Last month the Palestinian people, by a significant majority in an orderly democratic election, voted Hamas into power. In upcoming months, there will be efforts to obscure the identity of this organization--to claim that its past commitments are giving way to a rethinking and that it is “in evolution.” It is important, therefore, to have a clear idea of where Hamas is coming from and where its worldview must necessarily lead it.
Hamas may have just engaged in a parliamentary maneuver, but it remains a self-defined religious apocalyptic terrorist group whose foundation document preaches genocide and world domination by the military and religious forces of Islam.(1) In Arabic, “Hamas” means “zeal.” In Hebrew, Arabic’s sister language, the same word means “violence.” But the group’s comes from the acronym: “Haraqat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyah”: the Islamic resistance movement.
El-Ikhwan el-Muslemeen: the Moslem Brotherhood
As described in its Charter (or Covenant), Hamas is the “Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood,” the movement known as “al-Ikhwan al-Muslemeen.” The “Brotherhood” was founded in Egypt in 1928 by the Islamic ideologue Hassan al-Banna (grandfather of today’s controversial Islamic activist Tariq Ramadan). His cornerstone assertion was that true Islam had been diluted and betrayed by Moslem politicians truckling to the West, and that the only way to set Islam back on a true path was to violently replace these traitorous Moslem politicians with true Islamic leaders who would make the Qur’an their nations’ constitutions and Shari’a their civil law. Ultimately, once the trans-national population of Moslems, known as the “umma” (the nation), was under the leadership of right-thinking religious Moslems who eschewed westernization and modernization, the whole concept of nation-states would dissolve and the Moslem “umma” would be united, from Mauritania to India, from Turkey to Yemen, and from Pakistan to Somalia, under one Islamic religious Caliphate.
In short, Hassan al-Banna wanted to take the Moslem world back to the 8th century, and use violence and murder, terrorism and assassination to do so. In the context of this Armageddon-type confrontation between a neo-Caliphate and modern Moslem states, al-Banna saw the Jews of the world (there was not yet a state of Israel) as a major enemy of diabolic proportions. He quoted Mohammed’s extra-Qur’anic teaching that the world would know ultimate redemption, and the resurrection of the dead, only when the Moslems had succeeded in annihilating all of world Jewry, or converting them to Islam. His words would later appear in the Hamas Covenant.
Al-Banna’s disciple was an eloquent writer and preacher, Sayd Qutb. Qutb lived for a bit more than a year in the United States, traveling and acquainting himself with American culture and social mores. His response to democracy and freedom was one of shock and horror. His writings, which lay the groundwork for modern “brotherhood” preaching, regard Western civilization in general, and the USA in particular, as manifestations of demonic licentiousness and sinful hubris. The Brotherhood’s goal must be the destruction of this ungodly and perverse society.
The Brotherhood quickly attracted to its ranks both those predisposed to violence and those for whom violence was only a means to restoring Allah’s will on earth, first with errant Moslem nations, and then with the nations that represented leadership in “global un-belief.” End-of-days rhetoric with apocalyptic prophesies, coupled with training and action in violent attacks on politicians, opposition religious leaders, and civilians, proved effective in drawing into its fold many thousands of followers.
By the late 1930s, Nazi Germany had established contacts with the Brotherhood, and the Haj Amin el-Husseini, father of Palestinian nationalism, was a close collaborator with Hitler. Not surprisingly, the Brotherhood adopted fascist trappings, language and symbolism. In fact, Sayd Qutb’s book “Our Struggle with the Jews” is reminiscent of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Qutb simply changed the players. Instead of being the eternal enemy of the “Aryan race,” the Jews, in the perception of the Brotherhood, became the eternal enemy of Islam. His central theme was the Jews’ use of Christianity, capitalism and communism as weapons in their war to subvert Islam. Moreover, he re-interpreted history such that the Jews could be blamed for everything from the French revolution to Marxism, materialism, sexual depravity, World War I, World War II, and global poverty.
Al-Banna was assassinated in 1949, and Qtub was eventually imprisoned and executed in Egypt. After three attempts by the Brotherhood to assassinate Egyptian President Nasser in 1966, Nasser executed the Brotherhood’s leadership and killed, imprisoned, or exiled thousands of its followers. Leaders went underground or sought refuge in neighboring countries.
The Brotherhood experienced a resurgence during the Cold War and especially after the Khartoum Conference of 8/1967 following the Six-Day War. As a result of the Arabs’humiliating defeat on the traditional battlefield, terrorism took precedence as a strategy. Yassir Arafat, a member of the Brotherhood in the 1950s, took on the mantle of terrorist par excellence with funding from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and training and deployment via the USSR.
