A pseudonym created in the beginning of the Second Intifada (September 2000) to refer to the terror infrastructures associated with Fatah. This name was used primarily in taking responsibility for terror attacks carried out by Tanzim activists (Tanzim is the operative field wing of Fatah.) The name was intended to identify such activists with the Tanzim, while at the same time avoiding any complications in the international arena due to disapproval of the involvement of Fatah activists in terrorist activity. Many cells that carried out terror attacks added additional names to that of the “Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades” in order to identify themselves more exactly. Thus, for example: Iman Jouda Faction, the Jihad Amarin Brigades, the Army of Believers led by ‘Isam Batash, and others. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is not an institutionally-affiliated body, but is rather a group of independent terror cells, which preserve certain ties to Fatah. These ties weakened as the intifada continued, with a growing rift between the movements’ leaders and the operational activists as a result of the disintegration of the institutional frameworks of the Tanzim and their eventual paralysis. One cause of this process was the arrests and eliminations of front-line administrative officials of the Tanzim, whose activists were the most active terrorist element during the beginning of the intifada. Independent local terror cells remained active, and these were joined by new members without organizational affiliation, or even, by members of other Palestinian factions. They received support and funding from terror elements abroad, especially Hizbullah in Lebanon. The independent cells of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades not only worked in concert with terrorist elements, both Palestinian and otherwise, but they also adopted methods of action including suicide attacks, which had been used earlier only by the Islamic terror organizations. Thus the activists of the Brigades became active in carrying out mass killing attacks within Israel: some independently, and others in concert with different organizations such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and even Hamas. During the second intifada, the Palestinian Authority under Fatah leadership made several attempts to gain control over the activists of the Brigades, many of whom were active in the Palestinian security apparatuses. These efforts to “absorb” them and thus to restrain them and remove them from the circle of terror, were partially successful. The “Fugitive Arrangement” was implemented from mid-2008, in which hundreds of activists left their terrorist activity and committed to cease all terror activity and to surrender their weapons to the authorities, in return for Israel’s refraining from taking action against them. Alongside this, the majority of Al-Aqsa Terror Brigades cells which continue their activity are funded and directed by external terrorist elements, who have no interest in ceasing terror against Israel.
The “military wing” of Hamas, used as the movement’s apparatus for carrying out terror attacks. It is named after Sheikh al-Qassam, considered by Hamas to be the founder of the modern Palestinian resistance movement, killed by the British in 1935. This apparatus became prominent due to its widespread execution of suicide attacks and mass killings, beginning in 1993. The suicide terror attacks climaxed during the early years of the Second Intifada (which began in September 2000). In these attacks, which were carried out mainly in buses and in crowded entertainment areas, hundreds were killed, and thousands were wounded. Counter-terror activity undertaken by Israel (beginning with Operation Defensive Shield, March 2002), and the establishment of the buffer zone in Samaria, led to a significant decrease in Hamas’s success in carrying out suicide attacks in Israel. Alongside the suicide attacks, this apparatus also carried out attacks involving kidnappings of Israelis, explosives attacks, and shooting attacks from passing vehicles. In the past decade, the apparatus has focused on developing its ability to carry out high-trajectory fire from the Gaza Strip (locally produced mortars, and rockets of the “Qassam” type) as well as on improving high-trajectory weapon range and exactitude; and, since the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip (September 2005), on weapon smuggling as well.
