Army of Islam (Arabic: جَيش الإسلام Jaysh al-Islām), also known as Tawhid and Jihad Brigades, is the name used by the Doghmush Hamula (clan) for their Islamic militant activities. It is located at the Tzabra neighborhood in the center of the Gaza Strip bordered by Israel and Egypt. The United States Department of State has designated it a terrorist organization.
Notorious for their capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the kidnapping of BBC reporter Alan Johnston, Army of Islam, which appears to draw inspiration from, or is linked to, al-Qaeda, have also conducted at least one bombing of a Palestinian civilian target (an empty school) and a number of other kidnappings. The group has been previously closely related to Hamas, but has been since shunned by both Hamas and Fatah. The group has also been known as The Organization of al-Qaeda in Palestine and is linked to Abu Qatada, the British-based Palestinian-Jordanian extremist Sheikh who they demanded be released in exchange for Johnston.
On 3 November 2010 senior Army of Islam leader Mohammad Namnam was killed in a targeted killing when the car he was driving in Gaza City was hit by a missile fired from an Israeli military helicopter. Israel killed Namnam after Egyptian authorities reportedly tipped-off Israel that Namnam was helping plan a future attack on multinational security forces in Sinai. Following the November 3 air strike, the Israeli Air Force killed two other members of the group. Mohammed and Islam Yassif were killed in an air strike, fired from an unmanned drone, on 17 November 2010. The attack, coordinated with Israeli security services, Shin Bet, came around dawn on a busy street in Gaza City, and cited the same security issues as that in the killing of Namnam.
Kidnapping of Alan Johnston
In 2007 the group kidnapped the BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. On June 25, 2007 a video was released by Army of Islam showing Johnston with an explosive belt around his waist, with a demands for the release of Muslim prisoners in British custody. The group, which also kidnapped ten members of Hamas, had claimed that they would have killed him if there had been an attempt to rescue him by force. On July 4, 2007, after Gaza authorities arrested several members of Army of Islam including its spokesman, Abu Muthana, and following threats of execution, Johnston was handed over to Hamas officials and released after 114 days in captivity.
The Army of Islam has been linked with the 2011 bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that resulted in 23 deaths. Egypt's Interior minister said on 23 January that evidence proved that the group planned and executed the attack. The group quickly denied responsibility, while also reportedly expressing support for the bombing.