Other branches of the brotherhood resurfaced in the decades following the 6-day war, and garnered ever-growing support from Moslem rank-and-file after the 1973 Yom Kippur war. That Israeli victory too, snatched as it were from the jaws of defeat by brilliant Israeli flanking actions and creative battlefield maneuvers, shamed the Arab world once again and supported the idea that only a return to the true Islam of the Caliphate could give the “umma” the strength it needed to ultimately prevail.
The Brotherhood’s recruiting successes in Syria in the early 80s threatened the rule of Hafez el-Assad, who dispatched an army to annihilate its activist cells in the city of Hamma. By bombarding the Kasbah of Hamma with artillery, Assad killed some 400-500 Brotherhood adherents, while slaughtering as well an estimated 25,0000 of his own citizenry. That massacre merited about 1.5 inches in the New York Times.
After the Moslem Brotherhood’s assassination of Anwar es-Sadat in 1981, Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarrak, cracked down on them, once again killing, arresting, and exiling many and driving the rest underground in Egypt.
The Brotherhood Today
Brotherhood success at the polls in Algeria in the early 90s sparked a civil war, still going on today, pitting a broad and thoroughly grass-roots Algerian population, supporting the Brotherhood, against the more westernized government that lost the election but was unwilling to give up power. That war has been going on for more than ten years and has cost tens of thousands of lives, and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless.
Al-Qaeda and a number of other international Moslem terrorist organizations active in the terror war being waged today against the USA and Europe have their roots in the Brotherhood, or draw inspiration from the writings of al-Banna and Qtub.
In the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Brotherhood was active in the 1960s through 80s as a social and religious force; but it generally disassociated itself from the PLO and other secular or Marxist terror groups. The cornerstone of their activities there was the system of social services, Da'wah ( sermonizing, or inviting to the faith), which promoted the group’s popularity with the poor. In the twenty years preceding the Intifada, they built an impressive social, religious, educational and cultural infrastructure, which gave them a political stronghold, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Today the Brotherhood holds 20 percent of the seats in Egypt’s Parliament. It boasts a very complex financial network that connects the operations of seventy Brotherhood branches worldwide. Hamas is but one of these branches.
Hamas and Islamic History
Descended from the Brotherhood, Haraqat al Muqawama al-Islamiyyah, Hamas, shares much of its DNA. Whatever its representatives may have said in the recently completed campaign, this is an Islamic fundamentalist terror group whose sole purpose is the destruction of Israel and an apocalyptic future in which all Jews are either dead or Muslim, all remaining Christians are Dhimmi, and the stage is set for the resurrection of the dead and the redemption of the world into “dar es-Salaam” (the realm of world peace that will prevail once Islam is the only religion on earth, or at least the ruling religion).
Hamas is part of Muslim history, which is typified by waves of what we today might refer to as “Islamic fundamentalists” or “extremists.” This has been the case since the original zeal of the 7th century propelled the newly converted Moslems out of Arabia and in less than one hundred years helped them conquer four civilizations, destroying the languages and cultures of scores of nations, replacing those with Arabic and Islam, killing tens of millions along the way.
Out of Arabia, and westward, they surged into Syria and Israel, across Egypt and North Africa, in to Spain and France, stopped at the gates of Paris in 736 by Charles Martel. Eastward they conquered the Byzantine and Sassanian empires in what is today Iraq and Iran, and launching wave after wave of attackers into western India, Kashmir, Gujarat, and Punjab. Gradually, the momentum of this wave ebbed, and Islam from Spain to India, Yemen to what is today Pakistan, settled in to a ruling, rather than a conquering, mode.
But such stability was always undermined by new waves of radical fundamentalism surging out of the “Umma” (the trans-national Moslem religious population). In the 12the century it was the Almohades, who wrecked havoc in North Africa and Spain; bringing an end to the Golden Age and re-instituting the harsh, oppressive religious apartheid of Moslem supremacy and the humiliating inferior status of Jews and Christians as dhimmi. Later, this pattern again emerges with the ascendancy of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and its conquests of what is today Greece, Cyprus, Crete, Albania, Czechia, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary, a development that brought genocidal destruction and the murder of hundreds of thousands of Christians.
Over the next few centuries, Turkish rule became less harsh and, indeed by modern times Turkey became a model of Islamic tolerance and progressiveness. Meanwhile, however, another wave of Muslim extremism occurred in Arabia, with the birth of the Wahhabi movement in the 19th and early 20th centuries– an extreme regression to Islam at its most stringent and oppressive. Part of this pattern was the resurgence of the Moslem Brotherhood, and its Palestinian branch, Hamas. When normative Islam grows too tolerant of other cultures, too secular, too eclectic, the fundamentalists stage a purifying resurgence of violence, terrorism, assassinations, war, and mass murder to recapture the true identity of Islam.
Hamas was formally founded as a distinct entity in December, 1987, and emerged on the scene of the Israel-Arab conflict in August, 1988, with the publication of its Charter, or Covenant, under the leadership of the wheelchair-bound Sheikh Akhmed Yassin in Gaza. This Covenant is the constitution by which Hamas defines itself and sets forth its goals and methods.
