the ground. The events of last Friday took place at the time when the practical steps were being taken to implement the practical stage of this operation.
[Zibun] What is the course you follow? Have you pledged allegiance to anyone outside Palestine?
[Al-Maqdisi] Our course is clear; it is an Islamic course. We derive our laws from Islamic Shari'ah and not from man-made laws. We consider fighting the Zionists and performing jihad against them as one of our most important priorities. Our priorities include the prohibition of violating the sanctities of the citizens, and the pursuit of spreading Islamic Shari'ah and its implementation through the good way for which Islam calls. Until now, we have not pledged allegiance to any Islamic or non-Islamic personality outside Palestine.
[Zibun] What is your ultimate aim for which you are working?
[Al-Maqdisi] Our aim is clear. It is to spread Islamic Shari'ah among the sons of our people through the ways for which Islam calls, to call for repelling evil, and to perform jihad against the Zionist enemy until -God willing -the liberation of the land of the Prophet's nocturnal journey.
[Zibun] What is the truth about your relations with Al-Qa'idah?
[Al-Maqdisi] I reiterate anew that until this moment we have no relations with Al-Qa'idah; however, this might happen in the future.
[Zibun] Have you recruited non-Palestinian fighters within your ranks?
[Al-Maqdisi] All the fighters who work within the Salafi jihadi groups in the bosom of Jerusalem are Palestinians.
[Zibun] Is it true that some of you were members of Hamas and Al-Qassam Brigades? Why did they leave these organizations?
[Al-Maqdisi] This is true, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are others from Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, and other organizations. There is the personal conviction that these factions operate according to policies that change from time to time on the basis of purely political interests and not on the basis of ideological grounds.
[Zibun] How do you view the Israeli occupation?
[Al-Maqdisi] We view it in the same way all the sons of our people view it. It is an aggressive enemy, and our duty is to perform jihad against this enemy by all means.
[Zibun] Do you have contacts with the PNA leadership in Ramallah?
[Al-Maqdisi] These are accusations levelled by the Hamas leaders in order to justify what Hamas had undertaken against Jund Ansar Allah Group. These are false accusations aimed at convincing the public opinion through the media rostrums of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and at distorting the image and reputation of the mujahidin, who have never relented in striking at the occupation wherever it is while Hamas is looking for calming down in order to preserve its entity in Gaza. Our convictions include the rejection of governments such as those of Hamas and those in Ramallah, because we consider that they rule according to man-made laws. Also there is difference in visions and views between us and these governments; how can we accept support from these governments that are loyal to the Jews, the crusaders, and others, and that welcome them in the blessed land of Palestine.
Source: Al-Sharq al-Awsat website, London, in Arabic 20 Aug 09 BBC Monitoring
Source Citation: "Palestinian Gaza Ansar al-Sunnah leader Al-Maqdisi elaborates ideology." BBC Monitoring
Gale Document Number:A207318873