al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades

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The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades ( Arabic كتائب شهداء الأقصى, DMG Katāʾib Šuhadāʾ al-Aqṣā ) are a Palestinian underground organization that serve as the armed arm of Fatah .


The "Al Aksa Brigades" first appeared in June 2001 under this name. Their first major attack was on December 12, 2001, in which 11 Israelis were killed and around 30 injured. An Israeli bus was stopped by two bomb explosions as it entered Immanuel and then shot at. Another person died on March 25, 2002 from her injuries.

In March 2002, after a fatal suicide attack in Jerusalem, the US State Department added the group to the list of foreign terrorist organizations , and the European Union also lists the organization as a terrorist organization . It was one of the most active groups in the 2nd Intifada and arose shortly after it began. Originally, the group had vowed to limit itself to a guerrilla fight against the Israeli army and only want to attack Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The brigades named themselves after the al-Aqsa mosque , one of the holiest places in Islam and a symbol of the Palestinian independence movement. After Arafat's death in November 2004, the brigades announced that they would from now on use the name of the Brigades of Shahid Yasir Arafat . They also made a missile they named after Yasser Arafat. According to the organization, the non-steerable rocket, which has a range of up to 18 kilometers, should symbolize “the love and admiration” for its historical leader.

The members of the brigades were mainly recruited from the Fatah-Tanzim , a militant youth group within Fatah. Israel criticized that neither Fatah nor the Palestinian Authority had made any attempt to stop the brigades' attacks. In April 2002, Israel arrested Marwan Barghuthi , a leader of the group, and sentenced him in August to five life sentences and 40 years in prison for five murders, conspiracy to murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Barghuti was also Secretary General of Fatah in the West Bank.

In addition to Israelis, the victims of the brigades include Palestinians. In the early months of 2004, the group was found responsible for a number of attacks on journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. An attack on the offices of the Arab television channel al-Arabiya was carried out by men who described themselves as members of the brigades. This was followed by a general strike by Palestinian journalists on February 9, 2004 to protest the increasing violence. In addition to opponents of Arafat, journalists, moderates and alleged collaborators , she also killed Ghassan Shakaas' brother, the mayor of Nablus. Schakaas then announced his resignation from office in protest against the PA's lack of action against the riot by the armed forces in the city.

The brigades were also prominently involved in the July 2004 Gaza uprising, in which a Palestinian officer was kidnapped and the PA security headquarters and Palestinian police officers were attacked by armed men. These uprisings resulted in the Palestinian cabinet declaring a state of emergency. Some media then described the situation in the Palestinian Territories as chaotic and anarchic.

The brigades carried out several actions with the Islamist Hamas; especially in the Gaza Strip. Other groups they worked with were the Palestinian Islamic Jihad , the Popular Resistance Committees , the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades and, in the West Bank, even Hezbollah .

The residents of the Qassam rocket launch sites in the Gaza Strip were often against these actions by Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades because they feared Israeli actions against the launch sites. On July 23, 2004, a 15-year-old Arab boy was killed by Palestinian terrorists while he and his family tried to prevent their home from being used for a shooting down. Four other people were injured in the incident.

In October 2005, when the President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the occupying regime had to become history, the brigades issued a statement saying that they “are honest with the positions and statements of the Iranian President who have done so in an honorable way called for Israel to be removed from the map, identified and fully supported ”.

Most recently, the brigades confessed to the murder of a Jewish couple and their children in the Itamar settlement , which occurred on the night of March 11-12, 2011. The perpetrator entered the family home at night and stabbed five of the eight family members (including an infant).

Relationship with Arafat and Fatah

The relationship with Arafat was not clear for a long time due to conflicting information from leaders of the group. The group was not officially supported by Arafat and Fatah in 2002, although members of the brigade are also in the habit of being members of Arafat's Fatah. However, Maslama Thabit , one of the group's leaders, told USA Today , “We are receiving our instructions from Fatah. Our commander is Yasir Arafat himself. ”Just days after Thabit's testimony, however, Nasir Badawi told the New York Times that the brigades“ respect [their] leader, ”and that the authority to“ carry out attacks remains with the leadership of the al- Aqsa Martyrs Brigades ”. Badawi added that at the time, Arafat had never asked the group to stop the suicide bombings that Arafat publicly condemned.

In November 2003, a BBC journalist exposed a Fatah payment of $ 50,000 a month to the brigades. In addition, Israel published documents alleged to have been found in the muqataa . The documents also appeared to prove that Arafat was funding the organization's terrorist attacks. US President George W. Bush later used these documents as an argument in his appeal to oust Arafat.

Finally, in June 2004, Ahmad Qurai , then Prime Minister of the PA, declared that the brigades were part of Fatah, to which it was obliged and which bore full responsibility for them. In July 2004, Qurai also said that the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of Fatah, would not be disbanded and that Fatah in general would never disband its military wing.

Consequently, on December 18, 2003, Fatah invited the leaders of the brigades to become members of the Fatah Council, officially recognizing the organization as part of Fatah.


The brigades are responsible for dozens of suicide attacks. They also shot at Israeli vehicles in the West Bank. Known assassinations were:

  • December 12, 2001 in Immanuel , twelve Israelis killed and around 30 injured.
  • March 2, 2002: Beit Jisra'el, Jerusalem - 11 dead.
  • March 9, 2002: A firearm and hand grenade attack in Netanya that kills two Israelis and injures 50.
  • January 5, 2003: Tel Aviv south central bus station - 22 dead.
  • January 29, 2004: Rechawija, Jerusalem, bus route 19 - 11 dead.
  • March 14, 2004: Port of Ashdod - 10 dead. (Together with Hamas .)
  • October 16, 2005: blamed the brigades for a fire attack on the Gush-Etzion crossing in which three Israelis were killed and three others were injured.

Children were used in some of the brigade attacks. On March 24, 2004, a Palestinian youth named Hussam Abdu was detained at an Israeli Forces checkpoint with an explosives belt strapped on. As a result, a militant cell from the brigades in Nablus was uncovered and arrested. On September 23, 2004, another 15-year-old suicide bomber was arrested by the Israeli army.

List of members

  • Nayif Abu Sharah : Local commander in Nablus (killed by Israeli forces)
  • Marwan Barghuti : Commander-in-Chief (arrested by the Israel Defense Forces and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for multiple murders and terrorism)
  • Sirhan Sirhan : Killed five people, including a mother with her two children in Kibbutz Metzer (not to be confused with the assassin on Robert F. Kennedy )
  • Zakariya Zubaidi : Local commander in Jenin , known for his alleged relationship with Israeli Tali Fahima .

Individual evidence

  1. “The Green Prince” in an interview. “Everyone must make sacrifices for peace”. In: The Standard . July 12, 2010
  2. Background: The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger .de. January 18, 2002, accessed July 28, 2019 .
  3. 17 dead in a new wave of violence in the Middle East In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger .de, December 12, 2001, accessed on August 4, 2018.
  4. Chronology of Terrorist Attacks in Israel Part VII: 2001 In:, English, accessed on August 4, 2018.
  5. EU list for combating terrorism of July 15, 2008 (PDF) January 11, 2008
  6. Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1071 of the Council of 30 July 2018 for the implementation of Article 2 (3) of Regulation (EC) No. 2580/2001 on specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and organizations to combat terrorism and to repeal of the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/468 , accessed on August 18, 2018
  7. El-Aqsa martyrs build “Arafat” rocket , Focus, December 26, 2004
  8. BBC : Teen dies in Palestinian clash July 23, 2004
  9. Attempted Kassam Launch Leads to the Death of an Arab Child ( Memento from August 19, 2004 in the Internet Archive ) July 23, 2004
  10. On the translation problem, cf. Eckart Schiewek: The controversial speech of Ahmadinejad. In: Germany Archive Online. August 22, 2008.
  11. ^ Ynetnews Al-Aqsa: We identify with Iranian remark July 20, 2005
  12. Fatah committed to Aksa Martyrs ( Memento of July 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) June 20, 2004
  13. Arafat Blames Israel for Tel Aviv Bombing July 14, 2004
  15. 13 DIE IN TERROR ATTACKS ON SATURDAY. In: Israeli Embassy in Berlin . March 11, 2002, accessed August 9, 2019 .
  16. Haaretz : Heightened alert set for Yom Kippur; Afula attack thwarted ( Memento from October 10, 2004 in the Internet Archive ) September 4, 2004