Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

views updated Jun 27 2018

Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

LEADERS: Fathi Abd al-Aziz Shaqaqi; Dr. Ramadan Abdullah al-Shallah


USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip


Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami fi-Filastini, better known as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) or Palestinian Islamic Jihad-Shaqaqi/Shiqaqi faction, is a militant Palestinian group, headquartered in Damascus, Syria. It calls upon the doctrine of jihad (a term interpreted by Islamist extremists as a holy war against those who do not believe in Islamist fundamentalism) in its efforts towards destroying Israel. PIJ is also referred to as the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, or the Islamic Jihad. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad allegedly carries out various targeted acts of violence against Israeli people and aims at disrupting communal harmony in Israel. The fundamentals of the jihad movement in Egypt form the basis of the PIJ ideology. Analysts opposing the PIJ state that the group believes in complete violence and the only goal of its members is to create an Islamic Palestinian state.

PIJ propagates its ideology through violence and opposes the peace processes between Israel and Palestine. Unlike other Palestinian resistance groups, such as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), HAMAS, and Hezbollah that also focus on social and educational reforms, PIJ's mission reportedly is extreme violence and absolute acceptance of Islam, along with total termination of the state of Israel and its inhabitants. PIJ considers the United States as its enemy, allegedly due to the friendly relations between Israel and the United States.


The Palestinian Islamic Jihad claims to be formed in 1979 by a group of Palestinian Islamic students who were previously part of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood in the Gaza Strip. These extremist individuals, Fathi Abd al-Aziz Shaqaqi, Sheikh Abd al-Aziz Odeh, and Bashir Musa, were of the opinion that the Brotherhood had become too lenient and had neglected the cause of Palestine. They decided to form their own organization with radical ideology of removing Israel and establishing the Islamic state of Palestine.

These radicals were reportedly also closely associated with the terrorist organization of Islamic students in Egypt that had allegedly murdered the Egyptian President in 1981. Following the furor, the radicals escaped Egypt and settled in the Gaza Strip, where they commenced their terrorist operations. The PIJ is allegedly responsible for various terrorist activities during the 1980s. Eventually, in the late 1980s, two of PIJ's prominent members, Shaqaqi and Odeh were sent to exile in Lebanon. However, analysts argue that the organization became stronger and more politically influential during this period.

Reports suggest that the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Agreement signed by Yasser Arafat (chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization) was a disappointment for PIJ, and subsequently they instigated targeted acts of violence meant to disrupt the peace and communal harmony in the region during the mid 1990s. Eventually, Shaqaqi was assassinated in 1995 on Malta, allegedly by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Ramadan Abdullah al-Shallah took over the leadership of PIJ following Shaqaqi's death.

The PIJ is thought to be responsible for several instances of suicide bombings, killing innocent civilians as well as members of the military in Israel. It fervently opposes all talks of peace and uses underhanded tactics in derailing peace processes initiated by either Israel or Palestine. The PIJ also does not accept the authority of the Palestinian government, which experts and monitor groups argue became evident when it did not participate in the 1996 elections (and thereafter). The government has since reportedly arrested several lower-ranked members of the PIJ.

It is thought by Western and Israeli intelligence officials that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, though a small movement, is garnering popularity as an ever-increasing number of Palestinians have started to consider that jihad is their only way to attain Islamic supremacy. According to published U.S. State Department reports, as of 2005, PIJ has a number of splinter groups such as Islamic Jihad Squad, Islamic Jihad Temple, Islamic Jihadal-Aqsa Battalions, and al-Quds Brigades.


The PIJ is thought to be influenced by the Shi'ite Islamic revolution in Iran and has vehemently opposed the Arab regime. Members and leaders of the group claim that Islamic unity would be achieved only after the dissolution of Israel and the establishment of Islamic Palestine.

The ideology of the PIJ is reportedly derived from three main sources: the Islamic revolution in Iran, the jihad movement in Egypt, and the staunch belief in militant Islamic supremacy. PIJ followers claim that Quran (the holy book of Islam) advocates that Palestine is the core of constant battle between the Muslims and Jews. The group aims at making Palestine a launch pad for expanding the rule of Islam globally.

