Al Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades - The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (
Arabic: katāib shuhadā' al-aqsā كتائب شهداء
الأقصى) were evidently organized by Marwan Barghouti as a deniable tool for
perpetrating terror attacks that could be dissociated from the
They are named for the Al-Aqsa
mosque, belying their supposedly secular orientation.
Al Aqsa Martyrs were formed as a coalition of Palestinian militia. Though the groups are known as Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades only since 2001,
testimony of group members indicated that they coalesced from groups that
existed during the first Intifada in the 1980s. Since 2001, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades were responsible singly or in
partnership with other groups for 25 or more suicide bombings and terror
attacks. The al Aqsa brigades declare that they are part of the
and use the Fatah emblem at their Website. Operation Defensive Shield in April of 2002 uncovered
documentation indicating that the Palestinian authority funds the Al-Aqsa
Brigades, and this was later confirmed by the BBC.
Ahmad Qurei, then Palestinian Prime Minister, declared in 2004
Al Aqsa brigades are part of the Fatah as well. The relation between the al
Aqsa Brigades and
also led and probably founded by Barghouti, is not clear. Reportedly, Tanzim
members joined the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. For a time at least, the Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades evidently called themselves the Shahid Yasser Arafat Brigades,
after former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat,
but this name did not last.
In 2007, a large number of wanted Al-Aqsa brigades members
were granted amnesty
by an agreement Israel negotiated with the Palestinian Authority. The conditions
of the amnesty:
1. They will promise to refrain from terrorism and cut their links with
2. They will spend a week in holding areas of the PA, where they will not
be allowed to use cellular telephones or contact members of the group.
3. They will restrict their movements, for a three-month period, to the
area where they reside.
4. After three months, they will be allowed to move freely in the West
The amnestied members included Zaqaria Zbeidi, a central figure in Israel's
most wanted list and head of the Jenin cell of the al Aqsa martyr's brigade.
Zbeidi insisted that he would obey the agreement and abandon armed struggle. The
Israeli radicals, Tali Fahima, who had been jailed for her contacts with Zbeidi,
called him a "whore of the Shin Bet security service."
Many al Aqsa brigades members remain in Palestinian jails, because they
refused to abide by the terms of the amnesty. They agitate against the peace
process and threaten
renewal of violence.
Testimony of jailed former Al Aqsa Martyrs group members is revealing, since
it indicated that the armed groups began long before the violence of 2000. The
West Bank Al Aqsa Martyrs have or had several different groups. such as Tigers
and Night Riders, that each protected their "turf" like city gang members.
"During the first intifada, if the member of one group entered the other group's
territory, even by mistake, his fate would be like that of an IDF soldier,"
revealed a former member. In the West Bank, the Al Aqsa martyrs have been
formally dissolved. (Source)
While al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were originally primarily active in the
an apparently much more radical contingent has evolved in
where Salim Thabit leads the
Brigades, Imad Mughniyeh groups.
October 14, 2008
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
Further Information: Recent history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict