Fathi Shaqaqi

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Fathi Shaqaqi
Shaqaqi of pij.jpg
Born 1951
Died 26 October 1995 (aged 43-44)
Nationality Palestinian
Religion Islam

Fathi Shaqaqi (Arabic: فتحي الشقاقي‎) (also Fathi Shikaki) (1951 – 26 October 1995), was the founder and leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine and a mastermind of suicide bombings in Israel.[1] Along with Sheik Odeh (a.k.a. Abd Al Aziz Awda), he formed the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s, initially as a branch of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.[2]


Fathi Shaqaqi was born, one of eight children of a refugee family,[3] in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after his family fled from Zarnuqa.[4] His mother died when he was fifteen.[5]

He attended Bir Zeit University in the Palestine territories, where he studied mathematics.[6] In 1970-1974, he taught mathematics in Jerusalem. In the 1970s he studied medicine in Cairo, training as a pediatrician and, on graduating in 1981, he returned to Gaza. While in Egypt, he was influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.[3] Until 1983, he worked as a doctor at Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem.[7] He was arrested in 1983, released the following year, and rearrested in 1986. In 1988 he was exiled to Lebanon.[8]

In an interview in January 1995 with Robert Fisk, Shaqaqi laughingly boasted of the Beit Lid massacre carried out under his direction that killed 21 Israelis. He called it "the biggest military attack ever inside Palestine," and giggled when asked if he knew about the attack in advance.[7]

Shaqaqi spoke Hebrew and kept a Hebrew dictionary on the bookshelf at his office decorated with photographs of suicide bombers on the outskirts of Damascus.[7]

Fathi Shaqaqi's brother Khalil, after teaching in several universities in the United States, Kuwait and Bahrein, returned after the Oslo Peace Accords to the West Bank and is founding director of the Nablus-based Center for Palestine Policy and Research, established in 1993.[3]


Shaqaqi was gunned down on 26 October 1995 in front of the Diplomat Hotel in Sliema, Malta by a hit team composed of two Mossad gunmen from a Bayonet unit that had previously killed Gerald Bull and Atef Bseiso.[9][10][11][12][13] The assassination happened a few days after Shaqaqi conducted an interview with journalist Ibrahim Hamidi of Al-Hayat Newspaper. Shaqaqi had been travelling under the false name Dr. Ibrahim Ali Shawesh.[14] He was on his way back from Tripoli after visiting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who promised to help finance Shaqaqi’s factions.[15] His assassination produced disarray in Islamic Jihad since no competent successor could replace Shaqaqi.[16] Islamic Jihad sources in Gaza confirmed that Shiqaqi had been traveling from Libya to his home in Damascus and made a stopover in Malta.[17]

Accounts vary slightly in details. In the Telegraph version by Gordon Thomas, two men, Gil and Ran, arrived in Malta on a late-afternoon flight, after receiving new passports respectively in Rome and Athens from local assistants (sayan), and checked into the Diplomat Hotel where Shaqaqi was staying. Another local sayan provided Ran with a motorcycle, which he told hotel staff he planned to use for touring the island. At the same time, a freighter from Haifa radioed the Maltese harbour authorities that it had developed engine trouble and would need to anchor off the island for repairs. A team of Mossad communications technicians on board sent the agents instructions through a radio in Gil's suitcase. These two kidon then drove up on the motorcycle while Shaqaqi was strolling along the waterfront and one of them, Gil, shot him six times in the head, a 'kidon signature'.[18] Bergman writes that Shaqaqi was out shopping, and was shot twice in the forehead and once in the back of the head, with a pistol fitted with a silencer and a device to catch the spent cartridges, and that the motorbike in question had been stolen the day before.[10]

Mossad Director-General Shabtai Shavit was reportedly on the ship from where he personally directed the operation. The Maltese police were only able to identify Shaqaqi's body three days later. His funeral in Damascus on 1 November 1995 was attended by some 40,000.[6][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Palestinians swear revenge for assassination". Herald Journal (Gaza City). 28 October 1995. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Who Are the Islamic Jihad? BBC 9 June 2003
  3. ^ a b c Christoph Reuter, My Life is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing, Princeton University Press,(2002) 2004 p.95.
  4. ^ My Life is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing, Christoph Reuter
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups, Stephen E. Atkins
  6. ^ a b "Fathi Shiqaqi". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c The doctor who finds death a laughing matter
  8. ^ Rachel M. Rudolf, 'The Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine (Hamas); A Successful Transition, but will it survive?' in R M Rudolph, Anisseh Van Engeland, From Terrorism to Politics, Ashgate 2013 pp.97-117, pp.99-100, n.14.
  9. ^ Yossi Melman, Meir Javedanfar, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran, Basic Books (2007) 2008 p.177.
  10. ^ a b Ronen Bergman The Secret War with Iran: The 30-Year Clandestine Struggle Against the World's Most Dangerous Terrorist Power, Simon & Schuster 2008 p.275.
  11. ^ Gordon Thomas, Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad, Macmillan (1999) 2010 pp.115-123.
  12. ^ Yossi Melman,'Mossad, MI6, the CIA and the case of the assassinated scientist,' The Independent, 30 November 2010
  13. ^ Ian Lesser, John Arquilla, Bruce Hoffman, David F. Ronfeldt, Michele Zanini, Countering the New Terrorism, Rand Corporation 1999 p.62 n.50.
  14. ^ Malta and the Accused Mathaba
  15. ^ Gordon Thomas,'Mossad's licence to kill,', Telegraph, 17 Feb 2010
  16. ^ David, Steven R. (2003). "Israel’s Policy of Targeted Killing". Ethics & International Affairs 17 (1). Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  17. ^ Leader of Islamic Jihad Reported Killed in Malta
  18. ^ Gordon Thomas,'Mossad's licence to kill,', Telegraph, 17 Feb 2010
  19. ^ Bio of Fathi Shiqaqi from the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Jerusalem

External links[edit]