Members of the PIJ reportedly assert that jihad is the only way through which Palestine can be liberated. According to the group, all acts of violence committed in the name of jihad are validated and supported by their Holy Scriptures and religious leaders.

The PIJ group leaders are thought to have tremendous respect for Ayatollah Khomeini, a key operative in the Iranian revolution. In spite of following the Sunni sect, they have accepted the Shi'ite beliefs of Iranian revolution, as a model for their jihad. (Sunni and Shi'ite are two distinct sects of Islam that considerably differ in ideology.) Analysts argue that the PIJ's philosophy has always been to follow the principle that "the men of religion shall lead"—originally a Shi'ite concept. In fact, while a student in Egypt, Shaqaqi authored a controversial book praising the efforts of Khomeini. The book was subsequently banned by the Egyptian authorities because of its volatile nature. Those opposing the group state that the PIJ believes in advocating Islamic rule by religious leaders so strongly that it has also allegedly conducted targeted acts of violence against the Arab authorities of Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt.



After completing his bachelor's degree (mathematics major) at West Bank in the late 1960s, Shaqaqi went on to study medicine in Egypt. During this period, he allegedly became involved in the Muslim Brotherhood that was operating in Egypt. However, he left the organization in 1974, owing to ideological differences.

The Iranian revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini (religious leader of Iran) is thought to have influenced the beliefs of Shaqaqi to a great extent. Later on, he publicly started propagating Khomeini's principles. The Egyptian authorities arrested Shaqaqi for publishing a radical pamphlet praising Khomeini's stance. Shaqaqi eventually returned to Gaza in the early 1980s, where he reportedly formed the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization. Subsequently, Shaqaqi was exiled to Lebanon. Egyptian and Israeli intelligence officials assert that during his stay there, he worked toward strengthening the organization by bringing in influential members and associating the organization with other terrorist outfits.


Dr. Ramadan Abdullah al-Shallah, one of the prominent members of PIJ, and a close aide of Shaqaqi, took over leadership responsibilities after Shaqaqi's death. As a student, he met Shaqaqi and fellow Islamic extremists in Egypt. Upon his return to Gaza Strip, he became a speaker at the Islamic University at Gaza. He went on to England to pursue his doctorate degree in Islamic Economics. Simultaneously, he was also allegedly responsible for handling various overseas operations of the PIJ. In the early 1990s, he moved to the United States, where he taught at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He also served as the executive director of the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), an organization thought by Western intelligence to be closely associated with the PIJ.

During the period of its leaders' exile in Lebanon, the group reportedly intensified its association with other terrorist organizations, including HAMAS and Hezbollah. Although PIJ had a history of rivalry with HAMAS, the common militant Islamic beliefs and the Middle East peace processes brought them together. Eventually, the group also became a prominent member of the Rejection Front (a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization) and allegedly carried out aggressive acts of terrorism against Israel. Following the 1993 Oslo Peace Agreement between Israel and Palestine that was opposed by various terrorist organizations in Palestine, including PIJ, there were several incidents of suicide bombings all over Israel. Many of these thought to be orchestrated by the PIJ.

Influenced by the terrorism tactics used by HAMAS and Hezbollah, the PIJ has also used suicide and car bombings extensively to spread terror. Shoot-outs and assassinating Israeli civilians and military personnel are other tactics reportedly employed by the group. Experts assert that the philosophy of the PIJ is depicted in the emblem of the PIJ. The emblem displays the full map of Palestine in red, allegedly to portray its prominence and to reestablish their belief that Israel should be replaced by Palestine. The controversial Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is displayed above the Palestine map. A pair of fists and two crossed rifles, along with the inscription "Allah is the Greatest," also forms a part of the emblem.

PIJ receives its funding from various sources. Western and Israeli intelligence authorities claim that the biggest financial backing for terrorist activities carried out by the PIJ comes from the government of Iran. The group is also affiliated with several Islamic jihad groups—these, allegedly, also provide funding.

The PIJ is a relatively smaller organization with lower political influence as compared with HAMAS or Hezbollah. According to many published reports, the primary places for recruiting new members and supporters for this group are religious schools, mosques, and universities. Like many other terrorist organizations, the PIJ often recruits very young Islamic students and inducts in them their Islamic militant ideology. Consequently, as thought by intelligence officials, most of these end up joining the PIJ in their war against Israel and other countries, especially the United States. Although, the PIJ has never directly attacked the United States, it has often threatened to attack the U.S. Embassy in Israel, whenever there are indications of shifting the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The group is reported to have bases in Lebanon, Syria, and some Palestinian territories. The PIJ has refused to get involved in Palestinian legislative elections since 1996. However, experts argue that the group does not endorse shunning the elections and is open to its members participating in them.

