Arab terror attacks in Jerusalem on Friday night and Saturday morning are generally viewed by the media as “lone wolf” attacks.
That’s a mistake, but it’s an easy one to make. Alqam Khayri, who killed six Israelis and one Ukrainian national on Friday night outside a Jerusalem synagogue, was not affiliated with any terror groups. Neither was 13 year-old Muhammad Aliyat, who injured two Israelis outside Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday morning.
Hamas didn’t provide the guns, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades didn’t offer any training and Palestinian Islamic Jihad didn’t help Khayri or Aliyat identify soft targets.
Rather, the two were encouraged by media messages from the Palestinian Authority — which is a separate issue — and the behavior of several Islamist groups operating in eastern Jerusalem.
Here is a very partial list of extremist Islamic groups who, in their own way, encourage lone wolf terror in eastern Jerusalem.
In 2022, senior Hamas officials who were released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner swap met at the terror group’s office in Turkey. Their agenda: Convince Khaled Sabah Masor to serve as coordinator of Hamas operations in Jerusalem and be ready for action in time for Ramadan.
Hamas demanded that Sabah transfer funds to their operatives, and in this context he transferred $5,000 to Rami Fakhuri, a member of “Shabaab al-Aqsa,” the group that murdered a police officer and civilian in a 2016 terror attack.
Sabah was also ordered to be Hamas’s contact person with Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the outlawed Northern Faction of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
To finance terrorism, Sabah used his connections with the Al Quds Charity Committee to transfer funds to the injured terrorists and their families. Fares Totah, another Hamas figure, used the charity to transfer 28 million shekels ($8.1 million) to other people, mostly to other Hamas operatives.
Another Hamas operative freed in the Shalit deal, Bilal Seb Laban, was recruited to establish civil institutions — such as an educational center and a kindergarten — as a cover for terror. Laban was also asked to prepare a list of young people from eastern Jerusalem who would agree to work as enforcers and forward the list to Hamas leaders in Turkey.
The Islamic Movement’s Northern Faction
Both Hamas and the Northern Faction are branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Muslim organization based in Egypt with branches in the Mideast, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Hamas is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch while the Islamic Movement is the Israeli branch. Israel outlawed the Northern Faction in 2015.
The Northern Faction is so-named because the Islamic Movement split in 1996 over the issue of participating in Israeli elections. The Southern Faction’s party is currently called Ra’am, is led by Mansour Abbas, and in 2021, became the first Arab party to join an Israeli governing coalition.
As Jewish visits to the Temple Mount surged in 2022, the outlawed Northern Branch acted to boost the Muslim presence on the holy site by holding a competition to memorize the Koran on “the terraces of of Al Aqsa.” The 41 terraces, low stone buildings scattered around the Temple Mount plaza, were renovated and turned into classrooms years ago by the Northern Faction with the help of other banned Islamic associations.
The Northern Faction considers the terraces “part of clinging to the Temple Mount,” a religious obligation and jihad for the sake of the holy site. Students in these classes are indoctrinated with radical Islamist ideology. Many advance to become trained tour guides in the mosques.
The most violent Muslims on the Temple Mount are the Mourabitoun, a squad of Arab men and women created by the Northern Faction specifically to harass Jews visiting the holy site. Jews who appear to be possibly praying may be shouted at, cursed and even physically assaulted by the Mourabitoun.
The most active mobs, who have been arrested time and time again, receive a bonus of hundreds of shekels as well as a gold scarf. Many are equipped with computers and iPads to record their activities for Hamas media.
Its members tend to be graduates of the Islamic classes at Hebron University.
Hundreds of activists of the extremist Tahrir “party” operate in eastern Jerusalem under the leadership of Sheikh Atsam Amira. His ideology is more in line with Al-Qaeda in that Amira preaches of an Islamic caliphate, which will only be established when “Palestine is liberated by Jihad.”
According to Amira, even if the Jews convert to Islam, they must be killed.
Tahrir is politically active in mosques, and runs “chastity vigils” beating up young adults who drink alcohol or break a religious fast. Members of Tahrir have in the past even sprayed hydrogen peroxide on young women wearing what they considered immodest clothing.
Following the Israel-Gaza conflict of 2021, Tahrir people chased off the Temple Mount the Palestinian Authority-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein because he did not express support for Hamas.
Turkish Charity Groups
The Turkish Heritage Association, “Miratna” provides food packages and financial assistance to needy families, renovates houses, offers educational programs, works to preserve Islamic heritage sites, and even plants olive trees. But the association is also part of the Muslim Brotherhood and is one of several Turkish charity groups working to undermine Israeli sovereignty in eastern Jerusalem.
Turkey’s ruling AKP Party is ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Hamas, which is the Brotherhood’s “Palestinian” affiliate. A number of senior Hamas operatives are based in Turkey with the blessings of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The association also finances the “caravan project,” which transports Muslim worshipers from Israel to the Temple Mount and guarantees the presence in “sensitive times.”
At the organization’s annual conference in Istanbul in November, the head of the charity, Muhammad Demirji insisted that, “The association will continue to work to prevent the Judaization of the city by Israel.”
It wasn’t necessary for Hamas, the Northern Faction, Mourabitoun, Tahrir or Turkish charity groups to provide Alqam Khayri or Muhammad Aliyat with guns or training. These organizations whip up eastern Jerusalem, then stand back and watch fallout.