Founded by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Identified with the Global Jihad movement, which aims to spread Islam and to create an Islamic caliphate – that is, to institute government throughout the world on the basis of Islamic law. According to Al-Qaeda’s views, every Muslim is obligated to participate in “jihad” in order to return Islam to the status it deserves. For this reason, jihad is not directed only against infidels, the non-Muslims, but also against Arab and Muslim governments who stray from the correct Islamic path by tending toward the West and adopting “Western” values including nationalism, democracy, constitutions and elections. Al-Qaeda believes in a total and uncompromising war against its enemies, and according to its view, the entire planet is a legitimate sphere of fighting and any and all means are valid in order to achieve the goal (including the use of non-conventional weapons and the targeting of civilians). Al-Qaeda has been responsible for a large number of mega-terror attacks, most prominently the September 11th attacks in the US, as well as a series of attacks on American and Western targets in Africa, the Persian Gulf and Europe and attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets, including synagogues around the world (Djerba, Tunisia in 2002; Istanbul, Turkey in 2003). The organization recruits its supporters on the basis of shared ideology, and uses the internet as a primary tool in this effort. In recent years, terror infrastructures inspired by al-Qaeda and identified with Global Jihad have been established in many countries, including in the Middle East (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt). The terror infrastructures in Iraq and in North Africa are especially prominent; these are linked directly to al-Qaeda leadership and Bin Laden. The concepts of Global Jihad have been disseminated in the “territories” and among Israeli Arabs, and there has been an increase in the number of incidents in which isolated activists or local terror infrastructures (especially in the Gaza Strip) have contacted al-Qaeda activists in order to join propaganda and operational actions, with the ultimate aim of carrying out terror attacks against Israeli targets. In the Gaza Strip, a large number of terror organizations act according to the Global Jihad/ al-Qaeda ideology, including the “Army of Islam” and "Fatah al-Islam in Palestine". Furthermore, smaller groups who have adopted this ideology act primarily against foreign citizens and institutions (such as Christian institutions), and against "overly secular" ways of life (attacking internet cafes and mixed-bathing beaches).
Hamas, whose name means “the Islamic resistance movement,” is a Sunni fundamentalist Islamic body, which strives to establish a Palestinian state founded on Islamic law in place of the state of Israel. Hamas was established by Sheikh Ahmad Yassin from the Gaza Strip, and became active in the “territories” in December 1987 (with the beginning of the first intifada). Hamas defines itself, according to its charter published in August 1988, as the Palestinian branch of the Islamic Brotherhood movement. Hamas strongly opposes recognition of Israel and talks with Israel, and sanctifies “Jihad” (holy war) as the sole method of action to solve the "Palestinian problem." According to the Hamas charter, the commandment of jihad is an individual religious obligation applying to each and every Muslim. The Hamas military wing, called the "Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades,” is a terrorist organization which is an integral part of the movement. This body is funded by Hamas finance, part of which come from charitable contributions (one of the basic commandments of Islam), and enjoys Hamas' popularity, attained by the “da’wa” infrastructure built by Hamas. The da’wa infrastructure includes a wide network of charitable organizations which provide financial support, religious and educational services, and religious indoctrination (in Hamas terms, “preparation of the hearts”). This infrastructure is used by Hamas to pinpoint and cultivate activists and supporters from a young age. In the parliamentary elections carried out in the Palestinian Authority in January 2006, Hamas won a large majority in the Legislative Council, and replaced Fatah as the ruling party. Ismail Hanniyeh, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, was appointed prime minister, and the movement sought to establish its status within the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. In this context, Hamas established an operational force, which took by force the security responsibilities in the Gaza Strip from the official Palestinian security apparatuses, identified with Fatah. Following a number of violent encounters between members of the two movements, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip (June 2007), ousted the Fatah members from their positions, and became the sole governmental authority in the Strip. Under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, rocket fire into Israel increased, as well as the efforts to smuggle weapons into the Strip, and to upgrade Hamas’s operational capabilities. All of this was in preparation for future confrontation with Israel.