The death of Shaqaqi and the repercussion of September 11 attacks in the United States have acted as a set back in the organization's activities. Also, according to monitor groups, the new group leader, Ramadan Shallah, is not as dynamic and resourceful as Shaqaqi and has not been able to garner as much support as his predecessor.


"True peace means Israel does not exist." These were the strong words of Fathi Al-Shaqaqi, founder and former secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine. Other leaders have always endorsed this belief, even when there were signs that other extremist organizations were reportedly softening their approach.


Islamic Jihad Movement leaders Shaqaqi and Abd al-Aziz Odeh exiled to Lebanon.
Israeli authorities claim PIJ is responsible for Beit Lid junction bombing that killed 20 soldiers and one civilian.
Shaqaqi assassinated in Malta, allegedly by Mossad agents. Dr. Ramadan Abdallah Shallah becomes the new PIJ chief.
Members of PIJ are the reported masterminds behind the suicide bombing at Megiddo Junction, Israel, that kills seventeen people and injures more than thirty-five.
PIJ reportedly organizes a suicide bombing in Maxim restaurant, Haifa, Israel, killing twenty-one people and injuring sixty.
Israeli authorities claim that PIJ is responsible for various instances of suicide bombings at public places in Jerusalem, Netanya, West Bank, and Tel Aviv, including the suicide bombing outside Hasharon Mall in Netanya, which leaves three dead and more than ninety injured.

After HAMAS declared that it would stop using suicide bombings against Israel, Abu Imad Al Rifai, a representative of the PIJ refused to succumb to the pressure and insisted that the PIJ continue using suicide bombings in its war against Israel. Al Rifai, in an interview, told Reuters that, "Our position is to continue. We have no other choice. We are not willing to compromise."

Most of the countries in the world have condemned the tactics employed by the PIJ. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, President Bush, while issuing a strong warning against all countries harboring terrorism, explicitly called upon Syria to "choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations;" it was concluded by experts that he was referring to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as it is the most prominent terrorist group operating out of Syria. At the Rose Garden speech (in June 2002) in which President Bush called for a new Palestinian leadership, he mentioned that, "Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel—including Hamas, Islamic Jihad [PIJ], and Hezbollah."


The Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization is allegedly dependent primarily on three countries to execute its operations. Damascus in Syria houses the headquarters of the outfit, Lebanon provides operation support and facilitates terrorist activities, and Iran provides financial backing. The PIJ continues with suicide bombings and car bomb blasts at public places aimed at disrupting the peace proceedings in the Middle East. In the past, the PIJ has reportedly tried to end the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestine, and has continuously called upon Islamic extremists to support their mission of eradicating Israel. Israeli intelligence officials state that consistent attacks on Israeli targets have demonstrated efforts by the PIJ followers to enhance their significance among other Palestinian Islamic Extremist organizations.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad has carried out numerous activities using adult men, women, and even teens as suicide bombers. Most of these attacks are targeted at the general public.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) a.k.a. Islamic Jihad of Palestine, Al-Quds Brigades


Formed by militant Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel through attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets inside Israel and the Palestinian territories.


PIJ militants have conducted many attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings, against Israeli civilian and military targets. The group maintained operational activity in 2004, claiming numerous attacks against Israeli interests. PIJ has not yet directly targeted US interests; it continues to direct attacks against Israelis inside Israel and the territories, although US citizens have died in attacks mounted by the PIJ.




Primarily Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. The group's primary leadership resides in Syria, though other leadership elements reside in Lebanon, as well as other parts of the Middle East.


Receives financial assistance from Iran and limited logistical assistance from Syria.

Source: U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Terrorism. Washington, D.C., 2004.



Barsky, Yehudit. "Terrorism Briefing Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine." American Jewish Committee. July 18, 2002.

Web sites

Center for Defense Information. "Palestine Islamic Jihad." 〈〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).

Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S). "Profile of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Perpetrator of a Suicide Bombing Attack in Tel Aviv, February 25, 2005." 〈〉. (accessed October 20, 2005).

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. "Palestinian Islamic Jihad." 〈〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).

Office of the Press Secretary, The White House. "President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership." 〈〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).




Al-Qaeda (Also Known as Al-Qaida)

views updated May 14 2018

Al-Qaeda (also known as Al-Qaida)

Responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States, Al-Qaeda (also known as Al-Qaida) was established by Osama bin Ladin (also spelled Usama Bin Ladin or Osama bin Laden) in the late 1980s to bring together Arabs who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Al-Qaeda helped finance, recruit, transport, and train Sunni Islamic extremists for the Afghan resistance. Al-Qaeda's current goal is to establish a pan-Islamic Caliphate by working with allied Islamic extremist groups to overthrow regimes it deems "non-Islamic" and expelling Westerners and non-Muslims from Muslim countries. Al-Qaeda has issued statement under banner of "The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders" in February 1998, saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizenscivilian or militaryand their allies anywhere in the world. The World Islamic Front for Jihad merged with Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Al-Jihad) in June 2001.

Organization activities. On September 11, 2001, 19 al-Qaeda suicide attackers hijacked and crashed four U.S. commercial jets, two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a fourth into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, leaving about 3,000 individuals dead or missing. Al-Qaeda also directed the October, 12, 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen, killing 17 U.S. Navy crewmembers, and injuring another 39. Al-Qaeda also admitted responsibility for the bombings in August 1998 of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that killed at least 301 individuals and injured more than 5,000 others. Al-Qaeda claims to have shot down U.S. helicopters and killed U.S. servicemen in Somalia in 1993 and to have conducted three bombings that targeted U.S. troops in Aden, Yemen, in December 1992.

Al-Qaeda is linked to unrealized plans to assassinate Pope John Paul II during his visit to Manila in late 1994; a plan to kill President Clinton during a visit to the Philippines in early 1995; the planned midair bombing of a dozen U.S. trans-Pacific flights in 1995; and plans to set off a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport in 1999. They

also plotted to carry out terrorist operations against U.S. and Israeli tourists visiting Jordan for millennial celebrations in late 1999. (Jordanian authorities thwarted the planned attacks and put 28 suspects on trial.) In December, 2001, suspected al-Qaeda associate Richard Colvin Reid attempted to ignite a shoe bomb on a transatlantic flight from Paris to Miami.

Al-Qaeda may have several thousand members and associates in cells located around the world, and also serves as a focal point or umbrella organization for a worldwide network that includes many Sunni Islamic extremist groups, some members of al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the Harakat ul-Mujahidin.

Al-Qaeda has cells worldwide and is reinforced by its ties to Sunni extremist networks. Coalition attacks on Afghanistan since October 2001 have dismantled the Talibanonce al-Qaeda's protectorsand led to the capture, death, or dispersal of al-Qaeda operatives. Al-Qaeda members at large, including as of April 2003, Osama bin Ladin, have vowed to attempt to carry out future attacks against U.S. interests.

Bin Ladin, member of a billionaire family that owns the Bin Ladin Group construction empire, is said to have inherited tens of millions of dollars that he uses to help finance the group. Al-Qaeda also maintains moneymaking front businesses, solicits donations from like-minded supporters, and illicitly siphons funds from donations to Muslim charitable organizations. U.S. efforts to block al-Qaeda funding has hampered their ability to obtain money.



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

Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

views updated May 29 2018

Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

The Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) originated among militant Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s. The PIJ-Shiqaqi faction, currently led by Ramadan Shallah in Damascus, is most active. Committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel through holy war, PIJ also opposes moderate Arab governments that it believes have been tainted by Western secularism.

Organization activities. PIJ activists have conducted many attacks including large-scale suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets. The group increased its operational activity in 2001 during the Intifadah, claiming numerous attacks against Israeli interests. The group has not targeted U.S. interests and continues to confine its attacks to Israelis inside Israel and the territories.

The actual number PIJ activists is unknown. The PIJ operates primarily in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and other parts of the Middle East, including Lebanon and Syria, where the leadership is based. They receive financial assistance from Iran and limited logistical support from Syria.


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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Islamic militants