A new terror group is rising to politely threaten the control of Hamas in Gaza, and it’s not the Da’esh-linked Salafi Muslims or any other global jihad group. Nor is it the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which has just lost its funding from Iran — in favor of the new organization.
The new group, called “Al-Sabirin” or “Hosn” – “The Patient for the Victory of Palestine” — was started by former PIJ official Hisham Salem, who has been careful to maintain good graces with Tehran. The group’s flag is also very similar to that of the Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah terrorist organization, also backed by Iran.
Last week the Middle East Monitor quoted an Al-Quds newspaper report that Iran had severed ties with PIJ due to its ambivalence over Tehran’s involvement in Yemen. PIJ has been looking for new sponsors, according to the report, but has failed to find them. As a result, it has closed the head office of its satellite TV channel Palestine Today, and “laid off” numerous other employees.
Al-Quds also reported that internal divisions within the group were also responsible for Iran’s decision to end its funding, along with the establishment of Al-Sabirin, which the newspaper claimed is in “full ideological and political agreement with Iran.” Moreover, according to the report, “its members, apparently, get paid full salaries every month.”
Salem has produced numerous YouTube videos in which he talks about historical events that are important to Shi’ite Muslims; this has also produced considerable confusion in Gaza among potential new followers.
Salem was allegedly expelled from the northern division of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in 2010, according to a source who spoke with Al Monitor, because he sparked “sectarian strife.” The source added that Salem’s ideas were bad for Sunni Palestinian society, which “rejects sectarian pluralism for fear of a sectarian war in Gaza.”
Salem spoke with Al Monitor in 2014, confirming his position as a “leader of the Hosn movement,” and explaining the organization was “inspired” by the founder of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He added that his group believes in “Islamic unity, and [sees] no reason to separate as Sunnis and Shi’ites.”
Salem’s charity organization, “Al-Baqiyat al-Salihat” is funded primarily by Iran. Hamas allegedly does not see Al-Sabirin as competition for Iranian dollars, however.
Hamas official Atef Adwan told Al Monitor last year it was likely that Salem’s group “will not be able to continue in the presence of giant organizations that fill the scene.”