Hamas

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    750px-Flag_of_Hamas.png

    The Flag of Hamas

     Status: Active
     AKA: Abadallah Azzam Units National Islamic Salvation Party, HAMAS, Harakat al Muqawama al Islamiyya, Izz al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades (military wing), The Islamic Resistance Movement, Zeal
     Formed:   1987
     Areas of  Operation:   Israel; Gaza, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Syria (Headquarters), United Kingdom, United States
     Ideology:   Nationalist (Palestinian), Religious (Islamist – Sunni)
    Leader:   Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister 
    Group Affiliates: Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), Liberation Party, Hezbollah, HAMAS student movement (the Islamic Block), Al-Muhajiroun, Interpal (Islamic charity), Al-Qaeda, Hebron Muslim Youth Association, Islamic Association for Palestine (Dallas, TX), Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (Islamic charity – Dallas, TX)
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    Organizational History 

    HAMAS’s publicly stated purpose is the establishment of a Palestinian/Islamic state in the lands that comprise the State of Israel, West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.  Ancillary aims of the group include undermining the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and forcing the Israeli government to relinquish its control over lands in the area that are considered to be occupied, including Jerusalem.  HAMAS wants a new government installed that rules according to Islamic tenets. According to International Affairs, HAMAS is not a “one track” organization completely opposed to a settlement with Israel in all shapes and forms.  In fact, it has been suggested that the group has shown willingness, through its statements and political activity, to conduct cost-benefit analyses before making decisions which may not align with a more one-sided fanatical ideology [1]

    The Motto of HAMAS:

    Allah is its Goal / The Messenger is its Leader / The Qur’an is its Constitution / Jihad is its methodology, and / Death for the sake of Allah is its most coveted desire [2]

    HAMAS was founded in 1987 after the beginning of the first intifada in the Israeli Occupied Territories. The group began as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group founded in 1928 in Egypt by Hasan al-Banna with the goal of working towards the establishment of an Islamic state in Muslim countries. The Brotherhood had actually been active in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for decades. Al-Banna had sent his brother there to spread the group’s message in 1935. Up until the 1980s, the Brotherhood maintained a policy of slowly building up the area’s Islamist current though grass-roots type work, such as the construction of Mosques and clinics (something HAMAS has deftly seized upon). After the unexpected eruption of the first intifada in 1987, the Brotherhood held a series of meetings to determine how best to address the situation. On December 14, 1987, the group issued a statement urging Palestinians to resist the Israelis. Later, HAMAS considered this to be its first statement, though the group’s name was not used. The new organization was identified by its current name in January 1988 [3] HAMAS’s ideology and beliefs were codified in its charter, which was publicly issued on August 18, 1988 [4] .HAMAS won a resounding victory in the Palestinian legislative election on January 25, 2006, winning 74 of the 132 seats of Palestinian Parliament.  Ismail Haniya has since been installed as the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, and Mahmoud Zahar is now the Palestinian foreign minister.  The group has been under pressure from Western nations, due to its refusal to recognize Israel. In 2008, the Israeli government launched a major operation, crippling a large portion of HAMAS’s infrastructure in Gaza.  Soon after, both parties declared a unilateral ceasefire in order to revisit a more peaceful solution to their problems.  Reports claim that HAMAS is using the time to increase recruitment, funding, and weapons accumulation, possibly to undermine the Palestinian National Authority. While many Arab countries recognize HAMAS as a legitimate political party, the United States designated the group as a known Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2009.

    Structure

    HAMAS has both a hierarchical leadership that dictates group activity and a clandestine cellular structure that operates in Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip, and abroad.  The bureaucratic organizational elements of HAMAS include a number of committees and bureaus such as the political committee, the social/charitable committee, and the military committee, called the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (al-Qassam).  The political bureau sets policies and guidelines for HAMAS terrorist activities.  The group has benefited internationally because many countries consider the group’s political and social wings distinct from the military wings; however, this approach has been rejected by the group. Even the now deceased leader Ahmad Yasin has stated that the wings cannot be considered separate from the body.  In other words, HAMAS is a single organization with all the parts interconnected. [5]

    Funding

    HAMAS has vast financial resources (estimated at tens of millions of dollars annually). The money is supplied by various funds and institutions in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Western Europe, and from other, secondary sources. HAMAS also invests some of the money in Palestinian welfare. HAMAS is associated with many charities, including the notorious Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, based out of Dallas, Texas.  The group has been in financial trouble since the Palestinian elections, due to the suspension of aid from Western nations, but several Arab countries have begun to provide additional funds.

