The terror group BBC audiences have never heard of

As our colleagues at CAMERA documented back in October, there is a relatively new kid on the block of Gaza Strip terror and – given both the Sunni-Shiia proxy wars currently blighting the Middle East and the fact that the Iranian regime now has more cash to spare – its background and affiliations as reported by the invaluable Khaled Abu Toameh are of particular interest at this time.

photo credit: Times of Israel
photo credit: Times of Israel

“The new Iranian-backed Al-Sabireen was established in wake of tensions between Iran and its two former allies in the Gaza Strip: Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis four years ago, relations between Tehran and Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been strained. […]

Al-Sabireen, whose emblem is identical to that of another Iran proxy, Hezbollah, so far has about 400 followers in the Gaza Strip. Each one receives a monthly salary of $250-$300, while the senior officials of the group get at least $700.”

On October 20th 2015, one of Al Sabireen’s operatives was killed near al Bureij when the IDF targeted a sniper cell.

“A pro-Iranian armed group in the Gaza Strip says that the Palestinian man reported killed by IDF fire today was one of its operatives.

Harakat al-Sabireen, a splinter group which broke away from Islamic Jihad and has symbols similar to that of Hezbollah, issued a statement saying 27-year-old Ahmed Sharif al-Sarhi was a leader of one of its armed group, which was outlawed by Hamas earlier this year.”

The ITIC adds:

“On October 20, 2015, Ahmed Sharif al-Sarhi, aka Abu Bilal, 27, from Dir al Balah, was killed by IDF fire near the border security fence east of al-Bureij in the central Gaza Strip. According to a statement issued on his death by the Al-Sabirin network, he was killed by sniper fire when he and a squad of network operatives were on a surveillance mission. According to IDF sources he was a sniper, one of a squad situated near the border security fence.

Ahmed al-Sarhi was a senior operative in the Al-Sabirin network, which is affiliated with Hezbollah and Iran. He escaped two targeted killings on his house during Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge. He formerly belonged to the PIJ. Al-Sabirin and Fatah issued death notices for him. His funeral was held in Dir al-Balah, attended by supporters of Fatah, the PIJ, Hamas and the Al-Ahrar network in the Gaza Strip. His body was draped in the Palestinian flag.”

Here is how the BBC described that incident at the time: [emphasis added]art 20 10 15 Gaza

“A Palestinian man was also killed during clashes with Israeli troops near the Gaza border fence, medics said. […]

Palestinian medics in the Gaza Strip meanwhile said a Palestinian man was shot dead and three others wounded during clashes between protesters and Israeli troops east of the Bureij refugee camp.

The Israeli military said “terrorists in Gaza” had attempted to attack soldiers near the border fence. They were “identified and targeted”, and hits were confirmed, a statement added.”

Recently, Al Sabireen announced that it is widening its operations.

“A Palestinian jihadi group with close ties to Iran claimed on Wednesday that it has expanded out of the Gaza Strip and is now operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well.

“We have an armed branch whose goal it is to wage war on the Israeli occupation everywhere,” Hisham Salim, founder of the Harakat al-Sabireen, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

“Within this framework we have members in the West Bank and Jerusalem who will soon receive financial and military support from us,” he said.”

Khaled Abu Toameh notes that:

“Al-Sabireen is also believed to have succeeded in recruiting scores of militiamen belonging to President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction in the Gaza Strip. These militiamen have gone to the Iranian-backed group mostly for financial considerations. This, of course, is bad news for Abbas, who is now watching as many of his former loyalists have come onto Iran’s payroll and are sharing its radical ideology.

Iran’s presence in the Gaza Strip – this time through Al-Sabireen – is bad news not only for Israel, but also for many Palestinians and Arabs in the region. The Egyptians, who have been waging a relentless war on Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Sinai, are already voicing concern over Iran’s new Palestinian proxy. The last thing Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah need is another Iranian terror group similar to Hezbollah in the Middle East.”

Members of the British public funding of one of the few Western media organizations to still maintain a permanent office in the Gaza Strip remain, however, oblivious to the existence of this terror group.

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