Salah Shehade - Portrait of a Hamas Leader
IDF Spokesperson 23 July 2002
Salah Shehade was one of the founders of Hamas and the commander of its
military wing. He is directly responsible for hundreds of attacks committed
against Israeli citizens and its security forces over the past two years.
These have resulted in death and injury to large numbers of people. Quite
simply, in recent years, Shehade had been the central figure in Hamas's
organization. And, it is known that Shehade was planning further severe acts
Israeli security officials have stated that Shehade was closely associated
with most of the terrorist activities in the Gaza area, whether in planning
them himself or in their approval. To take just two examples of these wanton
acts: the killing of 4 soldiers at the IDF posting nicknamed "Africa" (9
January 2002) and the slaughter of 5 high school students at Atzmona (7
Shehade's high-level involvement with Hamas included:
" controlling some of the most wanted Hamas terrorists.
" instigating the strategy of terrorism as directed against Israel.
" significantly improving Hamas's military capabilities.
In particular, Shehade mobilised the Hamas leaders in the West Bank, as well
being a main link with Hamas officials' abroad. And it was Shehade who led
the efforts to manufacture rockets with the aim of directing them at the
heart of Israel. He personally oversaw the production and purchase of
Over the course of the past two years, Israeli authorities made dozens of
requests to the Palestinian Authority to act against Shehade's activities.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority did not lift a finger against him,
and permitted him as well as other Hamas operatives to act freely.
Below is a more detailed description of Shehade's background, including a
list of some of his activities.
Born in 1953 in Jaffa, Salah Shehade began his Islamist activities in the
1980's as a student at the Islamist University in Gaza.
Shehade was in contact with the Moslem Brotherhood movement that operated in
the Gaza Strip.
In 1984, Israeli security forces arrested him due to his involvement in
hostile activities against Israel. After he was released from prison in
1986, he joined forces with SheikhAhmed Yassin. Together, they decided to
create a secret "military apparatus" called the "Palestinian Jihad Fighters
(Almuj'yhadin Al-Palestinin) which formed the basis for the establishment of
Hamas and its military wing Iz Adin al-kassam in December 1987. In 1988
Salah Shehade was re-arrested by Israeli authorities and was accused of
establishing a terror cell, training terrorists in weapons-use and giving
orders to carry out terror attacks.
After his release from an Israeli prison in 2000, Shehade returned to his
position as the commander of the military wing of Hamas, which carried out
thousands of terror attacks, including dozens of suicide attacks against
Israeli targets in recent years.
Salah Shehade's terror activities:
Salah Shehade was considered to be a charismatic leader, who led the terror
wing of the Hamas with a firm grip. He also established policy, giving
orders and instructions on the carrying out of acts of terror.
For the past two years, Shehade has been planning, developing and
cultivating the terrorist infrastructure for Hamas' military wing, Iz Adin
al-kassam. He stood behind the creation of the Hamas field-command, which
operated in different areas. He was instrumental behind Hamas arming itself
with advanced weapons, such as anti-tank missiles, made locally and smuggled
illegally into the Palestinian Territories. Additionally, he was responsible
for collecting mony from Islamic organizations all over the world in order
to support the terrorist activities of Hamas.
Shehade saw all of "historic Palestine" as holy Islamic territory, which had
a religious obligation to be freed completely and immediately from Jews.
Based on this opinion, he was opposed to all negotiations with Israel, even
those that would lead to a Palestinian state on only part of "historic
Shehade carried the banner of the Islamic extreemists who saw the Jihad
(Islamic war against non-believers) as the preferred way to achieve
political objectives. The Jihad is seen as the centerpiece of this strategy,
which includes uncompromising armed struggle that would permit a
reconquering of Palestine. In this framework, he saw that suicide attacks
were the highest expression of the Jihad, and felt that all Israelis,
including civilians, are legitimate targets in the "struggle".
In the past several months, Shehade operated in the Gaza Strip against
Israeli settlements. On his instructions, many terror cells carried out
murderous attacks on the Israeli communities.
Based on his extremist Islamic viewpoint, Shehade spent a lot of effort in
educating and preparing the new generation of Palestinian youths in the
principles of Jihad and suicide attacks. He saw it as a mark of honor for
Palestinian youths, willing to volunteer for suicide attacks. He supported
them fully in this path, and even established a "youth wing" within Hamas
that provided military education and training for youths preparing for
suicide missions. Shehade also provided the principles for the religious
approval for using women and young girls as suicide terrorists.
In an exclusive interview that was published on the Hamas web site, Salah
Shehade explained what the four main requirements a suicide bomber must meet
before being sent out against Israeli targets.
" Religious Beliefs- All those who are sent to perform suicide attacks must
be devout moslems, perform good deeds and pray in a mosque.
" Parental Approval- We (Hamas) make sure that the parents are satisfied
with their child, that he loves his family, and that his suicide will not
adversely affect the family. In other words, he is not the family's sole
supporter. We also investigate if he has brothers. We will not take an only
son on a suicide mission.
" Ability- He must be able to perform the mission.
" Encourages Others-Each suicide attack must encourage others to perform
such missions and to support the jihad.
Cooperation in terror activities between Hamas and the Al Aqusa Martyrs'
Brigade, the terror wing of the Fatah movement, is the result of Salah
Shehade's strong Palestinian line in the armed struggle. With his blessing,
the two terror organizations carry out attacks in cooperation with each
other, both in the preplanning stages and to the point of sending out joint
press communiques regarding the attacks.