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Fatah al-Intifada

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Fatah al-Intifada (Arabic, Fatah Uprising, فتح الانتفاضة) is a Palestinian militant faction founded by Col. Said al-Muragha, better known as 'Abu Musa'. The group is often referred to as the 'Abu Musa Faction'. Officially it refers to itself as the Palestinian National Liberation Movement - "Fatah" ("حركة التحرير الوطني الفلسطيني - "فتح), the identical name of the major Fatah movement. Fatah al-Intifada is not part of the PLO.


Rupture with PLO

Originally part of Fatah, Fatah al-Intifada broke away from the organization in 1983, during the PLO's participation in the Lebanese Civil War. The split was due to differences between Abu Musa and Yassir Arafat over a number of issues, including military decisions and corruption. Fatah al-Intifada was formed with Syrian support and quickly attracted a number of Palestinian guerrillas disillusioned with Arafat's role in Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). There was also a political dimension: the organization took a more leftist view than the generally apolitical Fatah, and used socialist phraseology. Abu Musa is known to have advocated the view that the Lebanese Civil War was not a sectarian conflict, but a form of class war. Syria provided extensive backing as the Abu Musa forces attacked Arafat loyalists in Fatah, while several radical PLO organizations in the Rejectionist Front stayed on the sidelines. The fighting led to heavy losses on both sides, and helped Syria extend its influence into Palestinian-held areas of Lebanon. Fatah al-Intifada quickly fell under the dominance of the Syrian army, and came to be widely regarded as a Syrian puppet organization.

War of the camps

In 1985-88, Fatah al-Intifada took part in the War of the camps, a Syrian attempt to root out the PLO from its refugee camp strongholds backed by the Shiite Amal militia and some Palestinian rejectionist factions. After a joint effort by the Syrian Army and a number of Palestinian and Lebanese groups controlled or supported by Damascus, including Fatah al-Intifada, the PFLP-GC, as-Sa'iqa, Amal, the Syrian PLA and parts of the PLF, the PLO was gradually expelled from Lebanon in the mid-to late 1980s. By that time Fatah al-Intifada had been reduced to a minor part of Syria's network of militia proxies, with little or no independent decision-making.


By the late 1980s, Fatah al-Intifada had a brief rapprochement with Arafat's Fatah, but due to its opposition to the Oslo Accords, and generally poor relations between the PLO and the Assad regime, Fatah al-Intifada has not been able to secure a role in today's Palestinian politics. Instead it remains a minor faction in the Palestinian refugee camps of Syria and Lebanon, where it was able to organize under the umbrella of the Syrian military presence until its end in 2005. It remains very much a part of Syrian-sponsored efforts to influence Palestinian politics, regularly backing Syrian initiatives and being a core member of a Syrian-led coalition of Palestinian groups based in Damascus. However, it has little or no influence outside these countries, and there is no known or official Fatah al-Intifada presence in the Palestinian Territories.

Fatah al-Islam splinter

In 2006, reports alleged that some 200 members of Fatah al-Intifada had broken away from the main organization to form an extremist Islamist group by the name of Fatah al-Islam. This movement, which denied ties to Syria and was reportedly involved in conflict with the Syrian government, was based in the northern Lebanese refugee camp Nahr al-Bared, and professed sympathy for al-Qaida. According to newspaper reports, it was joined by Salafi activists from other countries, such as Pakistan, Jordan, Algeria and Bangladesh, but it remained on the fringe of Palestinian politics, viewed with suspicion by the larger, mainstream factions such as the PLO groups and Hamas. Fatah al-Islam took part in a series of violent shootouts with the Lebanese army in May 2007, with several tens of killed and extensive damage to and flight from the Nahr al-Bared camp.


Abu Musa retired from leadership in the 1990s. The post of Secretary-General is now held by Abu Khalid al-'Umla, while Abu Fadi Hammad acts as Regional Secretary-General for Lebanon.

Militant activities

During the 1980s, Fatah al-Intifada committed a number of attacks on Israel, including on Israeli civilians, but it has not been involved in violence against Israel since sometime before the Oslo Accords in 1993. The group is not believed to possess any capacity to attack targets in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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