CATF Reports Nov. 16, 2016, 11:45am


Enigmatic Hamas founding member Imad al-Alami will be installed as successor of Ismail Haniyeh as political leader in the Gaza Strip, pending official elections taking place later this year, The Times of Israel reported on Monday. Recent meetings between Haniyeh, Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas implicate that Haniyeh may be next in line as head leader of Hamas, and his strategic new position in Qatar illustrates Hamas’ continued desire to garner support from the Gulf states, along with Iran and Syria, with whom al Alami has existing relationships.

As the Times of Israel noted, Al Alami has shied away from conferences and social media platforms, yet he has garnered notorious attention for his involvement with terrorism since the 1990’s, after his deportation from Gaza for helping found Hamas. A U.S. terrorist designated member of the Hamas politburo since 2003, when the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Hamas’ founding fathers, al Alami was eventually blacklisted by the UK, Canada, and Australia for his role as operations leader of Izz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’ military wing within Palestine. His longstanding ties with Iran, cultivated over the years even from Qatari territory, where al Alami relocated in 2012, have helped garner financial aid and billions of dollars from the country in support of Hamas. Following the ending of the war in Gaza in 2014, Al Alami launched Hamas operations out of Turkey, and contributed to boost Hamas’ agenda from Turkish soil in cooperation with Turkey-based Hamas military leader Salah Arouri.

Al Alami’s recent appointment as deputy leader of Hamas in Gaza, along with the presence he built in Turkey as a de facto Hamas headquarters, is refreshing news for the organization. While Iran scaled down its support for Hamas over the past few years, partially due to disagreements over the Syrian crisis, al Alami has rebuilt his relationship with Nasrallah and Iran, a country that at one time was giving around $100 million a year to Hamas. Al Alami created a successful venture between Turkey and Iran, which may help steady Hamas’ unstable finances but also entails the possibility of empowering Hamas’ Turkey-based branch over Doha’s central leadership.

From The Times of Israel:

“Haniyeh’s replacement, Imad al Alami, 60, was born in Gaza, but only returned there a few years ago.

He lived for some time in Tehran, then moved to Damascus in 2008. He returned to Gaza after being the last Hamas leader to leave the Syrian capital; relations with Syrian leader Bashar Assad had soured at the start of the uprising there. […]

Amid shifting political sands in the Middle East, Hamas has in recent years walked a tightrope in attempting to maintain support from both Gulf states like Qatar and their Shiite rivals in Iran, Syria and elsewhere.”

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