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Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades

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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 Palestinian Authority. 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 Fatah 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 that the Al Aqsa brigades are part of the Fatah as well. The relation between the al Aqsa Brigades and Tanzim, 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 the group.

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 Bank.

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 West Bank, an apparently much more radical contingent has evolved in Gaza, where Salim Thabit leads the Hezbollah supported Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Imad Mughniyeh groups

Ami Isseroff

October 14, 2008  


Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: Recent history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

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Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades