Husam Badran is a Qatar-based senior political officer and spokesman for Hamas.“Hamas denies Qatar asked its leaders to leave,” Middle East Monitor, June 5, 2017, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170605-hamas-denies-qatar-asked-its-leaders-to-leave/. He previously served as a Hamas military commander in the West Bank. Badran allegedly oversaw multiple suicide bombings that resulted in the deaths of over 100 people during the second Palestinian intifada in the early 2000, including the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem, the 2001 Dolphinarium discotheque bombing in Tel Aviv, the 2002 suicide bombing of a Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya, and the 2002 bombing of the Matza restaurant in Haifa. Israel arrested Badran for his role in coordinating these attacks, but he was released in 2011 as part of a prisoner swap with Hamas for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.“Murderers’ Row: Who are the terrorists being freed in the Shalit deal?,” Jewish Telegraph Agency, October 18, 2011, https://www.jta.org/2011/10/18/israel/murderers-row-who-are-the-terrorists-being-freed-in-the-shalit-deal.
Badran was born and grew up in the Askar refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus. While in high school, Badran helped create Hamas’s student wing.“Husam Badran – Member of Hamas Political Bureau,” Hamas, accessed April 5, 2022, https://hamas.ps/en/leader/181/Husam-Badran. He then attended al-Najah University in Nablus, where he became involved in student politics and, in 1985, became a leader of the Islamist student bloc.Mapping Palestinian Politics – Husam Badran, European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed February 3, 2022, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/husam_badran/; “Husam Badran – Member of Hamas Political Bureau,” Hamas, accessed April 5, 2022, https://hamas.ps/en/leader/181/Husam-Badran. Badran earned bachelor’s degrees in history and archaeology. He also completed studies for a master’s degree. According to his Hamas biography, Badran did not receive a degree because of his frequent arrests by Israel.“Husam Badran – Member of Hamas Political Bureau,” Hamas, accessed April 5, 2022, https://hamas.ps/en/leader/181/Husam-Badran. After the start of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, Badran headed Hamas’s military wing in the West Bank and directed multiple bombings that killed scores of Israelis.“Murderers’ Row: Who are the terrorists being freed in the Shalit deal?,” Jewish Telegraph Agency, October 18, 2011, https://www.jta.org/2011/10/18/israel/murderers-row-who-are-the-terrorists-being-freed-in-the-shalit-deal. On April 18, 2002, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli Security Agency arrested Badran during Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield. Israel launched the largescale West Bank security operation in response to the March 27 Park Hotel bombing, one of the bombings in which Badran was implicated. The operation resulted in reportedly thousands of arrests and fierce fighting around the West Bank.“Arrest of Husam Ataf Ali Badran- Head of the Hamas military wing in Samaria-18-Apr-2002,” Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 18, 2002, https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/PressRoom/2002/Pages/Arrest%20of%20Husam%20Ataf%20Ali%20Badran-%20Head%20of%20the%20Hamas.aspx; “Operation Defensive Shield,” Israel Defense Forces, October 30, 2017, https://www.idf.il/en/minisites/wars-and-operations/operation-defensive-shield/; “Report of Secretary-General on Recent Events in Jenin, Other Palestinian Cities,” United Nations, August 1, 2002, https://www.un.org/press/en/2002/SG2077.doc.htm#:~:text=%2D%2D%20Arbitrary%20arrests%20and%20detention,ages%20of%2015%20and%2045.
At the time of his arrest, Israeli authorities accused Badran of responsibility for every major Hamas bombing in Israel in recent years. The IDF called Badran’s arrest “a significant blow to the military infrastructure of” Hamas, which prevented planned attacks.“Arrest of Husam Ataf Ali Badran- Head of the Hamas military wing in Samaria-18-Apr-2002,” Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 18, 2002, https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/PressRoom/2002/Pages/Arrest%20of%20Husam%20Ataf%20Ali%20Badran-%20Head%20of%20the%20Hamas.aspx. In 2004, Badran was sentenced to almost 18 years in prison.Uri Friedman, “The most notorious names in the Shalit prison swap,” Foreign Policy, October 20, 2011, https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/20/the-most-notorious-names-in-the-shalit-prison-swap/. He remained active in Hamas during his incarceration, leading the group’s prisons bureau.Mapping Palestinian Politics – Husam Badran, European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed February 3, 2022, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/husam_badran/.
