Terrorist Organization Profile:
|حركة الجهاد الاسالمي في فلسطين|
|Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami Fi Filastin|
|Israel, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank/Gaza|
|Less than 1,000 members|
|Iran provides an estimated $2 million of state-sponsored funding to PIJ annually|
|The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni, Islamist, religious movement that originated in Egypt and seeks broad social, moral, and political reforms based upon Islam. The PIJ is one faction within a loosely organized, highly secretive group of Islamic Jihad movements that span the Middle East.
The PIJ was founded in the late 1970s by a group of radical Palestinian activists living in Egypt. This group of activists, led by Fathi Shaqaqi and Sheikh Abd al-Aziz Awda, believed that the Muslim Brotherhood movement had become too moderate and had abandoned the Palestinian cause. Inspired by the Shi'a Islamic revolution in Iran; the PIJ blended Palestinian nationalism, Sunni Islamic fundamentalism, and Shi'a revolutionary thought into its ideological agenda. PIJ believes that the annihilation of Israel and liberation of all of Palestine are prerequisites for recreating a pan-Islamic empire. PIJ stresses that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not a national dispute over territory but rather a fundamentally religious conflict. The group rejects any political arrangements or diplomatic activity to solve the conflict. PIJ believes that jihadist violence will inspire Palestinians to action and lead to the eventual destruction of Israel.
The PIJ initially operated out of Egypt, but after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981 by Egyptian radicals, the PIJ leadership was exiled to the Gaza Strip. In the early 1980s, PIJ carried out a series of spectacular attacks on Israeli soldiers in Gaza. During the first Palestinian Intifada that began in 1987, the PIJ leadership was exiled to Lebanon. This allowed many PIJ leaders to establish direct contact with Iranian officials for the first time through the Islamic Republic's embassies in Beirut and Damascus. PIJ operatives soon began training at Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, under the supervision of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. PIJ operatives stationed in Lebanon also carried out some joint operations with Hezbollah against Israeli forces in south Lebanon during the 1990s.
In 1989, Shaqaqi established PIJ's headquarters in Damascus, where it has remained since. While Syrian officials have continually stressed the informational character of the Damascus PIJ office, the office has directed PIJ funding and coordinated terrorist operations in the West Bank and Gaza. In addition, it is widely believed that Syria allows Iranian weaponry to pass through its territory in route to Palestinian militant groups in the Palestinian territories, such as PIJ.
PIJ strongly opposed the 1993 Oslo Accords and attempted to derail the peace process by committing a number of terrorist attacks against Israel. Israel dealt PIJ a severe blow in 1995 with its assassination of Shaqaqi in Malta. However, with the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada in Sep. 2000, PIJ sprang back to life. Since 2000, it has claimed responsibility for scores of terrorist attacks in Israel. In part, this has reflected the group's greater coordination with other Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas and the Palestinian security services. Another critical factor in PIJ's revival has been an increase in Iranian funding.
|PIJ remains a relatively small organization with a limited base of support. This limited support partly stems from PIJ's exclusive focus on terrorist attacks and unwillingness to offer impoverished Palestinians a network of social services like Hamas does. The PIJ's prominence also has fallen since 1995, when Shaqaqi was gunned down, purportedly by Israeli Mossad agents. Ramadan Shallah, who replaced Shaqaqi as PIJ's leader, lacks the charisma of Shaqaqi. The PIJ's worldwide activities have further been hampered by a series of arrests and indictments in the U.S. following the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks. Also, the construction of security fences by Israel along both the West Bank and Gaza border has made it more difficult for PIJ to execute terrorist attacks in Israel proper. Still, PIJ remains dedicated to the violent destruction of Israel, shows no interest in joining the political process, and will likely continue its attempts to injure Israeli civilians and military personnel through acts of terrorism.|
- al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- Ally
- al-Fatah -- Rival
- al-Quds Brigades -- Faction
- Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) -- Rival and Ally
- Hamas -- Rival and Ally
- Hezbollah -- Ally
- Islamic Renewal Movement -- Ally (Suspected)
- Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) -- Ally
- Sami al-Ghul Brigades -- Supported Cause
U.S. Government Designations
|Yes (in 2005)|
Learn more about these U.S. Department of State classifications:
Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL)
Other Governments' Designations