Hamas, Understanding the Organization

By Aboul-Enein, Youssef H. | Military Review, July/August 2003 | Go to article overview

Hamas, Understanding the Organization


Aboul-Enein, Youssef H., Military Review


In Darb Al-Ashwaak: Hamas, AlIntifada, Al-Sultah (Pinprick Strikes: Hamas, the Intifadah and Leadership), (Dar-al-Shirook Press, Nablus, Gaza and Ramalah, translated by Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, 2002), Emaad AbdulHameed Al-Falooji gives Middle Eastern readers a comprehensive history of Hamas from its founding in 1987 to the organization's current operational procedures. The book, which brings to light the history, strategy, and tactics of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, details how terrorists use urban populations as a base of operations and support.

Al-Falooji, a former member of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, became a senior adviser to Hamas, but left the organization in 1996 to participate in Palestinian elections, becoming the Minister of Post and Telecommunications in the Palestinian Authority.

Al-Harakah Al-Muqawama AlIslamiya (the Islamic Resistance Movement, known by the acronym Hamas), was established in Gaza on 14 December 1987 during the Palestinian uprising, Intifadah. The organization grew out of the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood as a means of channeling the rage and efforts of the first Intifadah toward the liberation of all Palestine and the creation of an Islamic state in its place.

Unlike other Palestinian groups, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or the murderous Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas is modeled heavily on the Muslim Brotherhood. The organization has created a community that has social services, schools, and healthcare, while maintaining military wings that carry out suicide bombings. Other Palestinian terrorist groups simply conduct violence without understanding or coordinating the social needs of the population they claim to defend. The Hamas tactic offers a quasi-state and helps endear the population to Hamas, as well as providing a source of recruitment.

Recruiting Methods

Hamas pays close attention to the recruitment of its members and is alert to any penetration by Israeli agents or rival Palestinian groups. During the early years, there was an intense dislike between Hamas and Yasser Arafat's Fatah group, because Arafat sought to undermine those organizations that undercut its legitimacy to be the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Hamas used the Muslim Brotherhood as a model for recruitment and promotion to fill its membership.

A prospective member of Hamas must first attempt to observe all the required Muslim prayers of the day. Once the member's transformation and sincerity in observing Islamic rituals is satisfactory to the recruiters, he is brought into a small usra (family) that monitors the person's spiritual progress. At this stage, recruits typically learn two sections of the Quran (Amaa and Tabarak) and learn selected hadiths (prophetic sayings). In addition, the recruit is introduced to the Muslim Brotherhood ideology of takfir (excommunication), the need to isolate oneself from sin, and to the jihad as a means of warfare. Not everyone successfully completes the indoctrination period, which lasts 1 8 months. However, if the person does succeed, he becomes an operative member and is assigned to a membership cell. During the indoctrination period, the recruit is assessed for skills, leadership potential, and ability within the membership cell. Based on his evaluation, and if he shows leadership abilities, he is given further training, designated a full member, and assigned as a captain or lieutenant.

Hamas Organization

Hamas consists of five major jihaaaz (apparatus).

The Al-Ahdaath (Events) Apparatus. The Events Apparatus is responsible for coordinating events on the street, organizing turnouts for demonstrations, funerals of martyrs, and commemorations of special events. Al-Ahdaath produces leaflets and flyers to keep Palestinian communities informed of what is going on and enforces strikes that have been called by Hamas or Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

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