On June 25, 2006, Palestinian militants from multiple groups crossed the Gaza border into Israel using an underground tunnel and attacked an IDF military outpost. They killed two soldiers and took 19-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit hostage.Tim Butcher, “Soldier Kidnapped and Two Killed in Gaza Tunnel Attack,” Telegraph (London), June 26, 2006, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/1522370/Soldier-kidnapped-and-two-killed-in-Gaza-tunnel-attack.html. In October 2011, Israel negotiated a prisoner swap agreement with Hamas for Shalit in exchange for the release of 1,027 Palestinians from Israeli prisons. Badran was released on October 18, 2011, as part of the first group of 477 prisoners released.Jeffrey Heller and Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Israel and Hamas Agree Prisoner Swap to Free Shalit,” Reuters, October 11, 2011, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-israel-palestinians-shalit/israel-and-hamas-agree-prisoner-swap-to-free-shalit-idUKTRE79A64E20111011; “Full list: The Palestinian prisoners,” Al Jazeera, October 16, 2011, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2011/10/16/full-list-the-palestinian-prisoners; Ethan Bronner and Stephen Farrell, “Israeli Soldier Swapped for Hundreds of Palestinians,” New York Times, October 18, 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/19/world/middleeast/israel-and-palestinians-begin-prisoner-exchange.html. Israel released another 550 prisoners that December.“Israel releases 550 Palestinian prisoners,” France 24, December 18, 2011, https://www.france24.com/en/20111218-israel-frees-550-palestinian-prisoners-swap-deal-gilad-shalit-release.
As part of the agreement, Israel deported Badran to Syria. From there, he was expelled to Qatar.Uri Friedman, “The most notorious names in the Shalit prison swap,” Foreign Policy, October 20, 2011, https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/20/the-most-notorious-names-in-the-shalit-prison-swap/; “Husam Badran – Member of Hamas Political Bureau,” Hamas, accessed April 5, 2022, https://hamas.ps/en/leader/181/Husam-Badran. There, he continued to work in support of Hamas’s extremist activities. On July 1, 2015, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency revealed it had recently uncovered a Hamas cell in and around the West Bank city of Nablus, as well as an armed cell in the Jenin area of the West Bank. The cells were reportedly planning terror attacks inside Israel. Badran allegedly directed the Nablus cell from Qatar. According to the Shin Bet, Badran sent the cell orders and hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding. Badran allegedly transferred the money as gold and jewelry to Jordan, where a known Hamas money launderer and gold merchant from Nablus allegedly helped smuggle the valuables into the West Bank.Ben Hartman, “Shin Bet: Hamas attempt to build terror network in West Bank thwarted,” Jerusalem Post, July 1, 2015, https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Shin-Bet-Hamas-attempt-to-build-terror-network-in-West-Bank-thwarted-in-raids-407674. Badran has also acted as an international spokesman for Hamas from Qatar, openly voicing support for the group’s violence. Following an April 18, 2016, Hamas bus bombing wounded 21 people in Jerusalem, Badran called the attack an affirmation the Palestinians “will not abandon the resistance path.”Ian Deitch, “Jerusalem bus bombing wounds 21 Israelis,” Associated Press, April 18, 2016, https://apnews.com/article/cfa9d8e5cd954f0f9e8679555c272d26.
