HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)
HAMAS was formed in late 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Various HAMAS elements have used both political and violent means, including terrorism, to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel. HAMAS is loosely structured, with some elements working clandestinely and others working openly through mosques and social service institutions (including charities organized by HAMAS) to recruit members, raise money, organize activities, and distribute propaganda. HAMAS' strength is concentrated in the Gaza Strip and a few areas of the West Bank. HAMAS also has engaged in political activity, such as running candidates in West Bank Chamber of Commerce elections.
Organization activities. HAMAS is a large organization with tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers. HAMAS activists, especially those in the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have conducted many attacks—including large-scale suicide bombings—against Israeli civilian and military targets. In the early 1990s, HAMAS also targeted Fatah rivals and began a continuing practice of targeting suspected Palestinian collaborators. HAMAS increased operational activity in 2001 during the Intifadah, claiming numerous attacks against Israeli interests. HAMAS has not directly targeted U.S. interests and continues to confine its attacks to Israelis inside Israel and the territories.
HAMAS operates primarily in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. In August 1999, Jordanian authorities closed the group's Political Bureau offices in Amman, arrested its leaders, and prohibited the group from operating on Jordanian territory. HAMAS leaders are also present in other parts of the Middle East, including Syria, Lebanon, and Iran.
HAMAS receives funding from Palestinian expatriates, Iran, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states. Some fundraising and propaganda activity take place in Western Europe and North America.
█ FURTHER READING:
Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ > (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 < http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/10367.htm > (April 17, 2003).
U.S. Department of State. Annual Reports. < http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html > (April 16, 2003).