- Co-founder and spiritual leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas
- Ordered numerous bombings and murders of Israelis and of Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel
- Was killed by missiles from an Israeli helicopter gun ship in 2004
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin co-founded the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and remained its “spiritual leader” until his death in 2004. He originally referred to the group as the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Born sometime between 1929 and 1938 near Ashkelon, he and his family moved to Gaza after his village was destroyed during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. A sports accident when he was young left Yassin nearly blind, paraplegic and confined to a wheel chair.
While attending Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt Yassin was influenced by Islamism, Arab nationalism and joined the clandestine Muslim Brotherhood. He co-founded Hamas with Abdel Aziz Al-Rantissi in 1987.
An Israeli court in 1989 tried and convicted the Sheikh (an honorific title bestowed by his followers) on charges that he had ordered Hamas members to kill two Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel and to kidnap and kill two soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Sentenced to life in prison, Yassin, reported Cable News Network (CNN), “was freed in 1997 under the terms of a deal arranged by King Hussein of Jordan, who asked Israel to release Yassin in exchange for two Israeli Mossad agents who had attempted to kill Khalid Mishaal, a Hamas leader, in Jordan.”
CNN neglected to mention that one condition of Yassin’s release was that he refrain from calling for suicide bombings against Israel. But such bombings continued, causing a recurring nightmare of carnage, horror and suffering. [ Warning: this link displays color photographs of dead suicide bombers. ]
On September 6, 2003, Yassin was only lightly wounded in a Gaza City building hit by an Israeli Air Force F-16’s quarter-ton bomb.
On March 22, 2004 while Yassin was being wheeled out of prayers at a Gaza City mosque, three Hellfire missiles from Israeli helicopter gun ships struck his car and the vehicles carrying his bodyguards. Yassin died instantly, along with seven others. At least 16 were wounded, including two of Yassin’s sons.
Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat declared three days of “official mourning” for the deceased Hamas leader whose orders and organization had murdered nearly 1,500 Israeli men, women and children. After Yassin’s death, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz described the Sheikh as "the Palestinian Bin Laden."
In the summer 2007 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) trial (which looked into evidence of HLF's fundraising on behalf of Hamas), the U.S. government released a list of approximately 300 of HLF’s "unindicted co-conspirators" and "joint venturers." Among the unindicted co-conspirators were many individuals affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas, including Ahmed Yassin, Omar Ahmad, Abdurahman Alamoudi, Yousef al-Qaradawi, Abdallah Azzam, Jamal Badawi, Mohammad Jaghlit, Mousa Abu Marzook, and Abdel Aziz Rantisi. The list also included groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Hamas, INFOCOM, the Islamic Association for Palestine, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Arab Youth Association, the United Association for Studies and Research, and the North American Islamic Trust.