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Iranian Shi'a backing a Sunni terror group? Why not?

As the Israeli Army moves north towards it's inevitable battle with Iranian lapdog Hezbollah, we will be hearing more and more about the "other" army on the battlefields of Lebanon.

That army belongs to the Islamic Jihad (or Palestinian Islamic Jihad) which is the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Yes, the same Muslim Brotherhood that has operated unchecked in the United States for many years (look up Linda Sarsour..or to some extent the members of "the Squad" in the US Congress.)

Whoever said terrorism for profit makes strange bedfellows was probably thinking about this group when they said it. So, we decided that the Islamic Jihad was worthy of being a "Person of Interest".


The Palestinian Islamic Jihad


The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a militant organization, rooted in Sunni Islamist ideology, that seeks to destroy Israel and establish an Islamist Palestinian state. This paper examines the history, ideology, allies, operational areas, funding sources, and key interactions with significant global figures including President Barack Obama. The paper aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of how PIJ has evolved and persisted over time.


PIJ was established in Gaza in 1981 by two Palestinian activists, Fathi abd al-Aziz Shaqaqi and Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Awda, who were initially part of the Muslim Brotherhood. The organization was formed as a response to the political and social conditions in Palestine and was ideologically influenced by the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Formation and Early Activities

The PIJ began its armed operations against Israel in 1984 and was exiled to Lebanon in 1988 by Israeli authorities. During their stay in Lebanon, PIJ received support and training from Hezbollah and Iran, which fostered a long-standing relationship. By 1990, PIJ's headquarters moved to Damascus, Syria.


PIJ's ideology is deeply rooted in Sunni Islamic principles combined with a staunch opposition to the existence of Israel. The organization seeks to establish an Islamic Palestinian state through military means, wholly rejecting political processes such as the Oslo Accords.

Notable Activities

Since the 1990s, PIJ’s military wing, al-Quds Brigades, has conducted numerous attacks against Israeli targets, including suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and other forms of militant operations.


PIJ has drawn substantial support from Iran, Syria, and Lebanese Hezbollah. These alliances have provided PIJ with financial support, training, and arms, significantly contributing to its operational capabilities.

Areas of Operation

Gaza Strip, West Bank, Israel

PIJ primarily operates in Israel and the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The organization has become the second-largest militant group in these regions, next to Hamas.

Lebanon and Syria

PIJ maintains a presence in Lebanon and Syria, facilitated by its deep-rooted connections with Hezbollah and the Syrian government, which provide critical logistical support.

Global Presence

Although the majority of PIJ's activities are concentrated in the Middle East, the organization also has operational offices in Tehran, Iran. This global network aids in coordinating its funding and operational strategies.


PIJ is financially sustained by substantial contributions from Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. Since 2014, Iranian support has significantly bolstered PIJ's financial and operational capacities. Various sources, including foreign donations and illicit activities, also supplement their funding.

The organization’s funds – estimated to be worth E£300 billion, or $16.7 billion, while other estimates suggest it would “exceed $20 billion” 2013 Noura AlHabsi, TRENDS R&A

Tactics and Targets

Military Tactics

PIJ typically engages in guerrilla warfare tactics, including small-arms fire, mortar and rocket attacks, and the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Its arsenal includes man-portable air defense systems, antitank guided missiles, and armed unmanned aerial vehicles.

Target Selection

PIJ's targets are predominantly Israeli military and civilian infrastructures. The organization has been responsible for numerous high-casualty attacks, often using rocket barrages to inflict damage and incite fear.

Designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization

The United States Department of State designated PIJ as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 1997. This designation has been reinforced by numerous other countries and international entities, condemning PIJ's militant activities and funding streams. (US STATE DEPT)

Key Leaders

Ziyad al-Nakhalah

As the Secretary General of PIJ since 2018, Ziyad al-Nakhalah has been instrumental in coordinating the organization’s strategic initiatives and maintaining its alliances.

"US designated PIJ's Secretary General Ziyad al-Nakhalah as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2014." US STATE

Muhammad al-Hindi

The Deputy Secretary General, Muhammad al-Hindi, plays a crucial role in the political bureau and in articulating the organization's ideology and political stance.

Notable Attacks

PIJ has been responsible for some of the most significant militant attacks against Israel over recent decades. These include:

  • August 2022: Fired approximately 1,100 rockets at Israel, resulting in Palestinian casualties from errant rockets and injuries in Israel.

  • May 2021: Conducted coordinated rocket attacks with Hamas, launching over 4,000 rockets, which killed 12 Israeli citizens including a soldier.

  • February 2020: Launched nearly 100 rockets in response to the death of three fighters, causing injuries in Israel.

  • November 2019: Fired over 400 rockets following the Israeli killing of a PIJ commander.

  • November 2018: Alongside Hamas, PIJ fired more than 400 rockets into Israel, resulting in casualties and significant damage.

Interaction with President Obama

During Barack Obama's presidency, the U.S. administration's stance towards Islamist movements, including the PIJ and the broader Muslim Brotherhood network, was complex and multifaceted. (Ed. note: the following reminded us quie abit of the Obama and Jalisco New Generation debacle)

Obama's Middle East Strategy

Obama’s administration engaged in strategic dialogues with various players in the Middle East, navigating the tumultuous political landscape. The administration’s general policy vacillated between cautiously engaging moderate Islamist political elements and maintaining traditional alliances with regional powers like Egypt and Israel.

Specific Incidents

In response to Israeli actions and ongoing conflicts involving PIJ, the Obama administration often found itself mediating ceasefires and addressing the humanitarian ramifications of military escalations. For instance, in November 2012, Obama's active role in negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas (which included PIJ-affiliated militants) helped avert a broader conflict.

Internal U.S. Debates

The administration's policy of engagement with moderate Islamist elements in the aftermath of the Arab Spring created internal divisions. The complex interplay between supporting democratic movements and countering extremist violence often led to contentious policy debates within the administration, particularly between the President’s policy advisers and the security establishment.


Palestinian Islamic Jihad remains one of the most active and dangerous militant groups in the Middle East, with a clear and uncompromising ideology aimed at the destruction of Israel. Its extensive network of allies and steady funding, primarily from Iran, sustain its operations despite global counter-terrorism efforts. The organization's resilience and capability to adapt have enabled it to persist as a significant threat in the region, necessitating continuous and nuanced international diplomatic and security responses.


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