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. While there, Haniyya met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and was also received by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ismail Haniyya was born in 1963 in the Shaati Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza. He graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza in 1987 with a degree in Arabic literature and soon joined the ranks of Hamas. In 1992, he was deported by Israeli authorities to South Lebanon but returned to Gaza a year later. Haniyya served as one of the closest assistants to Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and took over as head of the government after Yassin’s assassination in 2004. He has been living in Doha (Qatar) for recent years and his personal fortune is estimated at more than $4 billion.

Ziyad al-Nahala was born in 1953 in Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip. As a teenager he was detained several times by Israeli military and intelligence services for extremist actions and sentenced to life imprisonment as an Arab Liberation Front militant involved in terrorist attacks. He was released on May 21, 1985 as part of an exchange deal known as “Jibril deal.” After his release he returned to Gaza Strip where he joined Islamic Jihad organization created with support from Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. In August 1988 he was deported to Lebanon where he became deputy secretary general of Islamic Jihad

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