In its early years it functioned in a clandestine fashion. What is known is that in the mid-50s, Yasser Arafat went to Kuwait, where he organized some 20 Palestinians. For this, he drew on the membership of the Union of Palestinian Students, which had been organized by Arafat and his coterie at Cairo University in 1952; the union was affiliated with the radical Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. One of the co-founders of the group, with Arafat from the beginning, was Mahmoud Abbas, today President of the Palestinian Authority.

Fatah founders Abbas and Arafat stayed close for many years


A close associate of Arafat’s, Khalil Wazir (a.k.a. Abu Jihad) then went to Algeria to open Fatah’s first office. Algeria had just undergone a revolution, carrying out a war of terror to boot out the French. The ideologue of that revolution was Franz Fanon, who espoused the philosophy that violence was a catharsis for oppressed peoples — an end in itself. There is solid reason to believe that Fatah adopted this as its model.

By the early 60s, Fatah’s goal was the launching — from Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt-occupied Gaza — of commando raids against Israel. It went public with this in 1965 for a specific reason: The year before, the PLO had been founded with Egyptian support, and had adopted a pan-Arab stance; Fatah opposed its position.




The policy of launching border attacks continued, and escalated, until the Six Day War in 1967. The defeat of Arab armies by Israel left a power vacuum in the PLO. By 1968, Fatah had gained control of the PLO, and within a year Arafat was at its head, where he remained until his death.

From 1968 until the present, Fatah has essentially controlled the PLO. When the PA was spun off from the PLO, Fatah members controlled this entity as well, until January 2006.


The constitution of Fatah still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. It says: "Armed public revolution is the inevitable method to liberating Palestine."

The constitution can be found at:


At the time of the signing of the Declaration of Principles of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Central Committee of Fatah was opposed.

In many ways the ideology of Fatah resembles that of Hamas.  The key difference is that Fatah is nationalist while Hamas is Islamist.


Fatah is actually a loose amalgamation of factions, rather than one unified group at present. 

Two terror-associated factions have spun off from it.  The Tanzim is a paramiliatary unit founded by Yasser Arafat in 1995, designed to attract young people away from the Islamist movements.  Boasting a considerable arsenal, it played a considerable role in the violence of the Al Aksa Intifada begun in 2000.  Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades was a spin-off from the Tanzim in 2001 founded and led by Marwan Barghouti until his conviction and imprisonment in Israel for involvement in multiple murders. 

Defiant Marwan Barghouti under arrest


The Brigades are directly Fatah-connected and have received direct PA assistance. In addition, this group sometimes cooperates with Hamas or Islamic Jihad in carrying out terrorist operations.

Terrorists rallying


Tensions are high in Fatah as a result of a power fight between the Old Guard -- those who came with Arafat from Tunis, and the Young Turks -- those who grew up in Gaza and Judea-Samaria, were involved in the First Intifada, and frequently served time in Israeli prisons.  These tensions were evident in the primaries preceeding the January 2006 legislative elections.

Fatah-associated gunmen have been prevalent in generating unrest and lawlessness in the Palestinian Authority in 2005 and early 2006.  There have been numerous instances in which they registered protests when discontented with a situation by entering the PA legislative chambers or judicial chambers or police offices and shooting.

Fatah gunmen protesting