As we saw in the previous installment of this short series on jihadis in the Gaza Strip, the leader of the Jama’at al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad, Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi, was pretty defensive about his organization’s actions in his answers to questions from visitors of the Shumukh al-Islam forum. The rest of his answers indicate that the group may have grandiose plans and plenty of enemies against whom these may be applied but that in the end they are not really capable of living up to their own rhetoric.
Interestingly, one of the things Abu al-Walid mentions as – unfortunately – being an impossibility is expanding his activities to the Sinai desert in order to give his organization more strategic depth. This is the case because of “the heavy security oppression on everyone who is thought to have even the slightest link to Jihadi-Salafism” (question no. 16). Recent attacks on Israel possibly coming from this area suggest that this situation may have changed. The revolution in Egypt has made the security situation in the Sinai desert less strict, perhaps allowing groups such as Abu al-Walid’s to obtain the breathing space they so desperately need. When answering his readers’ questions in late 2010, however, none of this had occurred yet. Nevertheless, they provide context for the group’s actions today: