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HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)
a.k.a. Islamic Resistance Movement

Description
Formed in late 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Various HAMAS elements have used both violent and political means- including terrorism-to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel. Loosely structured, with some elements working clandestinely and others openly through mosques and social service institutions to recruit members, raise money, organize activities, and distribute propaganda. HAMAS?s strength is concentrated in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. First designated in October 1997.

Activities
HAMAS terrorists, especially those in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have conducted many attacks-including large-scale suicide bombings-against Israeli civilian and military targets. HAMAS maintained the pace of its operational activity during 2002-03, claiming numerous attacks against Israeli interests. HAMAS has not yet directly targeted US interests, although the group makes little or no effort to avoid targets frequented by foreigners. HAMAS continues to confine its attacks to Israel and the territories.

Strength
Unknown number of official members; tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers.

Location/Area of Operation
HAMAS currently limits its terrorist operations to Israeli military and civilian targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. The group?s leadership is dispersed throughout the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with a few senior leaders residing in Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and the Gulf States.

External Aid
Receives some funding from Iran but primarily relies on donations from Palestinian expatriates around the world and private benefactors, particularly in Western Europe, North America, and the Persian Gulf region.



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