which is dated September 2006 and the latest April 2011, include letters and draftletters written by Osama Bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda leaders.3. One of the documents, apparently written in 2006, reveals correspondencebetween the Army of Islam, a Gaza Strip-based global jihad organization affiliatedwith Al-Qaeda, and the Al-Qaeda leadership. The correspondence focuses on thequestion of whether the Army of Islam is permitted by Islamic religious law
toaccept funding for its terrorist activities from other Palestinian organizations
(e.g., the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah)
and, by implication, from such“infidel” countries as Shi’ite Iran
(which, according to the Army of Islam,provides generous financial assistance to the PIJ). Al-Qaeda answered in theaffirmative, i.e.,
that Islam permits the acceptance of money from otherorganizations and infidel countries for the purposes of jihad
(a practiceemployed by the PIJ) (see
for details on the correspondence).4.
The Army of Islam
is a Gaza Strip-based Salafi-jihadist organization that has
considerable operative capabilities
compared to similar networks affiliated withAl-Qaeda. Established in the beginning of 2006, the organization is led by
a member of an influential Gaza Strip clan. Two Army of Islamoperatives took part in the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Theorganization is notable for its efforts to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel
viathe Sinai Peninsula;
it conducts activities against Western andEgyptian targets reminiscent of those conducted by the global jihad.
In thepast, the Army of Islam was accused by the then Egyptian interior minister ofresponsibility for a terrorist attack against the Coptic church in Alexandria (January2011) and the Khan el-Khalili market in Cairo (February 2009).
The Army of Islamhas a close relationship with Hamas,
giving it ample freedom of action on theGaza Strip scene and on the Egyptian scene (see
for details).5. As already mentioned, the “case study” that motivated the Army of Islam’squestion to Al-Qaeda
was the close relationship between the PIJ and Iran.
According to one of the letters sent by the Army of Islam, the (Sunni Muslim) PIJreceives considerable financial assistance from “infidel” Shi’ite Iran
for its jihadistactivities,
which has even led some of its operatives (“perish the thought”, theletter said) to adopt the Shi’ite school of thought. In practice, Iran does provide thePIJ with
generous military and financial assistance,
which has turned it into thesecond strongest organization in the Gaza Strip (after Hamas). In exchange for theassistance,
the PIJ, not bound by the kind of constraints placed upon Hamas,