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June 13, 2003 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-13

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The Terrorists

Staying Put

Despite ideological differences, the road map
has united three main groups.

Detroiters in Israel near
bomb site show resolve.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency



his week's coordinated ter-
rorist attack in the Gaza
Strip that killed four
Israeli soldiers represented
a bloody demonstration of unity
among the three leading Palestinian
terrorist groups — Hamas, Islamic
Jihad and the Al Aksa Martyrs
Despite past differences, the vari-
ous terrorist organizations have
increased their cooperation in recent
years, particularly in the face of
Israel's counter-terror operations.


The largest opposition party in the
West Bank and Gaza, Hamas' ideol-
ogy focusing on the destruction of
Israel is based on jihad, the Muslim
"holy war" against heathens: Hamas
terrorists in the Izz a-Din al-Kassam
Brigade, the organization's military
wing, have conducted many attacks
— including large-scale suicide
bombings — against Israeli civilian
and military targets.
In the early 1990s, Hamas also
targeted suspected Palestinian collab-
orators and rivals in the Fatah move-
ment. The group has not specifically
targeted U.S. interests, though some
American citizens have been killed in
Hamas operations.
Like Islamic Jihad, Hamas has its
origins in the Muslim Brotherhood,
which was founded in Egypt in the
first half of the 20th century. The
Muslim Brotherhood is considered
the ideological forerunner of many
fundamentalist Muslim organiza-
The spiritual leader of Hamas is
Sheik Ahmed Yassin, 66, who was
paralyzed following an accident in
his youth. Yassin founded the
Islamic Center in Gaza in 1973,
turning it not only into a major reli-
gious organization but also the basis
for a network of social institutions
— including welfare, education and
medical institutions — that
increased the movement's popularity.
That paved the way for the found-

ing of Hamas after the first
Palestinian intifada - (uprising) began
in 1987. In 1989, Yassin was arrest-
ed by Israel and sentenced to life
imprisonment for ordering the
killing of Palestinians who allegedly
had collaborated with the Israeli
army. He was released in 1997 in
exchange for two Israeli Mossad
agents captured during an assassina-
tion attempt on a Hamas leader in
The group's leadership is dispersed
throughout the Gaza Strip and West
Bank, with a few senior leaders in
Syria, Lebanon and the Persian Gulf
states. Hamas receives some funding
from Iran, but relies primarily.on
donations from Palestinian expatri-
ates around the world and private
benefactors in moderate Arab states.
Some of Hamas' fundraising and
propaganda activity takes place in
Western Europe and North America.
Israeli intelligence in the past has
pointed at possible links between
Hamas and Al-Qaida and Hezbollah.

Isla m ic Jihad

This fundamentalist group was
inspired by the Iranian Revolution
of 1979. Islamic Jihad is a coalition
of several radical Islamic factions
that became active after 1979 in the
West Bank, mainly under the influ-
ence of the Iranian Islamic revolu-
tion and the growing Islamic mili-
tancy in the region.
It, too, aspires to destroy Israel as
part of a jihadist "holy war" to
impose the rule of Islam in the
world. The group carried out its first
terror attacks in mid-1986, before
the first intifada began.
The organization is led by
Ramadan Shallah, who is based in
Damascus. It receives financial assis-
tance from Iran and limited logistic
assistance from Syria.
The group operates primarily in
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, but many of the group's lead-
ers reside in other parts of the
Middle East, including Lebanon and
Syria. In August 1988, the group's
leaders were expelled to Lebanon,
where Fathi Shqaqi reorganized the
TERRORISTS on page 14


Stair Writer

he terrorist bus bombing in
Jerusalem Wednesday brought
new fears as well as renewed
determination to Detroiters living, visit-
ing and learning in Israel.
Even during the hours-long wait for a
call from his 25-year-old son in Israel,
Rabbi Yigal Tsaidi said, "I am glad he
lives there. But his apartment is right
where the bomb went off. The bus that
blew up is the same one my son takes
to and from his school.'
Although deeply concerned for the
well-being of his son and other family
and friends who live in Israel, the
Yeshivat Aldva of Southfield education-
al director said, "I have
never told him to come
back here, and he would
never think to ask."
The Israel-born rabbi
recently led a group of
Akiva students on a visit
to Israel, and'will return
there himself later this
"Ninety percent of our graduating
class from last year went to Israel (to
study) and nobody; changed their
minds because of security reasons.
Some are even staying for a second year
-- and three are entering the army."
But, he admits, being in Israel isn't
like it once was.
"We must have rules and regulations.
We are not macho. I tell my son and
my students over and over again to be
careful. The Torah is very clear in
telling us to watch out," the rabbi said.
"I don't know any Americans who
take the bus," said Ben Berger, a partici-
pant in the Hillel Pardes Summer
Learning Institute. "The bus that blew
up stops right in front of my school."
Berger, who is program director of
the University of Michigan Hillel in
Arm Arbor, had just left school for the
day when he heard about the bombing.
"The calls didn't stop for the first
hour after that," lie said, "calls from the
States and from all over Israel. At
Pardes, we have a network to make sure
everyone is contacted."
One of those in the net-work is
Melanie Birnholtz of Keego Harbor,

who is studying at Pardes. "Hearing
about the bombing makes me know
how much Israel needs me now more
than ever," she said. "This is the most
important time to be here. Who am I
to say that other Jews should support
Israel, but not me?"
Rabbi Tsaidi said, There is no ques-
tion that this a war — an attrition war.
But if we withdraw, it will be a victory
for the terrorists."
Berger said, "After the attack on Gaza
on Tuesday, we all had some fear there
would be some response. Whenever
there's talk of peace, terrorists seem to
undo it. The whole country was on
alert (on Wednesday). We were all care-
ful about where`we went, about not
going on buses and avoiding restaurants
and bars. And we'll con-
tinue to be carefiil. I
think there will be more
attacks soon."
Yaakov Schwartz, 19,
made aliyah earlier this
year from Oak Park.
"The bus bombina was
defmitely a retaliation on
the Arab side," he said.
"But I see the Israeli security; and I
don't worry about other suicide
bombers coming across the border and
into Jerusalem. We can't walk around
expecting sothething to happen, not
trusting anyone. I came to Israel in
spite of what is going on here. I've been
here`for three months and have been
able to avoid the danger.
Others have not been that lucky.
Tamar Pieczenik, 20, a Southfield
native who lives in Jerusalem, said, "My
friend, Avi, frorn iVliami was right at
the site of the bombing. He told me he
was walking near the bus and suddenly
he heard a terrible boom and then there
was dead silence.
The area where the attack was is
always noisy, but it was completely
silent. He said after three or minutes he
started running, because if there's one
bomb sometimes there's another bomb.
He saw some really gruesome things."
Still, Pieczenik said, "I am proud to
live in Israel. I won't go home if there's
a bomb. I won't go home if there's a
war. I am where I am supposed to be —
and nobody should stop me from being



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