The prologue insists that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”(2) The Covenant’s Introduction goes on to state: “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious.” Notice that the enemy is JEWS, not Israelis. In section 7 we learn that Mohammed has said: “The Day of Judgment will not come until Moslems fight the Jews, killing the Jews. When the Jews will hide behind stones and trees, the stones and trees will say ‘O Moslems…. there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”
So Hamas’ goal is not just the conquest of “Palestine.” This is now the only democratically elected political power in the world whose foundational agenda includes the genocide, and whose sole defining paradigm is terrorism. Section 13 goes on to say that “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
So, as it describes itself, Hamas is a Moslem religious community committed to not just the destruction of Israel but of all Jews throughout the world. It is irredentist as well as genocidal, having as part of its longer term plan the re-conquest of those nations that were once under Moslem rule (Spain, Greece, Hungary, Rumania, Slovakia, India); and an even longer range plan of bringing Islam to a position from which it will be “…in control of guiding the affairs of life.”
Hamas is very clear in its belief that Jews cannot have sovereignty in any sacred Moslem land. Sheikh Yassin (whom the Israelis killed) said that Hamas would destroy Israel even if it had to be done one Jew at a time. His number two man, Sheikh Abdul-Azziz Rantizi, has put it in a slightly less bloodthirsty way: There is no room for Jews in the Moslem land of Palestine.
Hamas defines Jihad “for the liberation of all of Palestine” as a personal religious duty incumbent upon every Muslim. At the same time, it utterly rejects any political arrangement that would entail the relinquishment of any part of Palestine, which Hamas sees as tantamount to a surrender of part of Islam. The organization’s immediate goal is the establishment of an Islamic state in all of Palestine. The immediate means to achieve this goal is the escalation of the armed struggle (a.k.a. terrorism), and ultimately all-out Jihad (full scale war), with the participation not only of Palestinian Muslims but of the entire Islamic world.
Then, with “Palestine” finally rendered Judenrein, Hamas envisions ultimate Moslem victory over the entire world such that Islam will be “…in control of guiding the affairs of life.”
Role In First Intifada (1987-1991)
In its earliest manifestation in Gaza prior to the first Intifada, Hamas was known as Al-Mujama' al-Islami (The Islamic Committee). It operated primarily against local Palestinians, attacking and killing locals who violated Moslem laws of modesty. It also took punitive action against some criminal elements. Its goal was to purge Muslim society of those who did not conform to strict Moslem religious demands, and to prepare the Gaza Arabs for Jihad against Israel. With the outbreak of the first Intifada in December, 1987, Hamas also organized street riots and demonstrations, and sent children out to throw stones at Israeli troops.
Ironically, Israel initially ignored the rise of Hamas, and did nothing to stop its growth and spread in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israeli tacticians naively thought that a revivalist religious movement would be a useful counterweight to Arafat’s essentially secular PLO. Israel outlawed Hamas in 1989, once Hamas began its long series of lethal terror attacks.
To gain popular support, Hamas founded and expanded a system of charitable organizations that provided food, medical centers, and other essentials to the Gazan Arabs. This placed the organization squarely in the extremist tradition of Muslim history, where an appeal to the poor and hungry, the destitute and powerless, has been part of expansionist strategy since the 8th century.
To maintain its image as a religious movement, Hamas organized prominent religious leaders into the Association of Religious Sages of Palestine (Rabitat 'Ulama' Filastin), which serves as a kind of supreme religious framework in order to create for Hamas a mantle of religious legitimacy through religious rulings that conform with the movement's ideology. The mosque was its key recruiting venue.
An important factor in Hamas’developing popularity was the fact that Arafat and much of the PLO were in exile in Tunis from 1982 to 1994. Hamas filled the power-vacuum, serving its impoverished constituency in the refugee camps, thus providing a religious alternative to the secular PLO.
The military apparatus for Hamas’ terror activities was structurally separate from the Da’wa-type social services. The military arm was called Mujahidin. (those who engage in Jihad), and named “Izz-ad-Din el-Qassam” after an Arab terrorist and member of the Moslem Brotherhood who launched attacks against the British and the Jews during the Mandate period and was martyred in 1936. (The rockets manufactured and deployed by Hamas today are also named after him.) Zaccaria Walid Akel, the head of the terrorist section of the Hamas in Gaza, first set up the Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Battalions in 1991. In its first stages the terrorist squads kidnapped and executed people suspected of cooperation with Israel.
The structure of Hamas in Gaza and in the West Bank is based on a combination of regional and functional organization. In this framework, several identical, parallel frameworks operate in each region:
a. Infrastructure (Da’wah, literally “sermonizing” or “inviting into the faith”), which engages in recruitment, distribution of funds, and appointments.
b. Popular violence in the framework of the Intifada, carried out by the mujahidin.
c. Security (Aman) - the gathering of information on suspected collaborators. This information is passed on to the “shock committees,” the violent operational arm who interrogate and then kill the suspects. These shock committees are known by their acronym MJD for Majmouath Jihad u-Dawa (Holy War and Sermonizing Group).
d. Publications (A'alam, literally, pages) - leaflets, propaganda, press offices.
