Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, Leader of Islamic Jihad
Posted: June 13, 2002
On June 5, a Palestinian terrorist blew up an automobile rigged with explosives next to a bus in Megiddo in northern Israel, killing 17 and wounding several dozen more. The terrorist organization Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. Over the past several years, Islamic Jihad has taken credit for numerous terrorist attacks in Israel.
The current leader of Islamic Jihad is Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, a Syria-based, former Florida professor who was born in the Gaza Strip and received his education in the 1980s in London, England, where he received his doctorate in Islamic economics at the University of Durnham. In England, Shalah was named to head the local Islamic Jihad office, where he handled propaganda and other activities.
In 1990, Shalah taught Middle East courses at South Florida University in Tampa, where he also served as a director of WISE, the World and Islamic Studies Enterprise, a think tank devoted to Muslim political and religious issues that was connected to Islamic Jihad. In October 1995, following the death of Fathi Abd al-Aziz Shqaqi, Shalah became head of Islamic Jihad.
Early in 1996, Shalah returned to the Middle East, establishing himself and his group in Damascus, Syria. Islamic Jihad, also referred to as Islamic Holy War, is one of two main Islamic groups (the other being Hamas) that have mounted terror attacks in Israel. Islamic Jihad took responsibility at the time for a terrorist bombing in Tel Aviv.
In January 1997, Shalah and representatives of Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine attended a rally in Damascus where they vowed to resume "suicide operations" against Israel. "We are going to retaliate with a language that the enemy can only understand," Shalah said. "The danger of the suicide operations are coming."
In September 2000, Shalah was quoted as declaring: "Our enemy possesses the most sophisticated weapons in the world and its army is trained to a very high standard. … We have nothing with which to repel killing and thuggery against us except the weapon of martyrdom. It is easy and costs us only our lives…human bombs cannot be defeated, not even by nuclear bombs."
In October 2000, following an Islamic Jihad attack on an Israeli army post in Gaza, Shalah stated that "These actions are the beginning and there will be other attacks against settlers and the Israeli army." Shalah, speaking by telephone from Syria to Islamic Jihad supporters in Gaza City, added: "The light of explosions is the price for Jerusalem and Palestine."
In December 2000, Shalah spoke at the Iranian embassy in Damascus, saying that "uprising" was "the only alternative for the Palestinian people." He added: "The Palestinian people is determined to free its land and build an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital."
In June 2002, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres spoke out regarding the suicide bombing of the Israeli bus in Megiddo by Syria-based Islamic Jihad. He commented: "What a confused world we see watching someone like Ramadan Shalah issuing an order to kill Israelis on a bus near Megiddo. And who is heading the world's Security Council for the war on terror? Syria. It's an unbelievable situation."