Saudi media is reporting that according to their sources, the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ] movement is thinking of moving its offices to Cairo or Beirut, because of the deteriorating situation in Damascus and PIJ leaders have met with the leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. According to an Asharq Alawsat report:
Ramallah, Asharq al-Awsat – According to informed Palestinian sources, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ] movement is thinking of moving its offices to Cairo or Beirut, because of the deteriorating situation in Damascus. The sources affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that PIJ leaders inside and outside [the Palestinian territories]met in Cairo last week in the presence of PIJ Secretary General Ramadan Shallah, his deputy Ziyad al-Nakhalah, and officials from Gaza, including Nafidh Azzam and Khalid al-Batsh and discussed the issue of relocating its operations to Cairo or Beirut. According to the source, which spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, Shallah suggested at the meeting that work should begin as soon as possible to move the PIJ offices to Cairo or Beirut based on the available capabilities and the position of the country concerned. Some of those present at the meeting supported the proposal while others turned it down. The sources explained that ‘an agreement on one position was not reached because the proponents of the proposal encouraged a quick move while those opposed called for delaying the move until the situation in Syria becomes uncontrollable and the regime falls’. A large delegation headed by Shallah began a visit on Wednesday to the Egyptian capital, Cairo to meet with the new Egyptian leaders and review the current and future Palestinian situation. Shallah met with Dr Muhammad Badi, the controller general of the Muslim Brotherhood movement; Ismail Haniyah, the prime minister of the dismissed cabinet in the Gaza Strip; and Murad Muwafi, director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate. According to the sources, the PIJ officials hinted to Muwafi that they may request opening PIJ offices in the future if the movement’s presence in Syria becomes impossible. The delegation was expected to meet with Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi as announced by Nafidh Azzam, member of the PIJ Political Bureau, who had said that the meeting with Mursi (that did not take place) would review several dossiers, especially the Palestinian issue, and events and developments in the Arab region.
A 2008 Council on Foreign Relations report described the PIJ as:
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is an Islamic, Palestinian nationalist organization that violently opposes the existence of Israel. Designated as a U.S. State Department terrorist organization in 1997, the PIJ targets Israeli civilian and military personnel in its commitment to the creation of an Islamic regime in “all of historic Palestine,” according to the State Department’s 2006 Country Report on terrorism. The PIJ, unlike Fatah or Hamas, does not participate in the political process. The founders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fathi Shaqaqi and Abd al-Aziz Awda, were students in Egypt and members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood until the late 1970s when they decided that the brotherhood was becoming too moderate and insufficiently committed to the Palestinian cause. The PIJ emerged as a separate entity committed to the militant destruction of Israel and the reestablishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. The PIJ, despite being a Sunni group, took inspiration from revolutionary, theocratic Shia ideals espoused during the 1979 Iranian Revolution that established an Islamic regime.
In January, Egyptian media reported that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were holding talks about merging their two factions.
The PIJ leader in the U.S. was known to have been Sami Al-Arian who pleaded guilty to one count of “Conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a Specially Designated Terrorist” and was sentenced on May 1, 2006, to 57 months in prison and then to be deported.
For a profile of Al-Arian, go here.