Letter By ISIS Fighter To Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Reveals ISIS Ties To “Palestinians”
Exclusive: Letter By ISIS Fighter To Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Reveals ISIS-Sinai’s Ties To Hamas
The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
On February 24, 2016, a letter from an Islamic State (ISIS) fighter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was posted on social media. In it, the fighter strongly protests the close ties and cooperation between ISIS’s Sinai province and Hamas, particularly Hamas’s military wing.
This letter is the first confirmation of ties between the two organizations that comes from ISIS itself, and a unique firsthand account of the nature of these ties. It appears that the document was not meant for circulation outside ISIS, and to have been leaked by Al-Qaeda supporters.
The letter is by ISIS fighter Abu ‘Abdallah Al-Muhajir, who presents himself as a Gazan who joined ISIS in Syria. He writes that he decided to appeal to Al-Baghdadi in order to fulfill his duty as a Muslim to give loyal advice to the leader of the Muslims. His letter is based on his own personal knowledge from his time in Gaza, as well as on information provided to him by other fighters who came to Syria from the Gaza Strip.
With regard to the ties between Hamas and ISIS’s Sinai Province, Abu ‘Abdallah explains the areas in which the groups collaborate: ISIS fighters in Sinai are smuggling weapons into Gaza for Hamas; Hamas is producing weapons and explosive devices for ISIS Sinai; Hamas is providing logistical assistance to ISIS Sinai, including communications systems and hospitalization for its wounded fighters in Gaza; and ISIS Sinai officials are visiting Gaza and dining at the homes of Hamas government and military wing officials.
Abu ‘Abdallah says that he considers these Hamas-ISIS Sinai ties a violation of the principle of loyalty to the Muslims and rejection of non-Muslims (Al-Walaa Wal-Baraa), stating ISIS considers Hamas a movement that has betrayed Islam and that as such there is no justification, even on the pretext of tactical, operational, and logistical necessity, for maintaining ties with it.
ISIS Sinai province displaying weapons training. Source: Telegram.me/HaiAlaElJehad5, February 6, 2016.
Noting that what motivated him to take the unusual step of writing directly to Al-Baghdadi was the rising rage and frustration among ISIS supporters in Gaza who feel abandoned by the ISIS leadership and by ISIS Sinai, Abu ‘Abdallah expresses harsh criticism of ISIS Sinai for its warm relationship with Hamas. Hamas, he says, is persecuting and torturing ISIS loyalists, and adds that the disconnect between ISIS supporters in Gaza and ISIS Sinai itself is so great that the Gaza jihadis are now questioning the sincerity of ISIS Sinai’s loyalty to ISIS itself and are hesitant to join with it.
Abu ‘Abdallah’s letter caused a stir among ISIS supporters, particularly in Gaza, both because of its content and because such a direct appeal to ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi had been posted online. A group of pro-ISIS media activists in Gaza, Al-Nusra Al-Maqdisiya, which publishes and disseminates pro-ISIS materials on social media. responded to the letter’s publication; however, it denied neither Abu ‘Abdallah’s claims in the letter, nor the details he gave about the Hamas-ISIS Sinai relationship. It was merely enraged because he mentioned the group his the letter.
Following are excerpts from the letter:
Abu ‘Abdallah: If ISIS Sinai Maintains Its Ties With Hamas “We Will All Regret The Disaster That Will Befall Us In Sinai”
Abu ‘Abdallah begins his letter by explaining that what ISIS Sinai is doing in its ties with Hamas is serious and could lead to disaster: “A complaint by a soldier in the [Islamic] State to the Caliph of the Muslims, against the actions of the brothers in Sinai Province. An urgent letter from Abu ‘Abdallah Al-Muhajir to our commander and Caliph of the Muslims Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, may Allah protect him.
“The Prophet said: ‘The religion is sincere advice’… which is why I seek Allah’s aid in writing and disseminating this urgent and highly important letter, which has in it serious matters that must be addressed, and ended, by Sheikh Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State leaders. For by Allah, if these things continue and persist, we will all regret the disaster [that will befall] us in the beloved land of Sinai, which is the most important and powerful [Islamic] State province outside Iraq and Syria.
