al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades

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al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades
كتائب شهداء الأقصى
LeaderYasser Arafat (former)
Dates of operation2000–present
Part ofFatah

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (Arabic: كتائب شهداء الأقصى, romanizedKatā'ib Shuhadā' al-'Aqṣā) is a coalition of Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank. The organization has been designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the European Union,[2][3] Canada,[4] Japan,[5] New Zealand,[6] and the United States.[7]


The leadership of the brigades and average members have identified themselves as the military wing of Fatah. On their website, and on posters, they post the Fatah emblem. The leadership of Fatah has said they never made a decision either to create the brigades, or make them the militant wing of Fatah. Since 2002, some leaders in Fatah have reportedly tried to get the brigades to stop attacking civilians.[8]

In November 2003, BBC journalists uncovered a payment by Fatah of $50,000 a month to al-Aqsa.[9] This investigation, combined with the documents found by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), led the government of Israel to draw the conclusion that the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have always been directly funded by Yasser Arafat. In June 2004, then Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei openly stated this: "We have clearly declared that the Aksa Martyrs' Brigades are part of Fatah. We are committed to them and Fatah bears full responsibility for the group."[10]

On 18 December 2003, Fatah asked the leaders of the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades to join the Fatah Council, recognizing it officially as part of the Fatah organization.[11]

Notable members

Notable members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade includes active militants and militants that were killed or arrested by the Israeli security forces.

Militant activities

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are responsible for numerous attacks in the West Bank, targeting both Israelis and Palestinians. In 2002, for example, they killed Ikhlas Khouli for collaborating with Israel.[14] In November and December 2003, they killed the brother of Ghassan Shakaa (the mayor of Nablus).[15] In February 2004, Shakaa filed his resignation from office in protest of the Palestinian Authority's lack of action against the armed militias "rampaging" the city.[16][17] During the first three months of 2004, a number of attacks on journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were blamed on the Brigades as well, including the attack on the Arab television station Al Arabiya's West Bank offices by masked men who identified themselves as members of the Brigades. Palestinian journalists in Gaza called a general strike on 9 February 2004 to protest this rising violence against journalists.[18]

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have taken prominent part in the July 2004 riots in the Gaza Strip, in which Palestinian officers were kidnapped and PA security headquarters buildings and policemen were attacked by gunmen.[19] These riots led the Palestinian cabinet to declare a state of emergency. One media outlet described the situation in the Palestinian Authority as anarchy and chaos.[citation needed]

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have carried out several joint attacks with the Islamist group Hamas. These attacks were committed mainly in the Gaza Strip.[20] The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have also carried out joint attack with other militant groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, The Popular Resistance Committees and with Hezbollah in the West Bank.

The European Union's Gaza offices were raided by 15 masked gunmen from al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades on 30 January 2006. They demanded apologies from Denmark and Norway regarding the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons and left 30 minutes later without shots fired or injuries.[21]

On 9 June 2007, in a failed assault on an IDF position at the Kissufim crossing between Gaza and Israel in a possible attempt to kidnap IDF soldiers, 4 armed members of the al-Quds Brigades – the military wing of Islamic Jihad – and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades – the military wing of Fatah -, used a vehicle marked with "TV" and "PRESS" insignias penetrated the border fence and assaulted a guard tower in what Islamic Jihad and the army said was a failed attempt to capture an Israeli soldier. IDF troops killed one militant, while the others escaped. The use of a vehicle that resembled a press vehicle evoked a sharp response from many journalists and news organizations, including the Foreign Press Association[22] and Human Rights Watch.[23]

On 14 July 2007, Zakaria Zubeidi, considered the local al-Aqsa leader for Jenin and the northern West Bank and has been wanted for many years for his armed activity against Israel, agreed to cease fighting against Israel[24] after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave conditional pardon for 178 prisoners from the PA territories.

Notable attacks

Some notable attacks (including suicide bombings) committed by the group were:

2007 amnesty deal

In July 2007, Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached an amnesty deal under which 178 al-Aqsa gunmen surrendered their arms to the Palestinian Authority, renounced future anti-Israel violence and were permitted to join Palestinian security forces.[33] Later agreements in 2007 and 2008 added more gunmen to the list of those granted amnesty in exchange for ending violence, eventually bringing the total to over 300.[34]

On 22 August 2007, according to Arutz Sheva, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade announced that it was backing out of its commitment and promise to refrain from attacks against Israel and the Israeli backed amnesty deal giving amnesty to 178 al-Aqsa gunmen who agreed to stop militant activities against Israel and surrender their weapons.[35] al-Aqsa said that it backed out of the deal due to the IDF's arrest of two militants who were supposed to be on the amnesty list. According to the IDF, they said they caught the two men at a checkpoint and said they were involved in "terrorist activity" which consequently mandated their arrest according to the stipulations of the amnesty deal. Shortly after backing out of the amnesty deal and its promise of stopping to attack Israel that Al Aqsa agreed to a month earlier, al-Aqsa gunmen in Gaza have announced that they are starting to launch hundreds of rockets and mortar shells at Israeli towns and cities and named the campaign, "Hole in the Wall II."[35]

