Pij International Terrorism Pij (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) Thesis

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international Terrorism

PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad): History, motivations, tactics, political goals, ideology, and violent actions

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The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was created in 1979 as an alternative to the Egyptian Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood. Its founders were the Egyptian students Fathi Shaqaqi and Abd al-Aziz Awda (Fletcher 2009). While the Muslim Brotherhood was considered one of the most radical of all Palestinian terrorist organizations at the time, the PIJ's founders viewed it as too moderate. The PIJ instead offered a religious 'solution' to the problem of secular government in Egypt as well as to the 'problem' of Israeli control of the land that the PIJ believed should be 'Palestine.' Contrary to the pan-Islamicist view that Arab governments had to unite to liberate Palestine, the PIJ and other jihadists groups believed that liberation for the region from Western influence would only occur after the liberation of the nation of Palestine from Israel's dominion. Liberation was defined as total eradication of the land of Israel in the PIJ's terms. "The jihad movements rejected the belief, prevalent in the Arab world at the time, that the unification of the Islamic world was a prerequisite for the liberation of Palestine." (Donovan 2001). The liberation of Palestine would be the deciding factor that united the Arab and Muslim world into a single great Islamic state, doing away with divisions between Muslims, nations, and rival factions within the Middle East. The PIJ thus has had a violent, religious, and uncompromisingly utopian vision to justify its violent activities and aims over the years. It believed Palestine must be created and Israel had to be destroyed before all the nations could come together in a state of Islamic peace and brotherhood.

Thesis on Pij International Terrorism Pij (Palestinian Islamic Jihad): Assignment

This pro-jihad, pan-Islamic ideal is reflected in the peculiarly accepting attitude of the PIJ in terms of its ideology and funding. Although the PIJ's formal religious affiliation is Sunni, which has traditionally been opposed to Shiite Islam, the group has taken both funding and inspiration from Shiite sources. According to the U.S. State Department, more so than even the Sunni-led government of Syria, Iran is the source of much of the organization's financial support (Fletcher 2008). Although the PLO opposed the Iranian Shah regime, supported its overthrow, and even trained militants within PLO raining camps, Christian leaders within the PLO urged Yasser Arafat, the PLO's leader at the time, to be cautious in terms of their expressed support of Iran and Shiite-dominant organizations (Yodfat & Arnon-Ohanna, 1981, p. 12). The PIJ did not have the same scruples.

The emblem of the Islamic Jihad depicts "in the center, on a background of the Dome of the Rock, the map of greater Palestine is represented flanked by assault rifles" (Oreck 2009). The belief in the validity of suicide bombing promulgated by the organization is also manifest in the words on its emblem "Allah is great," which are "usually the last words of a suicide bomber" (Oreck 2009). This uncompromising attitude has often brought the PIJ has into conflicts with mainstream Palestinian leadership organizations. Even during the intifada, a non-terrorist movement to put pressure on Israel, and one of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's more successful public relations ventures, the PIJ refused to capitulate to the official Palestinian leadership's demands for a less violent strategy (Oreck 2009). Instead, it deployed terrorist attacks in the Gaza Strip, in defiance of the express wishes of the PLO.

The PIJ was only labeled as a U.S. State Department terrorist organization in 1997, but the PIJ has long been a threat to Israeli civilian and military personnel and moderate Arab states. By definition, the PIJ is a threat because it will only accept the restoration of 'historic Palestine,' and will not accept a secular government, or even a government that accommodates Palestinian Christians in other Arab nations (Oreck 2009). Thus it refuses to negotiate with Israel on any terms given its total opposition to the state of Israel's existence. "PIJ members sanctify the land because of its historical significance to Islam" and no other religions (Fletcher 2008). Even Hamas will participate in the political peace negotiation process between Israelis and Palestinians, but not the PIJ. The PIJ also opposed the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the mainstream Palestinian leadership (Fletcher 2008). But while the PIJ is a rival militant group, in competition with Hamas (more so than the PLO, which attracts a different economic and ideological base), the PIJ offers no economic aid or social services to the Palestinian people. This is another reason its base of support is so much smaller than that of Hamas. The commitment to Hamas is rooted in economic as well as theological and political sources given the poverty of the conditions of the Palestinians in the territories, but the PIJ rejects (or cannot afford) to extend such services.