Hamas maintains to the West that there is a clear distinction between the covert activity of its various sections and its overt social services which serve primarily to broaden the ranks of the movement. Since all parts of Hamas serve the same end and advance toward the same goal, this distinction is clearly a propaganda ploy.
Hamas enjoys strong financial backing from unofficial bodies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and recently also from Iran, which currently Iran contributes about $3million per year.
A broad network of charity associations operates legally in the West Bank, on the basis of two Jordanian statutes: the Charity Association and Social Institutions Law, and the Charity Fund-Raising Regulations (3). In the UK and EU there are at least four Hamas charities in operation as well as numerous “Palestinian Aid” societies.(4)
Hamas makes extensive use of many of these charity associations and committees, which (together with the mosques, unions, etc.) also serve as the face of the organization's social services activity, operating parallel to and serving its covert operations while also channeling of funds into the region for support of Hamas’ military arm and hard core terrorist activities. There is no exact count, but a conservative estimate puts Hamas’ income at several tens of millions of dollars per year.
Much of Hamas’ success has been the result of support it receives from the Arab and broader Moslem world. Although Hafez el-Assad annihilated the Moslem Brotherhood in Hamma in February of 1982, Syria ultimately became a very important base for Hamas activities in the 1990s, providing infrastructure, training camps, and safe harbor for its terrorist leaders. Funding from Iran and Arabia is easily channeled to the Hamas leadership in Damascus. While at least nominally under Syrian government control until Hafez el-Assad’s death, Hamas now operates independently in Syria.
Current Iranian leadership has long shared the Hamas vision of “Islam uber alles” and an end to the existence of Jews, worldwide. Iranian President Mahmoud Akhmedi-Nejad’s recent comments about wiping out Israel and destroying the “great Satan” (USA) were well received by Hamas leadership in Damascus. In 1993, Hamas opened a branch office in Teheran, and in April, 2001, was part of a conference Iran hosted an international conference of support for the “blessed Intifada” and the Islamic revolution in “Palestine. The Iranian connection also involves Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, whose main sponsor is Teheran. Hezbollah has also developed a close working relationship with Hamas and has been instrumental in training and equipping its terrorists.
Perhaps most valuable of all for Hamas has been its partnership with the UN. Logistically, the UN has assisted by turning a blind eye to Hamas terrorists’ interactions with UN personnel. The United Nations Relief and Works Association’s ambulances have been photographed while being used by Hamas terrorists for terror activities. But of even greater value to Hamas is its dominance in UNRWA’s work force. All but a few hundred of UNRWA’s thousands of workers are Palestinians. And a good chunk of UNRWA’s billions of dollars of salaries flow into the hands of Hamas sympathizers and hence into Hamas’ terrorist activities. In 2004, UNRWA’s Gaza Strip director Peter Hanson admitted that Hamas dominates his personnel: “UNRWA does not check the religious affiliation of its workers” – as if Hamas were just another religious revivalist group.
The salaries of UNRWA workers are paid through contributions that UNRWA receives from 38 contributing countries. The U.S. provides 30 percent of that budget, Canada contributes 4 percent of that budget, and the European countries contribute well over 55 percent of that budget. Ironically, the Arab world provides only 3 percent. (5)
Coordinating Terrorism With Other Groups
While Hamas has always seen itself as a competitor and religious alternative to the PLO (and later the Palestinian Authority, PA), it has also always shared with the PLO the ultimate goal of Israel’s destruction and the creation of an Islamic Palestinian State “from the River to the Sea.” Thus it entered into a cooperative partnership with Arafat after the Oslo Accords. Akhmed Yassin and Yassir Arafat developed a macabre game of “good cop/bad cop” toward Israel and the West. Hamas received secret PA assistance and funding, as long as it carried out terror attacks about which Arafat could claim plausible deniability. Then Arafat could not only deny his role in the terrorism, but could make himself look like the helpless victim of a rowdy and uncontrollable bunch of hot-headed Islamic extremists.
This ploy worked well for a number of years prior to the Intifada with the EU, the UK, and even the USA. President Clinton seems to have accepted at face value Arafat’s disclaimers and urged Israel continuously to be more accommodating and supporting of him as he struggled to gain control over Hamas. European leaders fawned over Yassin as well as Arafat, according them the respect and courtesy given to legitimate heads of state.