Popular culture

In the Sacha Baron Cohen movie Brüno, the character Brüno interviewed Palestinian Christian Ayman Abu Aita, who was portrayed in the movie as a leader of the militant group. The group released a statement to a Jerusalem-based journalist saying that it was "very upset" that it had been featured in the film.[36] Abu Aita insists that he was tricked into appearing in the film and that he has never been involved with the Martyrs' Brigades. In an interview with Time, Abu Aita stated, "It is true that I was jailed in 2003 ... I was active in resisting the occupation, in non-violent ways."[37] After a clip of the interview was played on the Late Show with David Letterman, Ayman called Baron Cohen a "big liar".[citation needed] Abu Aita subsequently filed a $110 million lawsuit against Baron Cohen and David Letterman,[38] which was settled before trial.[39]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1], Official Journal of the European Union, 30 September 2005 Archived 5 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Kushner, Harvey (2002). Encyclopedia of Terrorism. Sage Publications Inc. p. 11. ISBN 9780761924081.
  4. ^ "Currently listed entities" Archived 19 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, 11 November 2006
  5. ^ "Japan's Foreign Policy in Major Diplomatic Fields" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Lists associated with Resolution 1373". New Zealand Police. 20 July 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)" Archived 17 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine, U.S. Department of State, 11 October 2005
  8. ^ Stork, Joe (2002). Erased in a Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli Civilians. Human Rights Watch. p. 78. Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
  9. ^ "Palestinian Authority funds go to militants". BBC News. 7 November 2003. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  10. ^ "Fatah committed to Aksa Martyrs". EU Funding. 20 April 2004. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  11. ^ "Palestinian Factions, CRS Report for Congress, Aaron D. Pina, 8 June 2005" (PDF).
  12. ^ "اغتيال قائد عسكري بارز في حركة فتح بطولكرم". Al Jazeera (in Arabic). 14 January 2002. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  13. ^ "West Bank: Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commander Ibrahim al-Nabulsi killed in Nablus". BBC News. 9 August 2022.
  14. ^ "Palestinians execute woman 'collaborator'". BBC. 25 August 2002. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  15. ^ "Not another day in Nablus". Weekly Ahram. 29 September 2004. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  16. ^ "AM Archive – Nablus Mayor resigns over lawlessness". Abc. 2004. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  17. ^ Middle East Information Center. "Conflicts, News, History, Religions and Discussions". Middleeast Info. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  18. ^ "Arafat adviser shot dead". Al Jazeera. 2 March 2004.
  19. ^ "Increased pressure on Arafat to reform PA or resign". Archived from the original on 25 May 2006. Retrieved 12 November 2005.
  20. ^ See also: Fatah–Hamas conflict
  21. ^ "Gaza EU offices raided by gunmen". BBC. 30 January 2006. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  22. ^ al-Mughrabi, Nidal (10 June 2007). "Gaza militants' "TV" sign draws reporters' anger". Reuters.
  23. ^ "Gaza: Armed Palestinian Groups Commit Grave Crimes". HRW. 12 June 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  24. ^ (in French)Un chef de guerre dépose les armes (translation: "A war chief lays down his arms")
  25. ^ Reeves, Phil (18 January 2002). "Bat mitzvah massacre in Israel leaves seven dead". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  26. ^ "Jerusalem bombing kills 9 bystanders". CNN. 2 March 2002. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  27. ^ " – Suicide bomber kills 8 in Jerusalem – Feb. 23, 2004". Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  28. ^ "Suicide bombers kill 10 at Israeli port". The Guardian. 15 March 2004. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  29. ^ Myre, Greg (30 May 2004). "Israel Says Children Are Used to Recruit Bombers". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2 August 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  30. ^ Harel, Amos (23 September 2004). "Heightened alert set for Yom Kippur; Afula attack thwarted". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  31. ^ "Israel clamps down after West Bank attacks". The Guardian. 17 October 2005.
  32. ^ Dahman, Hadas Gold, Abeer Salman, Ibrahim (29 March 2022). "Five people shot dead near Tel Aviv, the third attack in Israel in a week". CNN. Retrieved 20 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  33. ^ Greenberg, Joel (16 July 2007). "Militants Accept Amnesty". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  34. ^ "Report: Some 300 Gunmen Accept Israel's Amnesty Deal". Ynet. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  35. ^ a b HaLevi, Ezra (23 August 2007). "Fatah Claims Shooting Attack, Terrorists Break Amnesty Deal". Israel National News.
  36. ^ Brown, David; Kartik, Mehta (28 July 2009). "Terrorist threat to Sacha Baron Cohen over Brüno ridicule". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  37. ^ "Brüno's 'Terrorist' Speaks Out". Time. 28 July 2009. Archived from the original on 10 April 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  38. ^ Zongker, Brett (9 December 2009). "Ayman Abu Aita Sues 'Bruno,' Letterman for $110M". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  39. ^ "Bruno lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen settled". CBC News. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2017.

External links