Middle Eastern media are reporting that Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas political leadership, has decided to step down from his position. According to a Daily Star report:
July 19, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (GAZA CITY: Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas movement, has reaffirmed his decision to relinquish leadership of the group, Hamas officials said on Tuesday. The movement in January announced its longtime leader-in-exile was ready to step down from his post, but said members were hoping he would reconsider his decision. But Hamas officials in Gaza and outside the Palestinian territories said Tuesday that Meshaal was determined to give up the leadership. ‘It seems that Abu al-Walid (Meshaal) has taken the decision not to stand again as a candidate for the head of the political bureau of the movement,’ a Hamas member in Gaza told AFP on condition of anonymity. ‘That’s what he told members of the political bureau and the leadership during a meeting in Cairo this month.’ The comments confirmed a posting on the official Facebook page of Izzat al-Rishq, another senior Hamas leader in exile. ‘During the last meeting of the political bureau of the movement, which included leaders inside and in exile, and as leadership elections approach, brother Khaled Meshaal reiterated his wish not to accept candidacy for the head of the political bureau,’ he wrote.
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According to a BBC profile, Mr. Meshaal (aka Khaled Mishal) joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1971:
“Mr Meshaal was born in 1956 in the village of Silwad, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Meshaal has been increasingly important since Sheikh Yassin died. His father, like many other Palestinians, travelled to the Gulf emirate of Kuwait in the 1960s for work. His family followed after the area fell under Israeli occupation in 1967.At school, Mr Meshaal became involved in Palestinian and Islamic activism. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1971. Mr Meshaal continued to take interest political Islam while studying physics at Kuwait University and he founded a student organisation called the List of the Islamic Right. After graduating in 1978, he spent a number of years teaching physics in Kuwait. In 1987, Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Gaza founded the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in response to a mass uprising against the Israeli occupation. Mr Meshaal became increasingly involved with Hamas over the next few years, leading what was known as the Kuwait contingent of Palestinians who lived and worked there.
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A post from May 2009 provides further detail on Mr. Meshaal’s early activities in the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood.
The Hamas charter states that it is ” is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and an early media report indicated that shortly after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives were present to review Hamas military formations . In 2007, a Hamas journalist acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons and in 2008, an Israeli TV station reported that Muslim Brotherhood “representatives” had traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the open border to meet with Hamas. Hamas is supported financially and politically by the global Muslim Brotherhood and a NEFA Foundation report has documented the Hamas fund-raising activities of the Union of Good, a coalition of Islamic charities linked to the Brotherhood that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. Previous posts have also discussed the worldwide campaign orchestrated by the global Brotherhood against Israeli actions in Gaza during the 2008-2009 conflict with Israel.
It should be noted that Mussa Abu Marzuq (aka Mousa Abu Marzook), one of the individuals identified above add a possible replacement for Mr. Meshaal, is a former leader in the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.