HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) a.k.a. Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, Students of Ayyash, Students of the Engineer, Yahya Ayyash Units, Izz Al-Din Al-Qassim Brigades, Izz Al-Din Al-Qassim Forces, Izz Al-Din Al-Qassim Battalions, Izz al-Din Al Qassam Brigades, Izz al-Din Al Qassam Forces, Izz al-Din Al Qassam Battalions
Description: Formed in late 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Various HAMAS elements have used both political and violent means, including terrorism, to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel. Loosely structured, with some elements working clandestinely and others working 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 a few areas of the West Bank. Also has engaged in peaceful political activity, such as running candidates in West Bank Chamber of Commerce elections.
Activities: HAMAS activists, especially those in the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have conducted many attacks--including large-scale suicide bombings--against Israeli civilian and military targets, suspected Palestinian collaborators, and Fatah rivals.
Strength: Unknown number of hardcore members; tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily the occupied territories, Israel, and Jordan.
External Aid: Receives funding from Palestinian expatriates, Iran, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states. Some fundraising and propaganda activity take place in Western Europe and North America.