In May 2017, Hamas elected Badran to its political bureau. Badran received the National Relations portfolio, responsible for diplomatic affairs between Hamas and other Palestinian factions.Elhanan Miller, “Between War and Peace: An Interview With Senior Hamas Leader Husam Badran,” Tablet, September 17, 2018, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/israel-middle-east/articles/interview-hamas-leader-husam-badran. Nonetheless, Badran has been critical of the Palestinian Authority, which oversees the West Bank. After PA security forces arrested 108 Hamas members in overnight raids in July 2015, Badran accused the Palestinian security forces of working for Israel. According to Badran, Hamas held PA President Mahmoud Abbas personally responsible for the “persecution and terror” employed by his forces.Avi Issacharoff and staff, “PA arrests 108 Hamas members in West Bank,” Times of Israel, July 3, 2015, https://www.timesofisrael.com/pa-arrests-108-hamas-members-in-west-bank/. He further pledged Hamas would continue attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and “use all means to stop the crimes against our senior members in the West Bank.”Avi Issacharoff and staff, “PA arrests 108 Hamas members in West Bank,” Times of Israel, July 3, 2015, https://www.timesofisrael.com/pa-arrests-108-hamas-members-in-west-bank/.
In a 2018 interview with the U.S. Jewish news website Tablet, Badran blamed Gaza’s economic and humanitarian crises on both Israel and Abbas’s Fatah party. He accused the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority of cutting off Gaza financially to force Hamas to relinquish control of the territory. He accused Israel of poor decision-making and allowing politicians to go unchecked. Badran claimed Israeli politicians were acting out of personal motivations, a sign of Israel’s growing weakness.Elhanan Miller, “Between War and Peace: An Interview With Senior Hamas Leader Husam Badran,” Tablet, September 17, 2018, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/israel-middle-east/articles/interview-hamas-leader-husam-badran. After the Ramallah Magistrate’s Court blocked 59 social media pages and news sites in October 2019, Badran accused the Palestinian Authority of working with Israel to wage “war against written and photographed Palestinian works that have exposed the occupation’s violations, corruption and crimes.”Adam Rasgon, “PA court orders dozens of social media pages and news sites blocked,” Times of Israel, October 22, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/pa-court-orders-dozens-of-social-media-pages-and-news-sites-blocked/. According to the court, the sites were with the Palestinian Information Ministry and were “publishing materials that threaten national security and public order.”Adam Rasgon, “PA court orders dozens of social media pages and news sites blocked,” Times of Israel, October 22, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/pa-court-orders-dozens-of-social-media-pages-and-news-sites-blocked/.
After conferring with Hamas and other Palestinian factions, the Palestinian Authority was set to hold long-delayed legislative elections in May 2021. However, Abbas indefinitely postponed the elections that April, citing Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinian in east Jerusalem to vote. Regional analysts suggested Abbas delayed the elections out of fear of a Hamas political victory.Adnan Abu Amer, “Hamas rallies opposition to Abbas after elections pushed back,” Al-Monitor, April 29, 2021, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/05/hamas-rallies-opposition-abbas-after-elections-pushed-back; “Fatah intensifies efforts to postpone elections fearing a Hamas win,” Middle East Monitor, April 20, 2021, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210420-fatah-intensifies-efforts-to-postpone-elections-fearing-a-hamas-win/; “Hamas: Delaying election will affect future of Palestine reconciliation,” April 28, 2021, https://www.counterextremism.com/threat/hamas#:~:text=Adnan%20Abu%20Amer,com/2021%E2%80%A6. That October, Badran accused the Palestinian Authority of attacking Hamas through PA media outlets.https://hamas.ps/en/post/3654/Partial-local-vote-won-t-grant-PA-any-legitimacy-says-Hamas-official. In a December 2021 appearance on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV, Badran called Palestinian national unity “essential,” and Israel would be the only “loser” if unity is achieved.“‘Hamas is committed to intra-Palestinian unity,’ says Hamas official,” Hamas, December 10, 2021, https://hamas.ps/en/post/3785/Hamas-is-committed-to-intra-Palestinian-unity-says-Hamas-official.
The Palestinians were set to hold municipal elections starting in December 2021. However, Hamas boycotted the first phase of municipal elections that month. According to Badran, Hamas had demanded written guarantees Abbas would not cancel the election at the last minute. The Palestinian Central Elections Commission called Hamas’s demands political.https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-691423. That January, Badran joined a Hamas delegation to Algeria for inter-Palestinian faction negotiations.Khaled Abu Toameh, “PA minister panned for blaming Hamas for floods,” Jerusalem Post, January 18, 2022, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-693860. In April 2022, Badran called on the Palestinian Authority to release all political prisoners.“Hamas calls for PA to release political prisoners,” Middle East Monitor, April 2, 2022, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220402-hamas-calls-for-pa-to-release-political-prisoners/.
