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Fedayeen (Arabic: فِدائيّين fidāʼīyīn [fɪdaːʔɪjiːn] ″self-sacrificers″)[note A] is an Arabic term used to refer to various Islamic military groups willing to sacrifice themselves for a larger campaign.
During the 1940s, groups of Egyptian civilians formed fedayeen groups to contest the British occupation of Egypt, which by then was limited to the region against the Suez Canal. The British Army had established numerous military outposts around the canal zone, which many Egyptians viewed as a violation of their national sovereignty. This opposition was not supported by the Egyptian government, though these fedayeen groups held broad support among the general public in Egypt.
Known by the same name, they operated inside the capital city, Asmara, during the last 15–20 years of the armed struggle in Eritrea against the Ethiopian government. They operated secretly and eliminated people who were considered dangerous to the struggle to gain Eritrean independence, which lasted from 1961 to 1991.
Two very different groups used the name Fedayeen in recent Iranian history. The Fadayan-e Islam has been described as "one of the first real Islamic fundamentalist organizations in the Muslim world". It was founded by Navab Safavi in 1946 for the purpose of demanding strict application of the sharia and assassinating those it believed to be apostates and enemies of Islam. After several successful assassinations it was suppressed in 1956 and several leading members were executed.
A Marxist-leaning activist group known as the Fedayeen (Fedayân in Persian language) was founded in 1971 and based in Tehran. Operating between 1971 and 1983, the Fedayeen carried out a number of political assassinations in the course of the struggle against the Shah of Iran, after which the group was suppressed.
In 1979 the Iranian People's Fedâi Guerrillas split from the Organization of Iranian People's Fedaian (Majority).
Beginning in 1995, Iraq established a paramilitary group known as the Fedayeen Saddam, loyal to the then president Saddam Hussein and the Ba'athist government. The name was chosen to imply a connection with the Palestinian Fedayeen. In July 2003, personnel records for the Fedayeen organization in Iraq were discovered in the basement of the former Fedayeen headquarters in east Baghdad near the Rasheed Air Base. At the time of the discovery, the Assyrian Democratic Movement occupied the building; after an extensive cataloging process, an operation was conducted in Baghdad resulting in several individuals being detained.
Nizari Ismaili state
Hassan-i-Sabbah (circa 1050–1124), who founded the Nizari Ismaili state in Persia and Syria, first coined the term to refer to the Hashshashins. Fidāʼīyīn is the plural of fidāʼī, which means "sacrifice." It is widely understood as "those willing to sacrifice themselves for God". The group carried out an armed struggle against the Seljuk empire.
Palestinian fedayeen are militants of a nationalist orientation from among the Palestinian people. The fedayeen made efforts to infiltrate territory in Israel in order to strike military as well as civilian targets in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
Members of these groups were living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank or in neighboring Lebanon and Syria. Prior to Israel's seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War, these areas, originally destined for a Palestinian state, were under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation, respectively. After Israel's Operation Black Arrow in 1955, the Palestinian fedayeen were incorporated into an Egyptian army unit.
During this time (1948 – c. 1980), the word entered international usage and was frequently used in the Arab media as a synonym for great militancy. In the Israeli Hebrew press of this time the term (פַדַאיוּן fada'iun) had highly negative connotations and was associated with terrorism. Since the mid-1960s and the rise of more organized and specific militant groups, such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, the word has fallen out of usage, but not in the historical context.
Turkey/Late Ottoman Empire
The Committee of Union and Progress conducted assassination campaigns and called its assassins "fedai", which according to Mehmed Selahaddin was derived from Greek filiyas elenikis desmos anton meaning "this is the tie of Greek friendship".
Within the context of Turkish history, the term fedailer is often associated with the Late Ottoman or Early Republican irregular forces, known as: Kuva-yi Milliye. Those most committed Unionists who would enforce the Central Committee's regime were also known as fedailer.
- Palestinian political violence
- Arab–Israeli conflict
- Armenian fedayi – an Armenian cognate, describing an irregular Armenian self-defense militia in the Ottoman Empire 1880s–1920s
- Tony Rea and John Wright (1993). The Arab-Israeli Conflict. Oxford University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-19-917170-5.
- Middle East Glossary - The Israel Project: FEDAYEE Archived 2012-04-27 at the Wayback Machine
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- "Which Came First- Terrorism or Occupation - Major Arab Terrorist Attacks against Israelis Prior to the 1967 Six-Day War". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 31 March 2002.
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- Filiu, Jean-Pierre (2014). Gaza: A History. Oxford University Press. p. 92.
- Aloni, Udi (2011). "Samson the Non-European". Studies in Gender and Sexuality. 12 (2): 124–133. doi:10.1080/15240657.2011.559441. S2CID 143362550.
- Four Killed In Ambush, Vancouver Sun
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- Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 2004, provides the most up-to-date breakdown of the reasons for the flight
- Haya Regev, Dr. Avigail Oren, The operations in the 1950s, University of Tel Aviv, 1995
- Glubb, John Bagot. A Soldier with the Arabs. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1957. p. 289.
- 1948-1967- Major Terror Attacks. Mfa.gov.il. Retrieved on 2010-09-29.
- Which Came First- Terrorism or Occupation – Major. Mfa.gov.il. Retrieved on 2010-09-29.
- Remembrance Day Background. jafi.org (2005-05-15). Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
- Fedayeen Attacks 1951–1956. jafi.org (2005-05-15). Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
- The 1956 Sinai Campaign Archived 2007-10-16 at the Wayback Machine. Adl.org. Retrieved on 2010-09-29.
- Göçek, Fatma Müge (2015). Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present and Collective Violence Against the Armenians, 1789–2009. Oxford University Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-19-933420-9.
- http://www.yumuktepe.com/kurtulus-savasinda-icel-dort-ve-besinci-bolum/ KURTULUŞ SAVAŞINDA İÇEL – DÖRT VE BEŞİNCİ BÖLÜM
- Armenian Fedayeen: Armenian History