The organization was founded by forces of the Iranian “Revolutionary Guard” who arrived in Lebanon during Operation Peace in the Galilee in 1982, as part of the policy of “exporting” the Islamic revolution. Up until the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon (May 2000), the organization carried out numerous attacks against IDF forces on the ground, and after the withdrawal, focused on funding, operating and directing terror infrastructures in the “territories.” Hizbullah – composed entirely of Lebanese activists with no nationalist connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – serves as a front-line operational arm of Iran against Israel, and implements Iranian policies in a comprehensive way, including the intensification of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in initiating terrorist activity against Israel. The organization initially worked to infiltrate terrorists and their accomplices across border crossings using foreign documents, and to smuggle weapons and terrorists over the border. Hizbullah has focused since 2003 on establishing terror infrastructures in the “territories” and in Israel and in financing the operations of Palestinian terror groups carrying out actions against Israel. At the top of the list of organizations financed by Hizbullah are the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, identified with Fatah: Hizbullah serves as intermediary between activists in various areas. In addition to Al-Aqsa Brigades, other organizations also receive support from Hizbullah, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, and even Hamas. In addition to transferring large sums of money to Palestinian terror organizations, Hizbullah elements also invest much effort in upgrading the terror capabilities of groups active in the “territories,” including: • Transferring much information regarding terror, including training materials regarding the production and use of weapons, as well as the production of makeshift explosives, explosive belts, and high-trajectory weapons. • Smuggling of high-quality weapons into the “territories”. Such smuggling includes sea routes, notably, the Santorini and Karine A ships, which were captured in January 2001 and 2002, respectively, carrying large quantities of weapons for transport, including anti-aircraft missiles, mortars, pistols and ammunition. • Military training sessions abroad for activists from the territories. Most of these take place in Lebanon. Terror cells in the “territories,” funded and directed by Hizbullah from Lebanon, have carried out a large number of terror attacks of various types during the current intifada, including mass killing attacks and suicide attacks, in which dozens of Israelis were killed and hundreds wounded. Among Hizbullah’s most notorious attacks abroad against Israeli or Jewish targets, were the explosion of the Israeli embassy in Argentina (1992) and the explosion of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994.
A Leninist-Marxist left-wing group that broke off from the PFLP of George Habash in February 1969, due to personal and ideological disagreements between Habash and Nayef Hawatmeh, a Christian originally from Jordan, who has headed the DFLP since its establishment. The DFLP, which opposed the political line led by Arafat in the PLO, was part of the “Opposition Front", a framework established by Palestinian factions opposed to agreements with Israel. Over the years, though, calls for adaptation to the new developments on the Palestinian scene in the wake of the Oslo Accords grew within the organization. Accordingly, the DFLP announced its willingness (May 1998) to be part of a permanent settlement on the basis of UN decisions regarding the Palestinian issue. This moderate line was not accepted by all of the organization’s activists, and due to these differences of opinion, the moderates split off (1990), under the leadership of Yasser Abed Rabbo, Hawatmeh’s deputy, who founded FIDA, the Palestine Democratic Union, which held views close to those of Fatah and eventually became part of the PA. Signs of increasing moderation could also be seen in Hawatmeh himself, who even requested permission to enter PA areas, thus engendering the anger of opposition groups, as well as of activists in his own organization, following his highly published handshake with Israeli President Ezer Weizman during the funeral of King Hussein of Jordan (February 8, 1999). Regarding terror attacks – The DFLP figured prominently in attacks in the 1970s, including the terror attack in Maalot (1974), the infiltration in Magshimim (1975) and in Beit Shean, and the explosion of a booby-trapped cart on Jaffa St in Jerusalem (1975). During the Second Intifada (beginning in September 2000), the organization’s activists carried out terror attacks primarily in the Gaza Strip, involving shooting attacks, infiltrations of settlements and army posts, the setting of explosive charges, and the firing of rockets and mortars. Most of these attacks were carried out in cooperation with activists from other terror organizations.
