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Internal ISIS Document Sheds Light On Aid Hamas Gave To ISIS In Sinai

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

A recently-revealed document concerned with religious doctrine penned by an eminent ISIS cleric provides further evidence that the military wing of Hamas has provided significant aid to the ISIS branch in Sinai, Sinai Province. The short document also sheds light on the relationship between the two organizations and on the internal dispute among ISIS members with respect to that relationship. The document augments the knowledge that Hamas supplied weapons, money and logistic support to ISIS in Sinai, and that this was done with the knowledge of the ISIS leadership. At the same time it reveals another aspect of the opposition that the acceptance of assistance aroused among members of ISIS, both those in Sinai and those in leadership roles across the organization.[1]

The 11-page document is a religious opinion penned by the cleric Abu Maram Al-Jazairi, one of the most prominent of ISIS clerics, known for his extremist positions.[2] The date when the document titled "A Response to the Correspondence between the Brothers in Sinai and the Apostate Hamas" was composed is unknown, but it is likely that it was written at the height of relations between Hamas and ISIS in Sinai, perhaps sometime during 2015, prior to the crisis between the two organizations in late 2016.


Abu Maram Al-Jazairi. Screenshot from a video produced by ISIS Al-Raqqah Province in 2014 titled "A Message to the People of Algeria"

 

The document reveals that Al-Jazairi learned that operatives from the Sinai branch of ISIS were in contact with members of the Hamas military wing, and that he was asked to express his opinion about this. He affirmed that he personally saw the exchange of texts between ISIS in Sinai and Hamas. The fact that a cleric who was part of the ISIS bureaucracy was privy to these texts implies that the ISIS leadership was involved in the secret contacts between the Sinai branch and Hamas. Al-Jazairi enumerates the types of assistance provided by Hamas to ISIS: coordination with Hamas with respect to the transfer of weapons, both to and from [Sinai]; logistic support; financial support; supply of ammunition; and transfer of wounded to Gaza. In short, Al-Jazairi expressed strong reservations about these ties and about receiving assistance from Hamas, although he did rule that receiving weapons from Hamas could be permitted under certain conditions.

For a long time ISIS in Sinai maintained a thunderous silence where Hamas was concerned, and in that sense continued the approach taken by its previous incarnation, Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis. The ISIS position on Hamas is clear: As far as it is concerned, it is an infidel organization, for several reasons, among other things due to the fact that it did not impose Shari'a law in Gaza and because it participated in the Palestinian Authority elections in 2006. The members of the movement as well, including the operatives in its military arm, are viewed by ISIS as apostates. Naturally, they are not considered to be "original" infidels (kufar asliyun), like Jews, Christians, or members of other religions, but as Muslims who are apostates, for they have abandoned Islam (murtadun).

Therefore, according to Al-Jazairi, for ISIS to receive assistance from Hamas is forbidden in principle, since it means being helped by those who have spurned Islam, although as stated, he does permit the acceptance of weapons, under certain conditions. However, with respect to accepting money, logistic support, or help with manpower – in his opinion these are totally forbidden. He stresses that receiving assistance from apostates is worse than receiving assistance from infidels, since their rejection of their religion is considered more serious, for they chose to abandon Islam, and therefore accepting their help might be interpreted as condoning their ways.

Al-Jazairi is also disturbed by the fact that the representative of ISIS Sinai who oversaw the contact with Hamas did not declare to the representatives of the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades military wing that they are infidels. Furthermore, he expressed himself in a diplomatic manner which obfuscated the critical controversy between them, and he spoke in praise of fraternity, when it would have been fitting to denounce the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and their movement.

The opposition to contact with Hamas was expressed in an open letter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, which was written by an ISIS supporter in the Gaza Strip.[3]

Relations between ISIS Sinai and Hamas deteriorated in late 2016, when Hamas gave in to Egyptian pressure and began to reduce its cooperation with ISIS. In response, the ISIS leader in Sinai made explicit statements in which he designated Hamas and its members as apostates, essentially declaring war on Hamas. A year later ISIS in Sinai produced a video reiterating this stance and issuing threats against Hamas. The video also featured an execution of a member of ISIS accused of collaborating with the Palestinian organization.[4]

Al-Jazairi's document is divided into three parts: a discussion of whether it is permissible to accept assistance from infidels; a discussion about the issue of accepting assistance from apostates; a response to the correspondence with Hamas.