The West was finally given undeniable proof of this partnership of terror when Israel re-occupied the West Bank in April, 2002. Entering Arafat’s Muqat’a (compound of main offices and headquarters), the IDF confiscated dozens of computers and hard drives and files. Within a few weeks Israel was able to provide President Bush with hard-copy proof of the collusion between Hamas and the PA in the tens of thousands of documents, many signed by Arafat’s own hand, in which details of logistics, finance, planning, timing, and denials were worked out. At that point President Bush announced publicly that he no longer considered Arafat to be a meaningful partner for peace.
Since Arafat’s death (November, 2004), Hamas has played the same ‘good cop/bad cop” game with its junior partner-in-terror, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but with its role reversed. Now Hamas pretends to abide by a truce negotiated in Cairo, while Islamic Jihad carries out terror attacks.
In February, 2005, Hamas agreed to a “tahdiyeh” (a calming, or cooling off period) at the Cairo Conference, under considerable pressure from Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak (who in turn was under pressure from President Bush.) Hamas leaders were quick to assert that this “calm” was merely the “respite of the warrior,” a lull in the fighting so that the terror groups could gain time to re-arm, re-group, and prepare for the next round. And, indeed, Hamas claims to have honored this agreement. But, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other groups have stepped up their terror activities, such that almost 2000 attacks were perpetrated during that year. Israeli intelligence indicates that Hamas is as active as ever in the planning and execution of these attacks. It simply allows the other terror groups to claim credit. (6)
Hamas also works with al-Qaeda, since they share long-term strategic objectives (their war against what Osama bin-Laden terms “Global Un-Belief” with the goal of Islam’s supremacy over all the world). In addition to what one might cringingly term ‘moral support’ and personal interactions, there have been some cases of mutual operational assistance. Currently, Israeli intelligence reports a number of active el-Qaeda cells in the Gaza Strip. With the Gaza Strip now open to the Sinai Peninsula, the el-Qaeda cells in Gaza can work untrammeled with the el-Qaeda terrorist camps in southern Sinai to mount serious military threats to Egypt, Israel, and the entire Eastern Mediterranean.(7)
The “Spiritual Leader”
One key to Hamas true character was the character of its maximum leader, Sheikh Ahmed Isma’il Yassin, born in 1936 in the village of al-Jora, near the port city of Ashkelon. His family fled to Gaza during the 1948 war. A soccer sporting accident at the age of 14 left him paralyzed and wheelchair-bound, but he married and fathered 12 children.
As a student in Egypt, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood and was arrested during a sweep of activists after an attempted coup against President Gamal Abdul-Nasser in 1965. Imprisoned and later exiled from Egypt, he returned to Gaza in 1968 where he became one of the most prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures. He was arrested by Israel in 1984 because of his leadership in arms procurement and was sentenced to 13 years in prison; but was released the following year as part of the prisoner exchange with Akhmed Jibril’s PFLP-GC terrorist organization.
Upon his release, Yassin resumed his work of setting up a military infrastructure, including the stockpiling of weapons for the war against Israel. In December, 1987, Yassin directed the Brotherhood’s expansion and re-definition as Hamas. One of his first achievements as Hamas’ leader was to establish Hamas cells in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
In 1989, once Hamas surfaced as a bona fide terror group and not the harmless religious revivalist cult that Israel originally thought it was, Yassin was arrested and charged with premeditated murder, possession of weapons, incitement, the illegal transfer of $500,000, assisting the escape of two convicts from prison, recruiting members for Hamas, and membership in an illegal organization. In 1991, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment plus fifteen years. But in 1997 he was released in exchange for two Mossad agents held by Jordan's King Hussein after a failed assassination attempt on another Hamas leader, Khaled Mash’al, in Amman.
During Yassin’s imprisonment, the second tier of Hamas leadership, including Musa Abu Marzuq, became the acting leaders of the movement. Hamas then devised a strategy to ensure the continued operation of its leadership. Upon his release in 1997 he resumed his position of leadership, but with a highly structured and fully staffed level of lower tier leaders ready to step forward and take his place if necessary.
Yassin led Hamas’ rejection of the Oslo Accords, and directed a series of terror attacks aimed at disrupting the peace process. Although he was disillusioned with, and sometimes disparaging of, Arafat’s claim to have the ability to achieve victory over Israel in his terror war, Yassin cooperated with Arafat, and coordinated terror attacks with him. Arafat and Yassin planned attacks that were timed to torpedo peace talks or Palestinian pressure on Arafat to democratize; but being able to blame Hamas, Arafat avoided responsibility and pretended to take steps to rein in the insubordinate terror gangs. The ruse worked for years (8).
Yassin often proclaimed that his happiest day would be the day he died as a martyr for the holy cause of “Palestine and Jihad.” That day came on the morning of March 22, 2004, when an Israel Defense Force helicopter attack killed him and several of his followers.
Yassin left as his legacy a younger generation of terrorists to pick up the Hamas standard.
