The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
Salafi-jihadi groups in the Gaza Strip have recently launched Twitter fundraising campaigns to finance their activities, with the stated goal of purchasing weapons and ammunition, paying jihad fighters' salaries, financing military activity, and otherwise aiding in waging the war against Israel. The campaigns remind supporters that the "money jihad" is religiously important and propagate the idea that while it is not equal to active participation in jihad, assisting the jihad via financial contributions is still a religious obligation. Gaza jihadi groups are also using Twitter to provide information for contacting the campaigns and for donating via other services such as Skype, Whatsapp, Gmail, and the Telegram messenger app. The campaigns have been endorsed by online jihadi activists.
The following are two major Twitter fundraising campaigns for Gaza Salafi-jihadis:
The Nafir Al-Aqsa Campaign
The Nafir Al-Aqsa ("Mobilizing For Al-Aqsa") campaign was launched on Twitter (@nafeeraq) on November 1, 2014. Those behind the campaign do not identify themselves with any group, but the endorsements received clearly show that they are associated with pro-Islamic State (ISIS) elements in Gaza. The campaign's Twitter account promotes its Skype and Gmail addresses, and encourages supporters to contact it through the Telegram messenger app, which encrypts messages. The phone number provided uses the 970 Palestinian Authority country code.
In a series of tweets, the campaign administrators explained the campaign's goals and why the campaign is necessary. A November 1, 2014 tweet read: "The campaign aims to equip the Jerusalem [area] mujahideen striving to raise the banner of monotheism, repel the Jews' aggression and liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque. Your brothers, the lions of monotheism [Salafi-jihadis] in Jerusalem [area] and Gaza, have suffered greatly due to the shortage of funds which [in turn] led to shortages in military equipment and procurement, and as a result of which many operations were cancelled. In the recent war on Gaza, your brothers had difficulty providing money for meals before and after the [day's] Ramadan fast, let alone for [purchasing] military equipment and ammunition. Sadly, most of the Sunni-provided support goes to the nationalist groups, while your brothers sometime cannot [even] afford to bury their martyrs."
Nafir Al-Aqsa campaign poster providing contact details on Gmail, Twitter, and Skype.
In a November 3, 2014 communiqué announcing the launch of the Nafir Al-Aqsa campaign, the campaigners quoted at length Koranic verses and hadith sayings stressing the religious importance of donating money for jihad. They wrote: "For that reason, every Muslim should support Allah's religion without delay and protect the mujahideen's back with his soul, his money and with any means at his disposal. If, my Muslim brother, you are incapable of being a mujahid in Jerusalem [area], the site where Allah's Prophet ascended [to heaven], the Muslims' first direction of prayer, then know that you have brothers in Palestine who have made a pact with Allah to march on the path of jihad until they attain Allah's promise to the righteous who wage jihad on his behalf. Don't be stingy with your money and be among the first to do good."
Nafir Al-Aqsa campaign poster: "The cost of equipping a mujahid –$2500"
With regard to the campaign's actual goals, they wrote: "Your brothers, the mujahideen, launched the Nafir Al-Aqsa campaign to equip the mujahideen in Jerusalem [area], as this blessed campaign aims to prepare jihad operations and martyrdom-seeking operations that will target the Jews and repel their aggression from the people of Islam, striving to apply Allah's law and liberate Al-Aqsa mosque from the filth of the offending Jews, to make Allah's word reign supreme, and that of the unbelievers the lowest. Your brothers are announcing the start of the campaign's first stage, which seeks to equip 50 mujahideen at a cost of $2500 per mujahid."
Once the first stage is complete, the Twitter account says, the second stage will be announced. A monthly report with details and photos about the achievements and the purchases made possible by the donations that month is also promised.
Nafir Al-Aqsa has been endorsed by from multiple Twitter accounts associated with the Islamic State (ISIS). For example, on November 3, 2014, the Al-Nusra Al-Maqdisiyya account (@Bakoon7), operated by pro-ISIS activists in the Gaza Strip, urged Salafi-jihadis to donate to it and support it: "Notice: the Nafir Al-Aqsa campaign is a decent campaign supervised by a group of trustworthy men. Its goal is to equip the mujahideen in Palestinian for jihad on Allah's behalf."
The Madad Gaza Twitter Campaign
In mid-October 2014, the jihadi faction called Al-Ansar Salah Al-Din Brigades – Liwa' Al-Tawhid Battalions, operating in the Gaza strip within the Popular Resistance Committees, launched a fundraising drive to purchase weapons, equipment and supplies for its fighters. The Twitter account of the campaign, the Aid Campaign for the Gaza Mujahideen (@madd_gaza), asks Muslims to aid their brother mujahideen who are fighting in the Gaza Strip on their behalf.
The front page of the Twitter account begins as follows: "The account of the [fundraising] campaign belongs to your brothers in the Al-Ansar Salah Al-Din Brigades – Liwa' Al-Tawhid Battalions…. Contact via the Skype account madd-gaza and via Whatsapp at telephone number 00972598606027."
In a series of tweets, the account manager emphasized that contributions were important and constituted a religious obligation. On October 25, 2014, he wrote: "O money owner, the money is Allah's money and you hold it only in deposit. Don't forget that your brother mujahideen have a right to this money." Another Tweet on the same date read: "With the money that you contribute, we supply the mujahid with equipment and arms, with it we buy clothing, supplies and ammunition. This money is of manifold benefit. So hurry my brother and help your brothers." An October 25, 2014 tweet included a price list for various weapons, ammunition, and supplies, to show what can be bought with the donations: "Kalashnikov [assault rifle] – $1900, four hand grenades – $14, four empty ammunition clips – $14, 120 bullets for a Kalashnikov – $2.5 we need [equipment) for 100 fighters".
Poster showing the cost of various weapons and ammunition