Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders make diplomatic visit to Tehran

On March 26, Ismail Haniyya, the head of the Politburo of Hamas, and Ziyad al-Nahala, the Secretary General of Islamic Jihad, both visited Tehran to meet with Iranian officials. During their visit, they were received by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Ismail Haniyya was born in 1963 in the Shaati Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza. After graduating from the Islamic University of Gaza in Arabic literature in 1987 and joining Hamas that same year, he became one of the closest assistants to Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. In 1998, he became head of Hamas’ office and took over as head of government after Yassin’s assassination by Israel in 2004. He was elected as new head of the Hamas politburo in May 2017 and his tenure was extended for another four years on August 1st, 2021. He is currently residing in Doha (Qatar) with an estimated personal fortune of over $4 billion.

Ziyad al-Nahala was born in Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza Strip. As a teenager he was detained several times by Israeli military and intelligence services for extremist actions. He was sentenced to life imprisonment as an Arab Liberation Front militant involved in terrorist attacks and released on May 21st, 1985 as part of “Jibril deal”. He joined Islamic Jihad soon after his release and formed its military wing called Al-Quds Brigade. He took part in the first intifada as a brigade commander. He is among most dangerous terrorists wanted by US authorities with a reward up to $5 million for information leading to his capture. His accounts have been frozen by US government. Ziyad al-Nakhala became Secretary General of Islamic Jihad on September 28th, 2018 replacing Ramadan Shalah who became seriously ill.

By Samantha Johnson

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