Musa Mohammed Abu Marzuq
Abu Marzuq was born in 1951, in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He went to Egypt to study engineering and upon his return to Gaza became a close collaborator of Yassin. (9)
In 1974 he left Gaza for the United States, where he continued his studies in engineering. Between 1981 and 1992 he lived with his family in Falls Church, Virginia. In 1989 he was elected the head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, which is the movement's most senior leadership body in decisions on central matters such as the policy of terrorist attacks, issuing directives to activists to operate in the Israel, in the Territories, and in Hamas areas of operation abroad.
From 1989 to 1993 he organized Hamas along rigorous lines, assisted Yassin to establish active cells in the West Bank, and developed the organization’s financial arm. In the fall of 1992 Abu Marzuq headed a Hamas delegation to Tehran for the purpose of concluding a number of political and military cooperation agreements with Iran. He was also the chief liaison between Hamas and the PLO while Arafat was in exile in Tunis.
Abu Marzuq was arrested in New York on July 25, 1995 upon one of his trips back to the US. After extradition to Israel he was expelled to Jordan in May, 1997. Later he made his way back to the Gaza Strip. Today he lives in Damascus, to be out of Israel’s reach.
Abdul Azziz Rantisi
Rantizi began his career in the Hamas as one of the six founders of the movement in December 1987, together with Sheikh Yassin and others. In December 1992, he was expelled to Lebanon, as part of the expulsion of 416 Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, and emerged as general spokesman of those expelled to southern Lebanon. Upon his return to the Palestinian Authority territories, he was imprisoned by the PA for insulting Arafat. Following his release from a PA prison, Rantizi returned to his position as “right hand” to Yassin. He was one of the main opponents to any cease-fire and cessation of terrorist attacks inside Israel.
Rantizi delivered sermons, addresses, and interviews utilizing extreme language, in which he called for the continuation of the terrorist activity against the State of Israel and its citizens, opposing any cease fire. This served as instructions to the field operatives in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to continue their terrorist activity.
He also encouraged followers to assassinate PM Sharon and other Israeli leaders. He was a strong proponent of suicide bombings against all Israelis (not just military). He rejected all possibilities of recognizing the existence of Israel or negotiating a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
After Yassin’s execution by Israel in March, Rantizi assumed the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and promptly escalated its terror activities. But his leadership role did not last long. After almost two decades of incitement, murder, the direct responsibility for scores of Israeli deaths, and the planning of a seemingly endless series of terror attacks, Rantizi was executed by Israel when an Israeli helicopter launched a strike on his car, on April 17, 2004.(11)
Khalid Al-Mash'al (12)
Mash’al was appointed the new leader of Hamas on March 24, 2004, shortly after Yassin’s death, but he remained in semi-hiding in Damascus. He promptly re-affirmed Hamas’ central tenet, the destruction of Israel via a holy war.
Al-Mash'al was born in 1956 in the village of Silwan, near East Jerusalem, then under Jordanian rule. Following the 1967 war, when Silwan came under Israeli sovereignty, Al-Mash'al and his family moved to Kuwait to join his father, who had gone there for employment several years earlier., where al-Mash’al completed his education. Like all of the Hamas founders, Al-Mash'al was initially a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and was active in Brotherhood agitation in Kuwait. Following the expulsion of all Palestinians as retribution for their support of Saddam Hussein's 1990 conquest of Kuwait, Al-Mash'al and his family left for Jordan.
Upon his arrival there in 1990, Al-Mash'al assumed responsibility for the international fundraising efforts of Hamas at the organization's office in Amman. After the arrest of Abu Marzuq in 1995, the fifty-member Hamas Consultative Council, or Shura, elected Al-Mash'al chairman of the Political Bureau. Al-Mash'al also assumed responsibility for the terror activities of the 'Iz Ad-Din Al- Qassam Brigades, which were relocated to Hamas offices in Amman, Jordan, in 1995.
From 1992 until 1999, Al-Mash'al led the Political Bureau from Amman, Jordan. He and three other Hamas representatives were expelled from Jordan on August 31, 1999, and from then until 2001 Al-Mash'al divided his time between Qatar, and Syria. Since 2001, Al-Mash'al has directed the organization's activities from Hamas offices located in Damascus
Hamas’ Role in Post-Oslo Terrorism
Although Yassin rejected the Oslo Accords and sometimes berated Arafat for signing them, he worked very closely with Arafat and the PLO, and developed an effective modus operandi as described above. So close was the interaction between Hamas and the PA that Arafat described Yassin as “Habibna, Habibna, Habibna, Habibna, Habibna” (“our Friend!” x 5)(13).