The PIJ's extreme religious views have also caused it to come into conflict with mainstream Arab society and governments, especially more secular and Westernized nations such as Egypt. The Egypt-based PIJ's estrangement from Egypt began "when the Egyptian government expelled the PIJ to the Gaza Strip after learning of their close relations with radical Egyptian students who assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981" (Oreck 2009). Sadat, of course, was famous for negotiating a peaceful settlement between Egypt and Israel, an act which, in the PIJ's leadership's eyes, made Sadat a traitor. The PIJ opposes all moderate Arab governments like Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt because of their less militant relations with Israel and the secular cultures of these societies. The PIJ has continued to carry out attacks in Egypt with particular vehemence, "attacking a tour bus in Egypt in February 1990 that killed 11 people, including nine Israelis. PIJ agents were arrested in Egypt in September 1991" in Israel "while attempting to enter the country to conduct terrorism" (Oreck 2009).

When Israel attempted to drive the PIJ to Lebanon in the late 1980s, the PIJ reorganized, "maintaining close contacts with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards unit stationed in Lebanon and with Hezbollah" (Oreck 2009). The PIJ continued to launch attacks in Israel. The PIJ's preferred method of intimidation was and continues to be suicide bombings "targeting civilians and military personnel, although the frequency of attacks inside Israeli territory has decreased since the construction of security barriers around Gaza" (Fletcher 2008). Some of their most violent attacks have been a "March 1996 suicide bomb at a Tel Aviv shopping mall killed thirteen and injured seventy-five more" Israelis and "a January 2007 suicide attack at an Eliat bakery" that killed three Israelis (Fletcher 2008).

In America, the name of the PIJ is not as notorious as, for example, Al Qaida as "there have been no direct attacks on U.S. properties or citizens -- some have died in attacks -- although the PIJ threatened to attack the U.S. embassy if it was relocated to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv" (Oreck 2009). Also, this is no guarantee against future attacks, as the PIJ considers America its sworn enemy because of the U.S. support for Israel. In the Palestinian territories, the influence of the PIJ is judged to be relatively narrow: "it has some influence in the Gaza Strip, mainly in the Islamic University, but not in a way that can endanger the dominant position of Hamas as the leading Islamic Palestinian organization" (Fletcher 2008).

The PIJ has been a thorn in many Arab government's sides as well as Israel's, but it is officially based in Damascus. "Shaqaqi remained the head of the organization until his 1995 death in Malta, allegedly at the hands of Israeli agents" (Fletcher 2008). "He was replaced by Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, a British-educated Palestinian, who taught Middle Eastern courses at the University of South Florida from 1990 to 1995.Eight leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were indicted by federal authorities in 2003 on fifty charges, while only one, Sami al-Arian, was arrested and sent to trial. Al-Arian has denied having links to terrorism" (Fletcher 2008). In another indication of the wide outreach of the PIJ, al-Arian taught at South Florida University as a tenured professor in computer science, is a father of three with established ties in the Florida community, and even campaigned for George W. Bush in 2000. "Al-Arian…acted as the secretary for the group's governing body" (Feds, 2003, CNN). He is currently under federal indictment: "The indictment alleges Al-Arian made wire transfers of tens of thousands of dollars to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and relatives of the group's members jailed for their involvement in terror attacks in Israel and Gaza in the 1990s" (Feds, 2003, CNN). In 2007 in South Florida, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah was also indicted for similar reasons. He "taught Middle East studies for two semesters at the Tampa commuter school. In October, he was named the leader of Islamic Jihad, one of the Middle East's most violent terrorist groups" (McGoingle 2007).

Both men have denied any terrorist activity, and the FBI investigation regarding their involvement is ongoing. Neither man is accused of committing acts of physical violence, but… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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