Yahya Ayyash

Yahya Ayyash

Yahya Abdal-Tif Ayyash (يحيى عياش; February 22, 1966 - January 5, 1996) was the chief bombmaker of Hamas and the leader of the Samaria battalion of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. In that capacity, he earned the nickname "the Engineer" ( _ar. المهندس, transliterated "Al-Muhandis").

Ayyash is credited with advancing the technique of suicide bombing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The bombings he orchestrated caused the deaths of approximately 90 Israelis. [Katz, 256] A master of disguise, Ayyash was the most wanted man in Israel for three years, and the target of a massive man-hunt. To Palestinians, he was a celebrated hero. Ayyash was assassinated by the Israeli Shabak in 1996. Shabak tricked a friend of Ayyash's into giving him a bomb-laden cell phone. When Ayyash used it, Shabak detonated it, killing him instantly.

Early life

Ayyash was born in Rafat, the eldest of three brothers. As a child, he was very pious, receiving an award from the Islamic Trust [Van Tuyll, Frederik. "«The emergence of the Islamic trust»". Oxford Journals: Trusts and Trustees [http://tandt.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/12/9/7] : "The Islamic trust, governed by both the laws of the jurisdiction under which it is written and by Shari'ah law, has become a popular financial and devolution planning vehicle for assets held by Muslims." ] for his talent in memorizing the Koran. While a boy, Ayyash showed a talent for electrical and mechanical work - repairing radios, television sets, and alike. After graduating from high school in 1985, he entered Bir Zeit University in 1987. He received a bachelor of science in electrical engineering in 1991. [Katz, 9, 70-71]

Work for Hamas

Ayyash built the bombs used in a number of Hamas suicide attacks: the Mehola Junction bombing, the Afula Bus massacre, the Hadera central station massacre, the Tel Aviv bus 5 massacre, the Egged bus 36 bombing, the Ramat Gan bus 20 bombing, and the Jerusalem bus 26 bombing. As part of a strategic alliance between Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ayyash built the bombs used by Islamic Jihad at the Beit Lid massacre. [Katz 77 (Bet El), 106-109 (Afula and Hadera), 147 (#5 bus), 167 (Biet Lid), 191 (#20 bus), 197 (#26 bus)]

Because TNT and other high explosives were generally not available in the Palestinian territories (the West Bank and Gaza strip), Ayyash often used a combination of acetone and detergent, both commonly available household products. When combined, they form Acetone peroxide, an explosive known as "Mother of Satan" for its instability.

Ramat Efal

Ayyash first came to the attention of Israeli security forces as a result of the failed bombing of Ramat Efal. Following a high-speed chase, three would-be Hamas suicide bombers were arrested by police. When police inspected their car, they found it rigged with a bomb - five twelve-kilogram gasoline tanks filled to capacity, connected to an acetone peroxide-based detonator. After evacuating the area, sappers used a robot armed with a shot-gun to shoot the detonator, in the hopes of defusing it. Instead, it detonated, in a massive explosion. [Police investigators] "were sure that if it had been detonated in a crowded area, it would have killed hundreds".

Israeli investigators learned Ayyash's name during subsequent interrogation of the three arrested suspects. [Katz, 5-9]

Death and aftermath

Ayyash's fellow Hamas militants passed him a cell phone. It exploded when Ayyash was using it, killing him instantly. Reportedly, 100,000 Palestinians attended his funeral. [ [http://www.themilitant.com/1996/603/603_19.html Gaza: 100,000 Palestinians Protest Assassination] . The Militant. January 22, 1996]

The State of Israel has a policy that it never confirms or denies its participation in selective assassinations. Per this policy, Israel did not confirm or deny its role in killing Ayyash. This led to wild rumors and speculations as to the extent of their involvement.

Three days after the Ayyash's death, Shabak head Carmi Gillon resigned, due to Shabak's failure to prevent the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

Ayyash was succeeded in the Hamas organization by Mohiyedine Sharif ("the electrician"), one of Ayyash's protégés. Ayyash's death, along with Israel's subsequent targeting of other master bomb-makers, led to a noticeable decline in the effectiveness of suicide bombs. [Zuckerman, Mortimer B. Using hate against Israel. June 12, 2000 U.S. News and World Report] At the time of Ayyash's suicide attacks, the border between Israel and the West Bank was quite porous, making it easy for a suicide bomber to cross into Israel unnoticed. Since then, the Israeli West Bank barrier has made it significantly harder for Palestinians suicide-bombers to cross into Israel.


* Katz, Samuel. The Hunt for the Engineer. Lyons Press, 2002. ISBN 1-58574-749-1


External links

* [http://www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/6_04/ayash.htm A senior Palestinian terrorist as role model and admired figure] at Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S), Israel
* [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2001/549/re1.htm Jury, judge and executioner] by Saleh Abdel Jawad in Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 August 2001

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