“This is a letter from your son Abu ‘Abdallah Al-Muhajir, and in it are matters that I have experienced during my presence on Gaza soil, as well as matters about which the brothers [in Gaza] wrote to me after I joined [the fight] in Syria, and matters that I learned from brothers who emigrated to Syria and Iraq before I did. I recoiled from writing [the letter], and consulted with my immigrant brothers, and we agreed to publicize what we know, while the brothers in Gaza advised me to say these things secretly and not write publicly for fear of the response of the brothers in Sinai province. But matters have reached a point where it is no longer possible to remain silent, and providing advice in secret would not have helped. Silence in the face of what is happening would have made us the devils of silence, and silence is betrayal of Allah, His messenger, and the Caliph of the Muslims.
“Oh, Caliph of the Muslims, I wish to speak to you about an issue related to the foundations of the religion and the tenets of the faith – Al-Walaa Wal-Baraa [loyalty to Muslims and rejection of non-Muslims], for which the blood of thousands of Islamic State jihad fighters has been spilled. For the sake of this principle, we are hostile towards the entire world, we are withstanding a war waged against us by the whole world, and even by some who claim to be jihad fighters.
“[But] even after all these great sacrifices, some brothers come along and destroy [the principle of] Al-Walaa Wal-Baraa, on weak pretexts and for reasons unbecoming of any jihad fighter who belongs to this mighty state.
“I speak to you today about the suspect and illegitimate ties between Sinai province and Hamas, which are hidden from no one. What I will write about now is based on two main things:
“1. After a period of being in Syria, I have learned that the Islamic State considers Hamas, with all its branches and wings, to be an apostate movement, and that it treats it as an apostate cult, including [the ‘Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam [Brigades, Hamas’s military wing]. This is known to all the brothers here in Syria and Iraq.
“2. The second thing is the internal memos coming from the [Islamic] State leadership ruling that many factions in Syria are apostates, including for collaborating with apostates and for transferring weapons to them or maintaining a relationship with them.”
ISIS Sinai province fighters undergoing military training. Source: Telegram.me/HaiAlaElJehad5, February 6, 2016.
“Sinai Province Is Smuggling Weapons For Hamas In Gaza”
Abu ‘Abdallah then explains the ties between ISIS Sinai and Hamas, and tells why he thinks they are a violation of the tenets of loyalty:
“Allow me, Caliph of Muslims, to inform you of some aspects of the suspect ties between Sinai province and Hamas:
“1. Sinai province is smuggling weapons for Hamas in Gaza, because of the province’s fighters’ expert knowledge of the [smuggling] routes from Libya, Sudan, and Egypt.
“2. Sinai province depends very much on Hamas and Al-Qassam for weapons and for explosives and ammunition. There are direct and continuous supply routes from Hamas to Sinai province. The Al-Qassam factories operate assembly lines for manufacturing explosive devices and bombs for the Sinai province, but do not stamp the Al-Qassam logo on them, as they usually do.
“3. Sinai province leaders are regularly visiting the Gaza Strip, and holding cordial meetings with Hamas and Al-Qassam leaders, even [Hamas] government [representatives]. Animals are slaughtered for them, feasts are held, and they are embraced in Gaza.
“4. Hamas and Al-Qassam are accepting all wounded Sinai province [fighters], and they are treated in Gaza Strip hospitals under Al-Qassam’s direct protection.
“5. Hamas is providing wireless communication hubs for Sinai province, because of the difficulty of operating them in Sinai and because they are vulnerable to swift destruction by the Egyptian army.
“[Hypothetically,] if we disregard the religious dimension, and Al-Walaa Wal-Baraa, we would be able to say that Sinai province benefits greatly from these ties, and that the province is being clever and devious in order to attain power and ammo from Hamas, for fighting the infidel [Egyptian President] Al-Sisi. However, in truth, and viewing things on a shari’a level, the province is committing several religious transgressions… among them:
“1. Violating the principle of loyalty to jihad fighters in Gaza and Islamic State supporters [there], and abandoning them and handing them over to their apostate enemy (Hamas)…
“2. Violating the principle of rejecting Hamas, which has replaced the laws of Allah and rules Gaza with laws of unbelief, and of [rejecting] the Al-Qassam Brigades, [which is] this government’s violent aggressive force. I was shocked when I discovered here in Syria that the Islamic State treats the Hamas government and movement, and the Al-Qassam Brigades, as apostates. Where, then, does Sinai province stand on this?
“3. Strengthening the apostates and making it easier for weapons to reach them by smuggling weapons to Hamas via Sinai province land, even using the province’s
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