Shooting a Man in the Shadows in Beirut

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Shooting a Man in the Shadows in Beirut

Shooting of a man in the shadows in Beirut

Less than three months after the surprise attack by the extremist group Hamas on Israeli cities and settlements, Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of the group’s political office, recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, was killed in a drone strike in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, on Tuesday afternoon, 12th of Dey.

The explosion that occurred in the Al-Mashrafieh neighborhood in the southern suburbs of Beirut has been attributed to Israel, although Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the Lebanese state news agency reported that Al-Arouri and his companions were killed in an Israeli drone attack on the parliament building where they were present, which is believed to be one of Hamas’ offices. According to this report, at least 6 people were killed and 11 others were injured in this attack. Hamas claims that Samir Fendi Abu Ammar and Azam al-Aqra Abu Ammar, two of the military branch commanders of the group, are among the casualties.

The killing of Al-Arouri is assessed as a major blow to Hamas due to his background and role, especially as one of the founders of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, and his extensive internal and external connections.

The killing of Al-Arouri took place when Israel announced its intention to start a new phase of its war against Hamas in Gaza, after nearly three months of airstrikes and ground operations. About a week before that, Reza Mousavi, a senior commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, was killed in another attack attributed to Israel, in the suburbs of Damascus, the capital of Syria.

Who was Al-Arouri?

Salah Al-Arouri was one of the prominent leaders of Hamas, who was repeatedly mentioned as one of the main planners and coordinators of the bloody attack by the group on Israel on October 6th. Al-Arouri was one of the individuals present in the famous video of Hamas leaders performing the prostration of gratitude after the attack, which targeted Israeli cities and settlements, resulting in the killing of about 1,200 people, most of whom were civilians, and the taking of approximately 240 hostages.

Saleh al-Arouri was born on August 19, 1966, in the village of Aroura, located in the outskirts of Ramallah in the West Bank. He completed his primary and secondary education in Palestinian territories and then obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Islamic Sharia from Al-Khalil University in the West Bank. During his youth, al-Arouri joined the Islamic group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and in 1986, he led Islamic activities at Al-Khalil University. After the establishment of Hamas in 1987, al-Arouri joined the group.

He was detained by the Israeli army without trial from 1990 to 1992 due to his activities in Hamas. Al-Arouri was one of the founders of the military wings of Hamas, known as the Al-Qassam Brigades, and was arrested on charges of establishing the initial nuclei of Al-Qassam in the West Bank. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 2007 but was arrested again three months later. Finally, in 2010, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a verdict for his release and deportation from Palestinian territories. In the same year, he was elected as a member of the Hamas political office.

His main connections are with Iran and Hezbollah.

After the attack on October 7th, Western media outlets, including the US newspaper USA Today, reported that Israel has initiated an international operation to hunt down Al-Arouri. However, prior to this attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had threatened to kill Al-Arouri.

The US Treasury Department had designated Al-Arouri as a terrorist in its list in 2015 and imposed sanctions on him. One day before Al-Arouri was killed, Michael Evanoff, the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, had stated that Al-Arouri freely resides in Lebanon, maintains contact with the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, and is responsible for financing Hamas operations, in which American-Israeli citizens were killed.

However, according to the report in USA Today, the reason for targeting Al-Arouri was his involvement in the deadly Hamas attack on October 7th, as well as his role as an intermediary between Hamas on one side and the Iranian government and Hezbollah in Lebanon on the other side.

According to current and former intelligence officials in the United States and Israel, as well as government and judicial documents, the Behnagh newspaper wrote that Al-Arouri is considered the communication link between three parties: Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran. Avi Levi, who has worked in the Israeli intelligence organization for over 30 years, told the newspaper that Iran is the main source of Hamas’ funds and that Al-Arouri is the man in charge of Hamas for Iran.

Despite being listed as a terrorist by the United States and having a bounty on his head, Al-Arouri continued to travel in the region, including between Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Qatar, and collaborated with other individuals who are also listed in terrorist lists, such as Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Al-Arouri’s main place of residence was Lebanon. Prior to the attack on October 6th, Western media had reported on his meetings with other leaders of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group, along with high-ranking officials from Iran and Hezbollah. The US newspaper, USA Today, wrote that Al-Arouri played a role in the formation of a new alliance between Hamas, Iran, and Hezbollah, which raised concerns for Israel.

A role beyond being the head of Hamas office.

Al-Arouri played a role beyond the political office of Hamas in planning and organizing operations for the Al-Qassam Brigades, as well as assisting in the reconstruction of Hamas structures in other Palestinian areas under Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip’s western coast.

Former American and Israeli officials in the field of counterterrorism have stated that Al-Arouri, in his role as the assistant to Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political office residing in Qatar, plays a prominent role in political contacts between Hamas, Iran, and Hezbollah.

The US Department of Justice identified Al-Arouri in 2003 for his involvement in providing funding to three Hamas activists in Chicago. In June 2014, after attacks on the western coast that resulted in the killing of three Israeli teenagers, Al-Arouri declared that Hamas was responsible for the attack.

According to US documents that designate Al-Arouri as an internationally sanctioned terrorist, he manages Hamas military operations on the western coast and has been involved in numerous terrorist attacks and kidnappings.

Expulsion from Qatar

According to the annual report of the US Department of State on terrorism in June 2017, Qatar expelled six members of the extremist group Hamas, including Al-Arouri, from its territory. After that, Al-Arouri went to Lebanon and played a crucial role in resolving the differences between Hamas and the Islamic Republic of Iran, differences that arose from the internal wars in Syria and Hamas’ position on them. Al-Arouri also established closer ties with the Hezbollah group in Lebanon.

A $5 million reward from the United States

In November 2018, the US Department of State announced that the United States has set a $5 million reward as part of the Rewards for Justice program for information on Al-Arouri. At the same time, the US Department of State also stated that Al-Arouri freely lives in Lebanon and is said to cooperate with Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

According to some US media reports, Al-Arouri also had close cooperation with Saeed Azadi, the head of the Palestine Committee in the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards. Israeli officials also claim that he played a role in transferring fighters from the Al-Quds Brigades to Lebanon for specialized training in the country.

Audi Levi, who was previously the commander of the Tzalatzal unit responsible for tracking the assets of Palestinian groups and Hezbollah in Mossad, had once said that Israel is pursuing Al-Arouri in the same way that the United States pursued Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda, after the September 11 attacks.


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