    Recruitment

    Charity committees, mosque classes, student unions, sport clubs, and other organizations run by HAMAS all serve as places where group activists recruit Palestinian youth for positions in terrorist training courses.  HAMAS counts on Palestinians both in the Middle East and Western countries to commit acts of terrorism, as well as to serve as conduits for communication and financing operations.  A recruitment strategy used by the group is the establishment of security committees in foreign countries that compile information on Palestinian men and women, including their susceptibility to recruitment, subjects of study, projected dates of graduation, and when they are expected to return to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  In the second Palestinian intifada, suicide bombings by Islamist groups have served as a method of recruitment; in this sense, HAMAS terrorist tactics serve a dual role of stemming unending Israeli aggression (in the minds of many Palestinians), and to give the group legitimacy as the provider of Palestinian security and thus the organization for young recruits to join. [6]

    Tactics 

    At the start of the second intifada, Palestinian terrorist groups were more prone to using guerrilla tactics such as ambushes and armed assaults from vehicles.  These early attacks often targeted poorly protected military targets such as Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) outposts.  This tactical repertoire has changed substantially in the last few years as suicide bombings have become much more common and soft targets more susceptible to bombings. [7] HAMAS suicide bombings have caused more panic due to the use of bombers infected with Hepatitis B; in effect, the bombers used their condition as a force multiplier and a cheap biological weapon [8] . HAMAS has various weapons and explosives at their disposal, including but not limited to: M-16 rifles, Kalashnikovs, Uzi machine guns, and Qassam Rockets (homemade; come in three different models that are consecutively more effective). 

    Publications

    Filisteen Almuslima(Muslim Palestine)

    Gallery

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    Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of Hamas [9]

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    Hamas makes extensive use of television propaganda [10]

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    Hamas enjoys a great deal of public support, allowing them to operate openly in friendly territory [11]

     

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    Hamas Guerillas are well armed and train extensively [12]

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    Hamas supporters are indoctrinated at a young age [13]

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    Active particpation by women is not uncommon [14] 

     

     

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    Suicide bombers are highly revered by Hamas supporters [15]

     

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    Members and supporters of Hamas are not shy about displaying their allegiance in public [16]

     

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    An alternative flag used by Hamas[17]

     

     

    References

    1. Gunning, J. (2004). Peace with HAMAS? The transforming potential of political participation. International Affairs, 80(2), 233-255. Retrieved on June 9th, 2011 at [1]
    2. Sandhu, A. (2003). Islam and political violence in the charter of the Islamic resistance movement (HAMAS) in Palestine. Review of International Affairs, 3(1), 1-12 Retrieved on Jun 9th, 2011 at [2].
    3. 3. Abu-Amr, Z. (1993). HAMAS: A historical and political background. Journal of Palestine Studies, 22(4), 5-19. Retrieved on June 9th, 2011 at [3]
    4. Mishal, S. (2000). The Palestinian HAMAS: Vision, violence and coexistence. New York: Columbia University Press. Retrieved on June 9th, 2011 at [4]
    5. Levitt, M. (2004). HAMAS from cradle to grave. Middle East Quarterly, 11(1), 1-12. Retrieved on June 9th, 2011 at [5]
    6. Bloom, M. (2004). Palestinian suicide bombing: Public support, market share, and outbidding. Political Science Quarterly, 119(1), 61-88 retrieved on June 9th, 2011 at [6]
    7. Luft, G. (2002). The Palestinian H-Bomb. Foreign Affairs, 81(4), 2-7. Retrieved on June 9th, 2011 at [7]
    8. Schollmeyer, J. (2005). Blood feuds. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 61(6), 8-9. Retrieved on June 9th, 2011, at [8]
    9. Image retrieved on June 8th, 2011 from [9]
    10. Image retrieved on June 8th, 2011 from [10]
    11. Image retrieved on June 8th, 2011 from [11]
    12. Image retrieved on June 8th, 2011 from [12]
    13. Image retrieved on June 8th, 2011 from [13]
    14. Image retrieved on June 8th, 2011 from [14]
    15. Image retrieved on June 8th, 2011 from [15]
    16. Image retrieved on June 8th, 2011 from [16]
    17. Image retrieved on June 8th, 2011 from [17]

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