Badran has also sought to raise the profile of Hamas prisoners in Israel. According to Badran, Hamas is willing to “sacrifice everything” to win the release of its members from Israeli prisons.“Hamas official says group wants ‘significant achievement’ in swap deal,” Times of Israel, May 3, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-official-says-group-wants-significant-achievement-in-swap-deal/. In his 2018 Tablet interview, Badran insisted any new prisoner swap deal with Israel must include at least as many Palestinians as were released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner agreement. He further called for the release of 26 veteran security prisoners in Israel who were sentenced before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, as well as more than 40 Hamas members who had since been rearrested after their release in the Shalit deal.https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/israel-middle-east/articles/interview-hamas-leader-husam-badran.
Badran has been critical of Arab normalization with Israel, which he has equated with a “stab in the back” of the Palestinian people.“Hamas slams Facebook for blocking Palestinian activists' accounts,” Middle East Monitor, January 8, 2017, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170108-hamas-slams-facebook-for-blocking-palestinian-activists-accounts/; “Normalising ties with Israeli occupation is ‘stab in the back of the Palestinian people,’ Badran states,” Hamas, April 15, 2019, https://hamas.ps/en/post/2044/Normalising-ties-with-Israeli-occupation-is-stab-in-the-back-of-the-Palestinian-people-Badran-states. After Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February 2019, for example, Badran issued Hamas’s rejection of “all forms of normalization with” Israel.“Hamas condemns Omani FM’s meeting with Netanyahu,” Hamas, February 14, 2019, https://hamas.ps/en/post/1917/Hamas-condemns-Omani-FM-s-meeting-with-Netanyahu. He also condemned the “Deal of the Century” peace plan put forward by then-U.S. President Donald Trump, referring to it as “an illusion the Israeli occupation has been chasing.”“Press release on Trump-drawn map of Palestine in Deal of Century,” Hamas, April 7, 2019, https://hamas.ps/en/post/2027/Press-release-on-Trump-drawn-map-of-Palestine-in-Deal-of-Century.
Badran remains a high-level member of Hamas’s political bureau and regularly participates in Hamas’s international diplomacy. In January 2022, for example, Badran traveled to Algiers, Algeria, with Hamas official Khalid al-Hayya for inter-Palestinian faction negotiations. The Hamas delegation was headed by Azzam al-Ahmed.Khaled Abu Toameh, “PA minister panned for blaming Hamas for floods,” Jerusalem Post, January 18, 2022, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-693860.
Badran remains based in Qatar where there are no restrictions on his activities or movement. He was one of several Hamas officials to attend the September 2022 funeral of Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Qatar.“Senior Hamas officials attend funeral of prominent Islamic scholar,” Hamas, September 27, 2022, https://hamas.ps/en/post/4293/Senior-Hamas-officials-attend-funeral-of-prominent-Islamic-scholar. However, he is named in a 2020 U.S. civil lawsuit accusing Qatar of financing Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Relatives of 10 Americans who were either killed or seriously wounded during terrorist attacks in Israel and the West Bank between 2014 and 2016 filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Qatari royal family. According to the lawsuit, Qatar attempted to evade U.S. sanctions on the two terror groups by directing money through the Qatar Charity, the U.S.-sanctioned charity Union of Good, Qatar National Bank (QNB), and Masraf Al-Rayan bank. The lawsuit also accuses QNB of maintaining a bank account for Badran.Ray Hanania, “Lawsuit names Qatar’s royal family in killings of 10 Americans in Israel,” Arab News, June 12, 2020, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1688051/middle-east.
- Extremist entity
- Type(s) of Organization:
- Political, religious, social service provider, terrorist, violent
- Ideologies and Affiliations:
- Islamist, jihadist, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group, pan-Islamist, Qutbist, Sunni
- Spokesman, Member of Political Bureau
Hamas is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization which has killed hundreds of Israeli citizens, as well as Americans, in suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks. Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since it violently expelled the Palestinian Authority in 2007.
Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.
On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.