A fundamentalist Islamic terror organization that developed from the Islamic Jihad in Egypt, a radical branch of the Muslim Brotherhood striving to create an “Islamic caliphate” through violent struggle (“jihad”). The Palestinian Islamic Jihad was founded in 1981, in the Gaza strip, under the influence of the Egyptian branch. It was headed by Dr. Fathi Shqaqi, who is considered to be the organization’s founder. Another prominent activist, which is also consider to be among the founders of PIJ, is sheikh Abd al-Aziz ‘Odeh. The PIJ combines extremist nationalist ideology with Islamic views: the destruction of the state of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic Palestinian state, to be established on all of the territory of Palestine. The group’s ideology views the “liberation of Palestine” as a first step in the “redemption of Islam,” and the means of achieving it are “jihad” and uncompromising terror activity against Israel. Shqaqi and ‘Odeh (as students in Egypt, the two were influenced by the views of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic revolution in Iran (1979)), were expelled from the Gaza Strip to Lebanon in 1988, following a series of severe terror attacks carried out by members of their organization. Since that time, the organization’s headquarters have been in Syria. Following the death of Shqaqi in Malta (October 1995), he was replaced by Ramadan Shalah. In Damascus, the ruling regime allows the PIJ leadership a wide freedom of action. The JIP also receives significant support from Iran, both financial and operational. In practice, the PIJ serves as a key Iranian tool in the struggle against Israel, and in the strengthening of the Iranian influence on the Palestinian agenda. In the 1980s, the PIJ was, the most active terror organization carrying out terror attacks against Israeli targets. Following the signing of the Oslo Accords, which the organization vehemently opposed, its members adopted the use of suicide attacks and carried out a number of severe attacks within Israel. During the Second Intifada (since September 2000), PIJ activists, particularly from Samaria, featured significantly in a series of suicide bombings and explosives attacks, in which dozens of Israelis were killed and hundreds were wounded. As a result of Israeli counter-terror activity in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of the "buffer zone" in Samaria, the organization’s ability to carry out terror attacks decreased. In recent years, in addition to the continued efforts to execute suicide attacks in Israel, its members, mainly in the Gaza Strip, have focused on high-trajectory fire towards Israel (mortar fire and rockets), including the firing of standard manufactured Grad rockets toward Ashkelon. These attacks have been carried out alongside shooting attacks, explosives attacks, and involvement in a suicide attack in Eilat (January 29, 2007). The PIJ has a civilian infrastructure, which includes educational, cultural, social and religious institutions, dependent on charity funds subordinate to the PIJ. In practice, this infrastructure is the major tool in the achievement of the organization’s goals: it allows the organization to aid the families of terror activists who were killed or wounded, as well as the families of prisoners, and to identify and cultivate activists and supporters from a young age.
One of the Palestinian opposition groups opposing the peace process and the Oslo Accords. The organization, which holds an especially uncompromising position towards Israel, supports the continuation of the “armed struggle” with the aim of creating a “secular-democratic Palestinian state on all of the Palestinian lands” – i.e., in place of Israel. The PFLP, a left-wing Marxist group, was established in December 1967 by George Habash, a Christian born in Lod, who headed the group until the year 2000, and supported a hard-line stance against Israel. In 2000, Habash retired from the organization’s leadership and was replaced by his deputy Abu ‘Ali Mustafa. Today, Ahmad Sa’adat, a resident of Ramallah, heads the organization. He was involved in numerous terrorist actions against Israel and currently is serving a sentence in Israeli prison as a result of his role in the murder of the Israeli minister of tourism, Rehavam Zeevi, by PFLP terrorists on October 17, 2001. In the late 1980s, following the breakup of the USSR and the communist bloc which had supported the organization ideologically and economically, PFLP influence and popularity on the Palestinian street decreased. Despite this, the PFLP is considered the largest left-wing organization on the Palestinian scene, as well as the organization second in importance in the PLO. The members of the organization have tried to compensate for its small size by executing large-scale terrorist activities against Israel. Thus, in the 1970s, the PFLP figured prominently as the organization which initiated and led airplane hijackings, and in 1972 its activists carried out an attack on Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport, with the help of Japanese terrorists, in which 22 were killed. During the Second Intifada (beginning in September 2000), PFLP activists carried out a series of attacks involving the explosion of car bombs within Israel, in addition to carrying out shooting and explosives attacks in Judea and Samaria, and the firing of mortars from the Gaza Strip. As noted above, PFLP activists also murdered the government minister Rehavam Zeevi in a hotel in Jerusalem. During the recent past, the organization’s activists have cooperated with members of other factions to carry out terror attacks within Israel.