Hamas’ greatest contribution to Arafat’s terror war was the development of suicide bombings as a major tactical weapon. Hamas founded the suicide bomber academy in Gaza City, deployed the first suicide bombers in the Fall of 1994, and boasted a graduating class of 115 bomber-martyrs in 2001. Between September 2000 and March 2004, Hamas carried out 425 attacks against Israel, 52 of which were suicide bombings, killing 377 Israelis (288 in suicide bombings) and wounding 1646 more. Of great help to Arafat was Hamas’ ability and willingness to torpedo peace talks by scheduling carefully timed terror attacks (sometimes several in quick succession), knowing that Israel would call a halt to the “peace talks” in order to formulate a response to the new resurgence of terror. (14)
Unwilling to launch a full-scale military assault on Hamas terrorists because of the toll on innocent Palestinians that would result, Israel fought to defend itself against the terror onslaught by what are known as ‘pinpoint assassinations” or ‘decapitations” of major terrorist leaders. Naturally, Sheikh Akhmed Yassin and Abdul-Azziz Rantisi were high on the list.
Israel’s targeted assassinations caused much of Hamas’ local leadership to flee. The second tier of commanders fled to Damascus (Khaled Mash’al) or went underground in the Gaza Strip and West Bank (Mahmoud az-Zahar). Unofficial estimates place at about 1,000 the number of Hamas terrorists killed. Efficient and usually bloodless arrests over the years have landed about 7,000 operatives in Israeli prisons, thus decimating Hamas’ ranks and rendering it less and less capable of terror attacks. This loss of manpower is one of the reasons why Hamas so frequently demands that Israel release Hamas terrorists from its jails.
After Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, Hamas leader Mahmoud az-Zahar said:
“Neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip nor of the West Bank, nor even Jerusalem, will suffice. Hamas will pursue its armed struggle until the liberation of all of our lands.”
In last month’s elections for seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hamas scored much bigger than expected, winning more than half the seats in what seems to have been an orderly democratic election.
Hamas emphasized in its electioneering the need to clean up the Fatah corruption and mis-management. As a result, many analysts today suggest that the popular vote did not mean that the voting population was in support of Hamas’ genocidal terrorist agenda, but rather simply longed for efficient garbage collection and honest government.
However, Hamas leaders Mahmoud Az-Zahar and Khaled al-Mash’al stressed repeatedly in post-election speeches that Hamas has “known stances” (genocide of world-wide Jewry, destruction of Israel, creation of a fundamentalist Moslem state based on Shari’a law with non-Moslems reduced to dhimmitude), and therefore the popular vote was an endorsement of these ‘known stances.” Moreover, many Hamas posters and leaflets used graphic depictions of Hamas terrorists, armed and masked, preparing to “liberate el-Aqsa” and Jerusalem. The message to the Palestinian rank and file has been perfectly clear.
So now, Hamas, as a legitimate political party in the Palestinian Authority National council, has a ruling majority and is working with Fatah to divide up the government portfolios. Those Hamas covets give some insight into their future plans.
First on their list is security, which would give them control over the military arm of the PA (totaling 68,000 men). The next priority is the finance ministry, so that they can finance the war against Israel. Finally social services are important to them, so that they can continue their “da’wa” and ultimately implement Shari’a law.(16)
But the transfer of power will not go smoothly because Fatah does not want to give control of security forces or the PA’s money. Growing friction between Hamas and Fatah may well escalate from internecine rivalries, at the level of localized killings and brief fire-fights, into a bona fide civil war. A recent post-election decision by the Palestinian National Council to give President Mahmoud Abbas the power to nullify political decisions of a terrorist group is a ploy in Fatah’s strategy to reverse Hamas’ gains and re-establish itself as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Israel and the USA are working too to undermine Hamas by withholding funds until Hamas relinquishes its commitment to Israel’s destruction. The EU and the UK also currently reject any cooperation with Hamas since it remains an obdurate terrorist group.
But so far, Hamas is not impressed. The UN and Russia have already made advances to recognize and support Hamas. Arab governments have already promised to make up for any loss of funds from Western countries due to rejection of Hamas legitimacy. So despite opposition, Hamas is on its way to becoming the recognized and legitimate ruling power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The danger for Israel is that as Hamas successfully overwhelms Fatah and establishes itself as a legitimate political force, gets into the good graces of the EU and UK , and eventually perhaps the USA as well. Then Hamas will have the political legitimacy and leverage it needs in order to reload, re arm, re recruit, re-deploy and gear up for the next phase; the last great final jihad....just as its Covenant promises.
Hamas’ Long Range Plans
Mahmoud az-Zahar lays out the character of the Islamist Palestinian state according to the Hamas vision: “This will be a state which will be based on the principals of the Shari’a and will be part of the Arab Islamist Umma,” he says. “In the Shari’a-led Palestine, mixed dancing will be prohibited.
