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Terrorist Organizations and Other Groups of Concern

HAMAS

Updated August 24, 2007

From: "Chapter 8; Foreign Terrorist Organizations," Country Reports on Terrorism 2005, US Department of State, April 30, 2006.

a.k.a. Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya;
Islamic Resistance Movement;
Izz al-Din al Qassam Battalions;
Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades;
Izz al-Din al Qassam Forces;
Izz al-Din al-Qassim Battalions;
Izz al-Din al-Qassim Brigades;
Izz al-Din al-Qassim Forces;
Students of Ayyash;
Students of the Engineer;
Yahya Ayyash Units

Description
HAMAS was formed in late 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Various HAMAS elements have used both violent and political means, including terrorism, to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel.

HAMAS maintains a political wing that manages the group's overall policy and a highly compartmentalized military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, that conducts terrorist activities.

Activities
HAMAS terrorists have conducted many attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings, against Israeli civilian and military targets. The group curtailed major terrorist activities in 2005 after agreeing to a temporary period of calm brokered by the Palestinian Authority in February. Despite HAMAS's general adherence to the calm, it maintained its military capabilities and launched Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli targets on a number of occasions. HAMAS has not directly targeted U.S. interests, though the group makes little or no effort to avoid targets frequented by foreigners.

Strength
Unknown number of official members; tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers.

Location/Area of Operation
HAMAS has limited its terrorist operations to Israeli military and civilian targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. The group retains a cadre of senior leaders spread throughout the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and the Gulf States.

External Aid
Receives some funding from Iran but primarily relies on donations from Palestinian expatriates around the world and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. Some fundraising and propaganda activity takes place in Western Europe and North America.