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 Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Also known as: PIJ; al-Quds Brigades; Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami fi Filistin; Islamic Jihad; Islamic Jihad Palestine; Islamic Jihad—Palestine Faction and Islamic Holy War; The Jerusalem Brigades; Saraya al-Quds

This statement is based on publicly available information about Palestinian Islamic Jihad. To the Australian Government's knowledge, this information is accurate, reliable and has been corroborated by classified information.

Basis for listing a terrorist organisation

Division 102 of the Criminal Code provides that for an organisation to be listed as a terrorist organisation, the Minister for Home Affairs must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation:

  • is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, or assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act; or
  • advocates the doing of a terrorist act.

For the purposes of listing a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code, the doing of a terrorist act includes the doing of a specific terrorist act, the doing of more than one terrorist act and the doing of a terrorist act, even if a terrorist act does not occur.

Background to this listing

The Australian Government first proscribed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code on 3 May 2004. It was re-listed on 5 June 2005, 7 October 2005, 8 September 2007, 8 September 2009, 18 August 2012, 11 August 2015 and 4 August 2018.

Terrorist activity of the organisation

Objectives

PIJ's goal is the establishment of a sovereign Islamic state within the historic borders of Palestine. PIJ promotes the military destruction of Israel as the only viable means to attain this goal, and rejects a two-state solution.

Directly or indirectly engaged in preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts

During the second intifada—between 2000 and 2005—PIJ is reported to have conducted as many as 60 attacks against Israeli interests, including suicide attacks, bus bombings, and rocket fire. Since then, PIJ attacks against Israeli interests have regularly featured indirect rocket fire.

  • On 12 March 2018, Israeli security forces arrested 10 members of PIJ for their involvement in a plot to fire a missile at an Israeli naval ship, and abduct a number of Israeli sailors.

PIJ maintains a tunnel network to launch and facilitate attacks; smuggle goods and ammunition across borders; and, enable training.

  • On 3 November 2017, PIJ announced that 10 members had been killed when Israel destroyed a PIJ occupied ‘attack tunnel' which crossed into Israeli territory.
  • On 1 December 2015, the Palestinian Authority arrested six members of a PIJ cell in the West Bank, for transporting improvised explosive devices, grenades and firearms, intended for an attack against Israeli soldiers.

Advocating the doing of terrorist acts

PIJ encourages Palestinians to attack Israel and to celebrate violent resistance against Israel; and advocates the use of terrorist tactics in its public messaging. PIJ maintains an Arabic website, which is used to celebrate Jihadist operations, memorialise martyrs, and promote anti-Israeli propaganda.

  • On 9 January 2018, an Israeli Rabbi was shot and injured in a drive by shooting west of Nablus. PIJ praised the attack stating that the incident illustrated the continuity and vitality of the resistance against Israel, and that the Palestinian people will not abandon their cause.
  • On 26 September 2017, an Israeli border police officer, and two security guards were killed and one was injured when an individual opened fire on the group near Jerusalem. Following the attack, PIJ released a statement praising the attack stating the incident was a rebuke to those who support Israel.

Details of the organisation

PIJ is a Sunni Islamist organisation committed to the destruction of the state of Israel. In 1981, Dr Fathi abd al-Aziz Shaqaqi and Shayk Abd al-Aziz Awda founded the group in Gaza. While both were originally members of the Muslim Brotherhood, they believed the group was too moderate and created PIJ as a radical militant alternative focused on the liberation of Palestine.

PIJ has a military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, which undertakes attacks, and also publishes claims of responsibility for attacks on behalf of PIJ. Al-Quds Brigades statements are disseminated via the al-Quds Brigades-run website or PIJ-affiliated media outlets. Because PIJ focuses almost exclusively on militant activities that further its objectives, the organisation as a whole and the al-Quds Brigades are indistinguishable.

Despite being a Sunni group, PIJ remains ideologically supportive of, and maintains close ties with, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Lebanese Hizballah. Syria has historically provided support and sanctuary to PIJ—and the group's leadership is likely currently based in Damascus.

Leadership

The Secretary General of PIJ is Dr Ramadan Abdullah Shallah—who took over from Fathi abd al-Aziz Shaqaqi in 1995 after Shaqaqi's death. Shallah oversees the PIJ leadership council, which is responsible for directing PIJ operations via regional commands.

Membership

The exact size of PIJ's membership is unclear with estimates ranging from less than a thousand, up to 8 000 members. PIJ recruits the majority of its members from Palestinian communities in Gaza and the West Bank.

Recruitment and funding

Despite being a Sunni group, PIJ supports, and receives the majority of its funding from Iran.

Due to its secretive nature, PIJ's current approach to recruitment is unclear; however, PIJ has previously used targeted selection and recruitment strategies. This has included recruitment of students for protest activities; suicide bombers including women for attacks; and children to ensure ongoing support for the Palestinian resistance into the next generation.

Links to other terrorist organisations

PIJ has engaged in operations, including the shared use of tunnel networks, with Hamas' Izz al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, a proscribed terrorist organisation.

Links to Australia

There are no known direct links between PIJ and Australia.

Threats to Australian interests

PIJ has not made statements specifically threatening Australians or Australian interests.

Listed by the United Nations or like-minded countries

The governments of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand proscribe PIJ as a terrorist organisation.

The European Union lists PIJ for the purposes of its anti-terrorism financing measures.

PIJ is also included in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Consolidated List maintained under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, which implements Australia's obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 in relation to countering the financing of terrorism.

Engagement in peace or mediation processes

While PIJ leadership has publicly committed to maintaining a ceasefire brokered with Hamas and Israel in 2014; all parties are understood to have breached this ceasefire in the intervening period. PIJ is not known to have engaged further in peace or mediation processes.

Conclusion

On the basis of the above information, ASIO assesses that Palestinian Islamic Jihad continues to be directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts or advocates the doing of terrorist acts.

In the course of pursuing its objectives, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is known to have committed or threatened actions that:

  1. cause, or could cause, death, serious harm to persons, serious damage to property, endangered life (other than the life of the person taking the action), or create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public;
  2. are intended to have those effects;
  3. are done with the intention of advancing Palestinian Islamic Jihad's political, religious or ideological causes;
  4. are done with the intention of intimidating the government of one or more foreign countries; and
  5. are done with the intention of intimidating the public or sections of the public.