 

The following are translated excerpts from the document:

 


First and last pages of Abu Maram Al-Jazairi's document

 

Abu Maram Al-Jazairi: Accepting Assistance from Hamas Is the Same as Accepting Assistance from Infidels

At the beginning of the document, Al-Jazairi writes:

"After examining the correspondences between several Sinai brothers [ISIS operatives in Sinai] and the infidel Hamas movement, it emerges that the connection between the sides falls under the category of receiving assistance from infidels. [This assistance came in the form of] for example, coordination with them with respect to the transfer of weapons to and from [ISIS territory]; accepting logistic support, money and ammunition; the transfer of the wounded to them [for treatment in Gaza hospitals], and more. It appears that the brothers were overly active in this regard, whether in words or in deeds, and so they fell into many prohibitions, which will be specified below..."

In the first part, Al-Jazairi lists the different opinions among the clerics with regard to receiving assistance from "original" infidels, as opposed to assistance from apostate Muslims who abandoned their faith. He reviews the opinions of the Sunni schools of jurisprudence: the Maliki School forbids the acceptance of assistance from infidels, as does the Hanbali School. However, the Shafi'i and the Hanafi Schools maintain that this is permissible under certain conditions. Al-Jazairi opines that the position of those who forbid acceptance of such assistance is more well-grounded, and so it should be the principle around which the religious discourse of this issue should be structured, although one shouldn't rule out the possibility of permitting such assistance in extreme situations. He also notes that acceptance of assistance in the form of weapons is allowed, for there is a precedent for this in the Sunni tradition.



ISIS fighters brandish their weapons while riding a pick up truck south of Rafah

 

In A Case Of Extreme Neccessity Assistance May Be Accepted From Hamas

After making his point with respect to accepting assistance from "original" infidels, Al-Jazairi moves on in the second part of the document to consider the acceptance of assistance from apostates (murtadun). In his opinion, this is the religious doctrinal issue that should be taken into account with respect to contacts with Hamas:

Al-Jazairi explains that Muslim clerics did not debate the issue of accepting assistance from apostates in time of war, for their discussions took place in the context of administering an Islamic State, and they never imagined a situation such as the current reality in which there are governments which are led by people who have abandoned Islam, and that these apostates live undisturbed in the lands of Muslims. Furthermore, he stresses, "It is accepted that the heresy of the apostates is more severe and problematic than that of those who are 'original' infidels. The principle is that they should be fought and all connections with them should be severed, and one shouldn't reconcile with them or live in peace with them."

Despite this, it is permissible to reconcile or live in a state of non-war with such apostates, and even to accept assistance from them, in a reality such as that which pertains to ISIS in Sinai vis a vis the Hamas regime in Gaza:

"Some clerics of the Hanafi School permit agreeing to a contract with the apostates, or reconciling with them, when the situation is reduced to one of duress [in other words, for the Hanafi School as well the thing is forbidden in principle], if [the apostates] live in their own country where they are the uncontested rulers, like Hamas in Gaza, and the Muslims are anxious about being hurt by them, or don't have the power to fight them or to maintain a front to stand against them. The clerics have ruled that in cases of duress the prohibitions may be waived...

"It is possible that acceptance of assistance [from apostates] may be permitted in certain cases such as in the reality of Sinai and Gaza where a situation of duress pertains. In the same way, reconciliation with them may be permitted in a case of duress, since the reason for the prohibition against reconciling with or being helped by the apostates is one and the same. [The permission] results from the fact that the apostates live in a separate country from the land of Islam,[5] they share a common enemy and a common interest, specifically at this time when few are helping and many are standing on the sidelines. And this too, only under certain conditions: the brothers [ISIS operatives] must be prepared to defend themselves against potential treason [on the part of Hamas], they must be on alert for potential betrayal, the benefit of [receiving assistance] must unequivocally outweigh the potential damage that may be incurred, and it must be stipulated that [receiving the assistance] will cease when the benefit no longer exists...

"With respect to the issue of money and funding of activities, it is vital to examine the essence of the money that is taken from them. Is it given as support, and if so is the support conditional or unconditional? The political aspects of [accepting] the money must be examined, as well as the implications if the apostates are not offering unconditional support. The examination of the issue of money must be handed to the imam [ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi], may Allah protect him, and if this is not done it is a violation of his prerogative."

 

Criticism Of The ISIS Representative In Sinai Who Didn't Denounce The Hamas Members As Apostates In The Correspondence With Them

The third section of the document is concerned with the content of the text exchanges between representatives of Hamas and representatives of ISIS in Sinai. Al-Jazairi expresses displeasure with the style and content, and reprimands the ISIS representative for not explicitly declaring to the Hamas members that they are apostates:

"It is clear from the correspondence that whoever was responsible for the contact with them did not declare them apostates and did not declare before them that they have abandoned Islam, in addition to the fact that he reconciled with them...

