Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades

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The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (Arabic: كتائب شهداء الأقصى‎) is a coalition of Palestinian nationalist militias in the West Bank. The group's name refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The organization has been designated as a terrorist group by the governments of Israel, the United States,[1] Canada,[2] Japan[3] and the European Union. Many Palestinian people believe that the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is a group that defends Palestinian rights by licit resistance.[4][5]

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Arafat and Fatah

It is disputed whether or not the brigades have a direct relationship with the leaders of Fatah.[6] The leadership of the brigades, and average members have identified themselves as the military wing of Fatah. On their website, and on posters they post the Fatah emblem. The leadership of Fatah has said they never made a decision either to create the brigades, or make them the militant wing of Fatah. Since 2002, some leaders in Fatah have tried to get the brigades to stop attacking Israelis.[7]

In November 2003 BBC journalists uncovered a payment by Fatah of $50,000 a month to Al-Aqsa.[8] This investigation, combined with the documents found by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), led the government of Israel to draw the conclusion that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have always been directly funded by Yasser Arafat. In June 2004 then Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei openly stated this: "We have clearly declared that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades are part of Fatah. We are committed to them and Fatah bears full responsibility for the group."[9] In July he further declared "The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, military wing of the Fatah movement will not be dissolved and Fatah will never relinquish its military wing."[10]

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