In Hamas' Palestine, homosexuals and lesbians which Zahar defines as “a minority of moral and mental deviants” will have no rights.” In the Islamist Palestinian state, says Zahar, each Palestinian citizen will be required to behave according to the Shari’a. (17)
The Islamist Palestinian state will also refrain from negotiations and cooperation with Israel, according to Zahar: “It is in our national interest to stop the cooperation with Israel in any field.” Hamas, Zahar says, will also use all the weapons in the Palestinian territory to create an Islamist Palestinian state in all of Palestine’s territory, and use terrorism to obliterate the Israeli state. In response to a question concerning the nature of Palestine under Hamas rule, from a Newsweek reporter on August 30, 2005, Zahar responded, “It should be Hamastan.” (18)
But Hamas’ long range plans do not stop at the borders of “Palestine.” Its covenant and other statements are similar to those of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Ayman ez-Zawahiri’s recent letter to the West, and pronouncements from other Islamist organizations. They all strive to establish a Caliphate encircling the globe. To quote Ahmad Yassin: “The 21st century is the century of Islam,” and “Jihad will be the personal obligation of every Muslim man and woman, and there will be no alternative to Muslims threatening the interests of the hostile Americans and Westerners and striking at them everywhere.” and his successor Mahmoud az-Zahar says, “Israel will disappear and after it the US.” (19)
Khaled Mash’al currently continues to espouse Hamas’ long-range plan of Islam’s world conquest. At the Al-Murabit Mosque in Damascus February 3, 2006, as part of a Friday sermon, aired on el-Jazeera, he preached: “We say to this West, which does not act reasonably, and does not learn its lessons: By Allah, you will be defeated…..The nation of Muhammad is gaining victory in Palestine. The nation of Muhammad is gaining victory in Iraq, and it will be victorious in all Arab and Muslim lands.
'Their multitudes will be defeated and turn their backs [and flee].' These fools will be defeated, the wheel of time will turn, and times of victory and glory will be upon our nation, and the West will be full of remorse, when it is too late….. Today, the Arab and Islamic nation is rising and awakening, and it will reach its peak, Allah willing. It will be victorious. It will link the present to the past. It will open up the horizons of the future. It will regain the leadership of the world. Allah willing, the day is not far off.” (20)
And these are not just idle words. As early as 2002, the FBI concluded that 50 to 100 trained Hamas and Hezbollah agents had already infiltrated America and have the potential of being operational as terrorist groups against American targets.
And Hamas may have even bigger plans. Reports indicate it is actively planning attacks against American forces, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait. Of particular note, it was a Palestinian with possible ties to Hamas, Ahmed Mustafa Ibrahim Ali, who shot three American corrections officers at a prison in Kosovo in April 2004 (21)
And Hamas is planning for the future as well. A story on its children’s website, el-Fateh, tells young future Hamas terrorists that they must strive for the re-conquest of Spain in order to liberate “al-Andalus” (the Arab term for Spain). (22)
Western responses to Hamas’ success in the January elections are divided. On one hand, Russia, France, the UN, and (not unexpectedly) most Arab nations, argue that as the government legally and democratically elected by the Palestinian people in fair and open elections, Hamas should be “given a chance.” Former President Jimmy Carter sums up the argument in a recent Washington Post article (23). The West should give Hamas the leeway to show the world that it can rise to the challenge of governance and offer to Israel some sort of negotiated settlement that Israel can be pressured to accept.
The most frequently offered defense of this whitewashing of terrorists and their terrorist government is the assertion that the onus of governance will moderate Hamas. The need to collect the garbage, make the trains run on time, handle finances, etc., will obligate Hamas to come to terms with the reality of a neighboring Jewish State and an outside world that no longer condones genocide (although this last assertion is somewhat dubious, given the recent failures of the UN and the West to act effectively regarding the Arab Moslem Sudanese genocide of black African Christian and Animist Sudanese in the south).
The weakness of this argument is that it has no basis in the reality of the Middle East. The PLO under Arafat was not tamed when it was given its “observer status” in the UN in 1974. Arafat did not become statesmanlike when he was elected “el-rais” of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. Hezbollah has not been tamed by its recent emergence as a political force in Lebanon.
Israel and the USA have so far withheld financial support and recognition. After 20 years of Hamas’ terror war, thousands of terror attacks, hundreds of Israelis dead and thousands more injured or maimed for life, scores of suicide bombings, more than one hundred attempted suicide bombings, and its leaders’ continued insistence that Hamas will never abandon its Covenant of genocide and world conquest, Israel is reluctant to accept third party assertions that Hamas will be an honest peace partner.
Seventy years ago, when the German people elected the Nazi party to power, the world looked the other way and ignored all that Hitler had written in Mein Kampf. Five years later 70,000,000 people had died. Today the world is witness to the second time that a free election has resulted in the rise to power of a terrorist party with a genocidal agenda fully outlined in its own shortened version of Mein Kampf. Will the world pretend that the Hamas Charter is irrelevant, even as Hamas leaders swear to fulfill its monstrous goals? Will Western powers pressure Israel to acquiesce to Hamas’ demands, make concessions, even as Hamas leaders declare that no concessions are adequate as long as the hated Jewish state exists?