Ramadan Abdullah Mohammed Shalah, 62, who was the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) between 1995 and 2018, died on 6 June 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon after a series of strokes.
PIJ has been designated a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel. When Shalah became secretary-general of PIJ, replacing Fathi Shiqaqi who had been assassinated by Israel in Malta, he, too, was designated a Specially Designated Terrorist by the United States, and in 2006 he was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.
Shalah was indicted, along with PIJ’s Abd Al Aziz Awda, in a 53 count indictment in the US District Court in Tampa, Florida, on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges of alleged involvement in racketeering activities for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a US designated international terrorist organization. Shalah was wanted for conspiracy to conduct the affairs of the PIJ through a pattern of racketeering activities such as bombings, murders, extortion, and money laundering.
Under Shalah’s leadership, Iran’s influence over PIJ was maximized and it has in fact become a Tehran proxy in the Gaza Strip, responsible for launching hundreds of rockets at Israel in recent years. During his 23 years at the helm of PIJ, the group undertook numerous attacks on Israeli civilians, including suicide bombings; and suffered extensive IDF attacks on its infrastructure, which resulted in severe losses.