Jihad Intel: Vital Intelligence on Designated Islamic Terrorist Organizations

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Database: Identifiers of Designated Islamic Terrorist Organizations

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades

Designated as terrorist by: Canada, European Union, United States

Base of operations: Palestinian Territories

Background: National Counterterrorism Center
Background: Council on Foreign Relations

Named after the mosque located atop the disputed Temple Mount, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is a coalition of armed groups founded at the start of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. It is composed of small, autonomous cells of militants loosely affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, now headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. The organization's objective is to expel Israel from the West Bank and eventually establish a Palestinian state reflecting Fatah's nationalist platform. The group initially staged small-arms attacks within Palestinian territories, but it soon adopted suicide bombings against civilians within Israel itself. Notably, it claimed responsibility for the first female suicide bomber to strike inside the country. In 2005, many al-Asqa factions withheld anti-Israel attacks as part of a broad Palestinian ceasefire, but others refused to comply. In 2007–08, an Israeli–Palestinian Authority amnesty program recruited some, but not all, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade elements. Though the group has murdered American citizens in Israel, it is not believed to pose a threat to the U.S. homeland at this time.

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