"First it must be noted that the apostasy of the Hamas government is apparent and hidden from no one, least of all men such as the brothers in Sinai. On the contrary, they are the ones who are the most familiar with their [the Hamas members'] status since they are neighbors. I have already mentioned the reasons for the accusations of apostasy against Hamas in the book 'The Traitorous Muslims.' One cannot [avoid the declaration of Hamas members as apostates] with the excuse of it being an unknown status [in other words, it's obvious that Hamas members are apostates, and one can't use the justification that this is not known, since their deeds and words are known to all, specifically to ISIS operatives in Sinai].

"Following a meticulous review of the correspondence between the appointed representative of the brothers in Sinai and the ['Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the apostate Hamas government, on the face of it, it seems that the appointed contact person did not denounce them and did not declare them apostates, on the contrary: he was nice to them and befriended them. Moreover, this occurred when he is not in a position of duress or coercion, but rather he is in a place where Islam has power and in the land of jihad. Furthermore, Hamas needs the relationship and desires it more than the brothers do, for if it abandons this relationship the siege it is experiencing will be even tighter."

Abu Maram Al-Jazairi was enraged even further when, for the sake of diplomacy, the representative on behalf of ISIS in Sinai implicitly denied that its members regard Hamas leaders as apostates. He wrote:

"It is clear [that the ISIS member responsible for the contact] welcomed [his Hamas contacts] in peace, referred to them as dear brothers, related positively to their activity, prayed for them that Allah will not deny them their reward, referred to their dead as martyrs, said that collaboration between the two sides is good for the Islamic ummah and so on. Moreover, at the same time as we are discussing [the correspondence], a rumor spread that the brothers in Sinai declared Hamas as apostates. The representative of the brothers in Sinai condemned the leaders of Hamas for their 'claim' that the brothers declared them apostates [rather than acknowledging that Hamas leaders are indeed apostates], and called it an attempt to sully the relationship between the sides. The response from Hamas was that they hadn't heard that the brothers had declared them apostates, and that these were false statements intended to impede the relationship which is based on shared religion and values!!"

 

Al-Jazairi Urges ISIS Members To Liquidate Any Hamas Members Who Falls Into Their Hands

"In conclusion, I say that we are obliged to put before the brothers who are in contact with the apostate Hamas and to the commanders who stand behind them, that they must kill any of them that they can who are still alive. We must draw the attention of the brothers in command to the true understanding of the relationship between them and Hamas, the apostates, and to the proper mechanism of dealing with them, as explained above. [It should be clarified to the commanders] that they must declare before [Hamas] that they are apostates, to notify them that they have abandoned Islam, and to denounce them.

Written by Abu Maram Al-Jazairi"

 

 

[1] Telegram.me/ Al-Nadhir Al-' Uryan, November 25, 2018. The Telegram channel which posted the document belongs to a supporter of the most extreme ideological camp among ISIS supporters. He leaked the document, which was not meant for publication, as a testament of Abu Maram Al-Jazairi's scholarship and to show that he upheld ISIS's ideology in its purity.

[2] Abu Maram Al-Jazairi, referred to in the Algerian media as Mohammed M, comes from the Boumerdès Province of Algeria. He was a prominent activist in the local Salafi-jihadi movement and was active in recruitment of operatives and their indoctrination before he left for Syria in 2014, a short time before the Algerian authorities broke up the cell he established and arrested dozens of his recruits. In Syria he was the cleric attached to various ISIS bodies, until he was appointed to head the ISIS Doctrinal Committee [Al-Lajnah Al-Manhajiyyah]. He and the other members of the committee were known as adherents to the extremist line with respect to takfir [declaring other Muslims apostates]. In 2017, a dispute erupted in the ISIS ranks with respect to a more extreme stand on takfir which the ISIS leadership adopted, at the prompting of the Doctrinal Committee. Abu Maram and his colleagues were subsequently removed from their positions and jailed. Several months later Abu Maram was released and he fled, mostly likely to Turkey. There has been no trace of him since them. El Khabar (Algeria), December 7, 2014; see also MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1324, Dispute Over Takfir Rocks Islamic State, August 4, 2017.

[4] For more information about the dispute between Hamas and ISIS in Sinai see Tensions Rise Between Hamas And ISIS Sinai, December 22, 2016. For information about the video see ISIS In Sinai Condemns Hamas In Video, Urges Jihadis In Gaza To Kill Shi'ites, Christians, Atheists, Threatens To Attack Israel, January 3, 2018.  

[5] Members of ISIS see the territories under their control, and only those, as the Land (or Abode) of Islam, or Dar Al-Islam, and so the territories controlled by ISIS in Sinai are also considered to be the Land of Islam, unlike the Gaza Strip which is considered to be ruled by apostates.