A faction of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) which was established in April 1968 as a result of a personal conflict between Ahmad Jibril, who heads this faction, and George Habash. Jibril, who had served as a captain in the Syrian army, established himself in Damascus and dictated a pro-Syrian line in the organization. The organization, which is quite small, achieved prominence due to a series of attacks in the 1970s; hijacking of a Swissair jet, the terrorist attack on Avivim children bus (May 1970) and a massacre of Israeli civilians in Kiryat Shmona. Nonetheless, the group’s primary notoriety derives from the prisoner exchange known as the Jibril Agreement of May 1985. In this exchange 1,150 Palestinian prisoners were released in return for three Israeli soldiers (Hezi Shai, Nissim Salem and Yosef Grof) who had been taken captive in the summer of 1982. Another terrorist attack carried out by the group was the "Night of the Gliders" (November 1987) in which a terrorist belonging to the organization infiltrated into Israel on a glider, broke into a military camp and killed six soldiers. The organization has little influence in practice today, (limited to Judea and Samaria, not in the Gaza Strip) and its activists cooperate with infrastructures of the mother organization, the PFLP.
A terror organization active in the Gaza Strip, which serves as a comprehensive framework for terror cells from various organizations. It originated in local defense committees, which were formed at the beginning of the Second Intifada (September 2000) to protect residents from the possibility of an Israeli incursion into central Palestinian cities. In the city of Rafah, Jamal Abu Samahadana, a senior Fatah field activist (and former Palestinian Islamic Jihad activist), headed the defense committees, and was instrumental in turning them into a fighting militia, which he called the “Popular Resistance Committees.” In early 2001, Abu Samahadana announced his retirement from Fatah owing to what he considered its overly moderate stance toward Israel, and at the same time worked to connect the PRC to Lebanese terror elements, including the Hizbullah and Iran, from whom he received funding for his organization’s terror activity. The “successes” of the PRC in terror attacks using IEDs (improvised explosive devices) against Israeli forces in the southern Gaza Strip, attracted activists from other Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The organization grew, and gradually its activity was widened within the Gaza Strip beyond Rafah, to include the central and northern Gaza Strip. Abu Samahadana attempted to expand the PRC activity into the West Bank as well, without much success. Over the years, and especially following the death of Abu Samahadana (June 2006), the PRC split into a number of factions. Some of these broke off and became independent entities, such as the “Army of Islam" whose activists were involved in the attack near Kerem Shalom (June 2006), during which the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip. Today two rival factions of the PRC are active and operate under this name. The central faction (southern), which is larger in both membership and scope of its terrorist activity; and the northern faction, which is smaller. The northern faction, led by Zakaria Dughmoush, is entirely subject to Hamas, from whom it receives instructions and funding. During the Second Intifada, the activists of the PRC figured prominently in massive explosives attacks against Israeli tanks in the Gaza Strip, and they also participated in high-trajectory fire (rockets and mortar fire) toward Israel. Activists of the PRC also cooperated with activists from other Palestinian factions in carrying out multi-organizational terror attacks against Israel.
A name used by the activists of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) to take responsibility for terror attacks carried out by the organization.
A name used by the activists of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in taking responsibility for terror attacks carried out by the organization.
An organization which believes in Global Jihad ideology, and is identified with Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon. The organization's major aim is to carry out terror attacks against Israeli and Western targets, but has not yet carried out any significant operational activity. In practice, the organization's activists have been involved in rocket fire and shooting attacks against IDF forces in the border areas around the Gaza Strip. The organization also tends to take responsibility for rocket fire carried out by other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.
A relatively new terror group in the Gaza Strip. Its founders are former members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), who adopted Global Jihad ideology. The organization currently consists of only a few dozen activists, who cooperate with other terror organizations. The organization's proclaimed goal is the "establishment of Islamic law and revival of the caliphate." In this context, the organization carries out widespread propaganda activity, and even has an independent internet site which expresses its ideology and publicizes its activity.
A faction which separated from the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in early 2006, and established itself as an independent terror organization in the Gaza Strip. It is led by Mumtaz Dughmoush – a terror activist from Gaza – who split off from the leaders of the PRC with a group of followers following personal conflicts. The majority of the group’s activists are part of the Dughmoush extended family in Gaza. Following its break off, the faction adopted Global Jihad ideology. The organization has featured prominently in the instigation of anarchy in the Gaza Strip, however its activists have also been involved in significant terror attacks; among them the attack on Kerem Shalom during which the soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip. The activists of the Army of Islam were also responsible for the kidnapping of two Fox journalists in the Gaza Strip (August 2006) as well as of the British journalist Alan Johnston (July 2007).