Monday, April 17, 2006

A Look at Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad, a virulently anti-Israel group backed by Iran and Syria, claimed responsibility for Monday's suicide attack in Tel Aviv, the deadliest Palestinian attack in 20 months.

The group has been behind most of the Palestinian attacks against Israel since the sides declared a truce in February 2005. It says the violence is a legitimate response to an Israeli crackdown on its members.

Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for eight of nine suicide attacks in Israel and the West Bank since the cease-fire declaration, and its militants in Gaza continue to fire homemade rockets at Israel on a daily basis.

The group is believed to have about 2,000 militants armed with M-16 and AK-47 automatic rifles, grenades and anti-tank weapons.

Last month, it claimed responsibility for firing a long-range Katyusha rocket into Israel. The attack, which caused no damage or injuries, marked a significant increase in its abilities.

Islamic Jihad is led by Ramadan Shallah, a Palestinian from Gaza who now lives in exile in Syria. It considers the 1979 Iranian Revolution to be the beginning of a new era for the Muslim world and wants to turn all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza into an Islamic state. It rules out compromise with Israel. READ MORE

Shallah, visiting Iran this week, said his group would step up its efforts to attack Israel with suicide bombers and rockets.