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Islamic Jihad


Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist resistance movement.

Islamic Jihad emerged from the Islamic revivalist tradition of the association of Muslim Brotherhood in Israeli-occupied Gaza and was formed by Palestinians studying in Egypt. Rather than pursue the Brotherhood's policy of the gradual Islamization of Palestinian society as the basis for future liberation from Israeli occupation, certain militants in the late 1970s began arguing for a more active, armed, Islamic response to the occupation much as secular groups associated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had undertaken. Sources of inspiration included such militant historical figures as Shaykh Izz al-Din al-Qassam in Palestine and Sayyid Qutb in Egypt, as well as the revolutionary movements spawned by Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj in Egypt (the Jihad Organization) and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran. What tied these traditions together was their belief in active struggle (jihad) in the service of Islam as opposed to mere preaching.

It is believed that Islamic Jihad emerged as an actual organization in 1980. Two early leaders were Abd al-Aziz Awda, deported by Israeli authorities in November 1987, and his successor, Fathi Abd alAziz Shiqaqi, himself deported in August 1988. Shiqaqi operated in Lebanon thereafter until his assassination in Malta in October 1995. Jihad's new head became Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, who moved to Damascus in the mid-1990s. The group has always maintained close relations with Iran. One of Islamic Jihad's first dramatic acts against the Israeli occupation was an attack on a group of soldiers in Jerusalem in October 1986, followed by a series of well-planned attacks on Israeli targets in late 1987. These helped to precipitate the Palestinian uprising, known as the Infidada, against Israeli rule in the occupied territories, which erupted in December 1987. Islamic Jihad has operated as a small, clandestine group of militants who seek the total liberation of all of Palestine through armed struggle rather than a mass-based organization like the Muslim Brotherhood or HAMAS. Its activities were severely hampered by Israeli repression during the Intifada. Jihad operated alongside but separate from the PLO's Unified National Command of the Uprising during the Intifada. Jihad activists were among the 418 Palestinians from the territories deported by Israel in December 1992.

Jihad opposed the IsraeliPalestinian peace talks, which began in 1991, as well as the subsequent 1993 Oslo Accord. In 1992 it joined the "Damascus Ten," a grouping of Palestinian organizations opposed to the peace talks, which changed its name to the National Democratic and Islamic Front in 1993. Jihad continued to attack Israeli targets even after establishment of a Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza and the West Bank in 1994, promoting considerable friction between it and the PA leadership. Jihad figures were arrested; Abdullah al-Shami, the group's spokesman and spiritual leader in Gaza, was arrested by the PA on six different occasions for Friday sermons that criticized the PA and its president, Yasir Arafat. Eschewing any compromise with Israel, Jihad activists have resorted to suicide bombings against Israelis during the 1990s.

Jihad and HAMAS were rivals until the al-Aqsa Intifada tended to bring them together in their activities. Jihad also has undergone some internal problems. Abd al-Aziz Awda eventually left Jihad and returned to the PA from his Israel-imposed exile with Arafat's approval. In 2003 al-Shami was pushed out of his positions and quit the movement as well.

see also aqsa intifada, al-; hamas; intifada (19871991); muslim brotherhood; oslo accord (1993); palestine liberation organization (plo).


Abu-Amr, Ziad. Islamic Fundamentalism in the West Bank and Gaza: Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1994.

Hatina, Meir. Islam and Salvation in Palestine: The Islamic Jihad Movement. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 2001.

michael r. fischbach

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Al-Jihad (also known as Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Jihad Group, and Islamic Jihad) is an Egyptian Islamic extremist group active since the late 1970s. Al-Jihad merged with Osama Bin Ladin's al-Qaida organization in June, 2001, but may retain some capability to conduct independent operations. Al-Jihad continues to suffer setbacks worldwide, especially after tightened Egyptian security in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Al-Jihad's primary goals are to overthrow the Egyptian government and replace it with an Islamic state, and to attack U.S. and Israeli interests in Egypt and abroad.

Organization activities. Al-Jihad specializes in armed attacks against high-level Egyptian government personnel, including cabinet ministers, and car-bombings against official U.S. and Egyptian facilities. The original Jihad was responsible for the assassination in 1981 of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The organization claimed responsibility for the attempted assassinations of Interior Minister Hassan al-Alfi in August 1993 and Prime Minister Atef Sedky in November 1993. As of May, 2002, Al-Jihad has not conducted an attack inside Egypt since 1993 and has never targeted foreign tourists there. Al-Jihad is responsible for the Egyptian embassy bombing in Islamabad in 1995; in 1998 an Al-Jihad attack against U.S. Embassy in Albania was thwarted.

The actual size of Al-Jihad is unknown, but the organization has at least several hundred hardcore members. Al-Jihad operates in the Cairo area, but most of its network is outside Egypt, including Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom, and its activities have been centered outside Egypt for several years.

The Egyptian government claims that Iran supports Al-Jihad. Its merger with al-Qaeda also boosts Osama Bin Ladin's support for the group. Al-Jihad also may obtain some funding through various Islamic non-governmental organizations, cover businesses, and criminal acts.



Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. <> (April 16, 2003).

Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001, Annual Report: On the record briefing. May 21, 2002 <> (April 17,2003).

U.S. Department of State. Annual reports. <> (April 16, 2003).


Terrorism, Philosophical and Ideological Origins
Terrorist and Para-State Organizations
Terrorist Organization List, United States
Terrorist Organizations, Freezing of Assets

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