Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ, Arabic Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami al-Filastini) is a militant group, widely regarded as terrorist throughout the world, whose goal is the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement with an Islamist state for Palestinian Arabs.
This group defines jihad as acts of war against Jews and others who do not share their beliefs. Palestinian Islamic Jihad also opposes many other Arab governments, who they see as being insufficiently Islamic and too western. The PIJ has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks in Israel, including suicide bombings.
Unlike the far larger Hamas, which split from it, the Islamic Jihad has a small support base, and no real social or political role. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad was formed in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s by Fathi Shaqaqi as a branch of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
Shkaki led the organization for two decades. He was killed in Malta in October 1995 by an unknown party. Some people believe the party to be Israel, while others say other Palestinian groups killed him. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad often attempts to carry out attacks against Israeli targets on the anniversary of his death, although the identity of the assassins was never determined.
The group is based in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and its financial backing is believed to come from there and Iran. The group operates primarily in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but has also carried out attacks in Jordan and Lebanon. Its main strongholds in the West Bank are the cities of Hebron and Jenin.
During the Al-Aqsa Intifada the PIJ commited many suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians. Many of the attacks in 2001 and 2002 came from the PIJ in Jenin, headed by Mahmoud Tawallbe, Ali Sefoori and Tabeth Mardawi . The infrastructure of the PIC in Jenin and the West Bank was seriously damaged during Operation Defensive Shield: Tawalle was killed by an IDF Caterpillar D9 armored bulldozer while Sefoori and Mardawi were arrest by Israel security forces.
On February 20, 2003, University of South Florida computer engineering professor Dr. Sami Al-Arian was arrested after being indicted on 50 "terrorism" related charges. US Attorney General John Ashcroft alleged at a press conference that Dr. Al-Arian is the North American head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Islamic Jihad also uses women and teens as suicide bombers. On March 29, 2004, 16-year-old Tamer Khuweir in Rifidia, an Arab suburb of Shechem was apprehended by Israeli security forces as he prepared to carry out a suicide attack. His older brother claimed he was brainwashed to do it by an Islamic Jihad cleric, and demanded the Palestinian Authority to investigate the incident and arrest those responsible to it.