Scene from a video showing two of the Tawhid wal-Jihad terrorist operatives killed in the attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border on June 18, 2012. Left: the terrorist calling himself Abu Salah al-Masri, from Egypt. Right: the terrorist calling himself Abu Hazifa al-Hudhali, from Saudi Arabia. They represented the terrorist attack as a double suicide bombing attack whose objective was to hurt the "Zionist enemy" on the "Egyptian-Palestinian" border. According to a different video, the two had recently returned from Libya where they fought in the ranks of the global jihad against Gaddafi's regime.
1.On June 18, 2012, a terrorist attack was carried out on the Israeli-Egyptian border which was supposed to include the detonation of a massive explosive device. An Israeli civilian was killed in the attack. A new umbrella network of Salafist-jihadi groups operating in the Gaza Strip calling itself The Shura Councilof the Mujahideen of Greater Jerusalem claimed responsibility for the attack. In reality, it was carried out by Tawhid wal-Jihad ("oneness and jihad"), a Salafist jihadi network which has been operating in the Gaza Strip since 2008. Its "emir" (leader) is an Al-Qaeda operative named Hisham Saidani, who in the past spent time in Jordan, Iraq and Libya (where he joined forces with global jihad operatives). In March 2011 he was detained by Hamas and released on August 2, 2012.
2. The shooting attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border, which, according to the statements of its perpetrators was supposed to be a suicide bombing attack, was the first successful terrorist attack in recent years by the global jihad networks operating against Israel from the Gaza Strip. The attack and the attack near the Kerem Shalom crossing in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed, were an indication of the efforts being made by the networks to use the Sinai Peninsula as a springboard for their attacks against Israel. To that end they exploit the rampant anarchy and chaos prevalent in Sinai. They are encouraged in their efforts by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's heir and current head of Al-Qaeda.
3. Global jihad networks operating in the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula seek to turn Sinai into an arena for intensive activity, relying on long-distance logistic support from countries like Libya (which after the fall of Gaddafi became an important source of weapons), North Sudan and Iraq. The Palestinian terrorist networks operating in the Gaza Strip have easy access to the local Sinai Bedouin tribes which have affiliated themselves with the global jihad and whose motives are both financial and ideological.
4. The June 20, 2012 Tawhid wal-Jihad attack joins the series of attacks against Israel carried out this past year from the Sinai Peninsula, an exploitation of the anarchy and Egypt's governmental difficulties the area. The most prominent attacks were the combined attack on a number of Israeli vehicle north of Israel's southernmost city of Eilat (August 18, 2011), the launching of three 122m Grad rockets targeting Eilat (the night of April 4, 2012), the June 18 attack and the shots fired at a bus full of IDF soldiers north of Eilat (July 22, 2012). The attacks were carried out by terrorist organizations known to be operating in the Gaza Strip (the most prominent of which is the Popular Resistance Committees) and by networks in the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula affiliated with the global jihad. The terrorist attack on August 5, 2012, in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed, can be added to the list.
5. Hamas generally tries to enforce its policy of restraint in terrorist attacks on organizations affiliated with the global jihad and on the rogue organizations operating in the Gaza Strip, although not often rigorously or with the determination it exhibits when its vital interests are challenged. On the other hand,Hamas tries to promote attacks of its own, keeping a low signature, and allows the other terrorist organizations to carry out similar attacks anonymously. One of the aspects of that policy is finding indirect routes to carry out attacks on Israeli soil through the Sinai Peninsula (rocket attacks, attacks on Israeli targets along the Israeli-Egyptian border, infiltrating or smuggling weapons into Israel). Hamas and the other terrorist organizations are careful to hide most of those attacks, and sometimes even deny their existence. They do so not to expose themselves to Israeli responses and not to complicate their relations with Egypt, especially now that Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood has been elected president.
6. Three appendices follow:
I) The June 18, 2012 attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border and the aftermath
II) Tawhid wal-Jihad in the Gaza Strip
III) Tawhid wal-Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula