A child killed by Hamas forces in the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque
Reuters, August 16, 2009
Jihadists executed by Hamas operatives
The Ibn Taymiyyah mosque
Al-Quds website, August 16, 2009
1. On the afternoon of August 14 in Rafah, a violent confrontation broke out near the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque between Hamas forces and jihadi-Salafist operatives. Prominent among them were members of the Jund Ansar Allah network, which is affiliated with the global jihad. The battle took place in a densely populated area.
2. According to a report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (August 15), 28 people were killed, more than 100 wounded and more than 100 detained (including some of the wounded). Among the dead were jihadi-Salafist operatives, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives, Hamas policemen and civilians who were in or near the mosque at the time. Considerable damage was done to the mosque itself and to adjacent buildings. The battle was moved from Rafah to the Sabra neighborhood in southern Gaza City where the Dugmush clan, affiliated with the Army of Islam, has its stronghold.
3. In suppressing the jihadi-Salafists at the mosque Hamas employed great military force from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Despite its efforts at concealment, Hamas opponents managed to record conversations held through the communications system by the military force operating in the area and to use cell phones to photograph executions carried out by Hamas. The recordings and pictures were uploaded onto radical Islamic Internet forums, on sites affiliated with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, and even broadcast on Israeli TV. They provide rare, first-hand evidence of the brutality used by Hamas in dealing with its opponents in the Gaza Strip, even if it means killing civilians or attacking Islamic symbols like the mosque named for Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah.2
4. The following findings come communications held by operatives of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades who fought the jihadi-Salafists. It is in accordance with much other evidence about the events. [Note: The recording is from the PalPress website, originally downloaded from Islamic forums, August 24, 2009]:
i) The orders to deal with jihadi-Salafist operatives without consideration for civilian life: One of the senior commanders [apparently in the vicinity of Sheikh Abd al-Latif Musa’s house] sounds eager to deal with the sheikh and the jihadists as quickly as possible: "Get him out of there! Get him out of there! Anyone who wants to die can die. Let’s get this over with.” He is answered, "First aid [workers] found civilians inside. Wait a second.” Nevertheless, the commander continues issuing orders urging his men not to hesitate and to deal with the jihadists.
A child killed by Hamas forces in the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque (Picture from an Islamic forum, http://www.benaa.com/Read.asp?PID=1502026&Sec=1, August 20, 2009).
ii) Searches of ambulances evacuating the wounded and detentions of the wounded: A senior commander instructs his operatives to search every [Red] Crescent ambulance which left the street [where the sheikh’s house was located]. The ambulances were evacuating the wounded. Apparently some of them were detained by Hamas (Note: According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights report the Hamas police detained jihadists who were wounded in the fighting).
iii) The elimination of Sheikh Abd al-Latif Musa, nicknamed "the pig:” The commander of the force besieging Abd al-Latif Musa’s house reported that the sheikh was inside on the top floor. Hamas operatives sounded eager to eliminate him. In the middle of the conversation a report was received that "the house completely collapsed.” According to another report, "Allahu akbar, praises to Allah. The house of the pig Abd al-Latif Musa has been blown up.” (They also mentioned the house of the "impure one,” Abu Ibrahim, next to that of the sheikh. They may have been referred to Khaled Banath, the military commander of Jund Ansar Allah. )
The ruins of Sheikh Abd al-Latif Musa’s house in Rafah, blown up by Hamas (Reuters, August 16, 2009).
The sheikh died inside. Nearby civilian houses were also damaged.
iv) RPGs launched at civilian houses: Two RPGs were fired at [civilian] residences next to the house of Abd al-Latif Musa because jihadists had taken cover in them; the area is densely populated. An order was also given to fire four rockets at a building to which jihadists had fled. "Good hits” were reported. The order was also given to search "carefully and watchfully” houses adjacent to the sheikh’s to discover if they contained tunnel openings.
v) The elimination of jihadists: An order was given to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives near the sheikh’s house to advance to the houses where jihadists had sought refuge, and the commander in place answered: "We do not want to advance even one step. Keep shooting at them until they crawl out and take their clothes off. We don’t want a single one of them [left alive].” [Note: On August 25 Israeli Channel 2 TV broadcast a video documenting Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives executing jihadists.]
Jihadists executed by Hamas operatives
(Photo courtesy of Israeli Channel 2 TV, Ehud Yaari reporting, August 25, 2009).
Photographs of dead jihadists, apparently taken with a cell phone,
posted on an Islamic forum (August 16, 2009).3
vi) RPGs fired directly at the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque, especially the minaret: According to Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades communications system, special attention was to be paid to the minaret of the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque. It was later stated that a rocket was deliberately fired at the minaret, in which there were jihadists who had not shown any resistance [Note: Photographs of the mosque after the battle show serious damage, especially to the minaret.)
The Ibn Taymiyyah mosque after the battle. The damage to the minaret is clearly visible
(Reuters, August 16, 2009).
vii) Hamas’ attempt at concealment: During the fighting an order was given to the local commander to "make sure that no one takes pictures, not with a cellular [phone] or with anything else.” According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights report, the Hamas police closed off the area where the fighting was going on as well as the main hospital in the city [Rafah], and forbade access to journalists. As a result, the media in the Gaza Strip, including Western news agencies, had difficulties in sending pictures from the battlefield, especially pictures of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives eliminating their opponents. Nevertheless, opponents of Hamas managed to document the executions by taking pictures with their cell phones and by listening to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ communications network, and to disseminate evidence via the Internet.4
Left: The censoring green hand of Hamas blocks the lens of a television camera; the inscription reads "Taking pictures is not allowed.” Right: The mosque in Rafah where the fighting against the jihad networks took place, with a chunk taken out of the minaret (Al-Quds website, August 16, 2009). Behind the cartoon is Hamas’ effort to hide the damage done to an Islamic symbol and the execution of Islamic jihad operatives by its forces.
1 For further information see our September 1, 2009 bulletin "Hamas steps up its struggle against the global jihad-affiliated networks trying to challenge its control of the Gaza Strip” at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e080.pdf. The full study is available in Hebrew and is being translated into English.
2 Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah was a 14th century theologian and Islamic exegete. Although his views are considered conservative, his writings serve as the basis for the ideology of various radical Islamic movements, among them Al-Qaeda. They also served to develop the conservative Wahhabi school of Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia. He is considered an extremely important religious authority, whence the honorary title Sheikh Al-Islam.
4 In the recent events in Iran as well, pictures uploaded to the Internet from cell phones played a key role in documenting the anti-regime protests, circumventing the restrictions placed on the institutionalized activity of foreign and local correspondents.