Iran and Palestinian Islamic Jihad
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a relatively small, radical, Islamic-oriented terrorist organization, whose ideology is a combination of religious Islamic fanaticism and extremist nationalism. It views terrorist attacks against Israel as the only means for achieving its goals, the first of which are the destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of a religious Islamic Palestinian state in the area they refer to as "Filisteen" (by which they mean the Land of Israel). During the ongoing violent Palestinian-Israeli confrontation PIJ has perpetrated a series of murderous suicide bombing attacks, the most prominent of which was at the Maxim Restaurant in October 2003.
Both the United States and the European Union have designated the PIJ as a terrorist organization. However, as a rule, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has avoided confrontations with the PIJ and Hamas, thus allowing both movements, which view themselves as the PA's eventual replacement, to increase their strength and to consolidate their positions with the indigenous Palestinian population.
Of all the Palestinian terrorist organizations, the PIJ is the one with the closest ties to Iran and which receives more Iranian aid, especially financial, than any other. For Iran (and for other countries which support international terror), money is one of the most important tools for operating terrorist infrastructures, in this case in the PA-administered territories as well as for encouraging the activities of various Palestinian terrorist organizations. According both to captured PA documents and the statements of terrorists arrested and interrogated, the terrorist organizations operating with Iranian support, that is, the PIJ, Hamas and Hezbollah, regularly receive large sums of money from Iran.
With that it mind, it should be noted that Iran is practically the PIJ's only source of funding. The organization's annual budget has been estimated at several million dollars, a large percentage of which is earmarked for funding terrorist attacks carried out by its operatives against Israel and maintaining its terrorist apparatus: offices, salaries, weapons and explosives, as well as financial aid to the families of casualties and detainees. In July, 2003, the Palestinian security forces claimed that they had confiscated $3 million in cash which Iran had transferred to the PIJ (a considerable sum of money even according to the PIJ's criteria).
In Israeli assessment, only an extremely small amount of the organization's budget is allotted to funding its civilian infrastructure (much smaller than the amounts allotted by Hamas for the same purpose). The PIJ's civilian infrastructure includes a number of societies in the West Bank (al-Ihsan, al-Naqa' for women and the Islamic youth club in Bethlehem) and in the Gaza Strip (seven branches of al-Ihsan). The societies operate in the fields of health, welfare and religious Islamic education.
All of the above provide a clear illustration of how, by means of a relatively "insignificant" investment, Iran bought itself power over a small, "quality" terrorist organization and takes advantage of it to influence its terrorist-operative members to continue their attacks against Israel inside and outside of the PA-administered territories. The organization's suicide bombing attacks are therefore a clear indication of the political success of Iranian support of terror, all of it done without leaving any clear Iranian "fingerprints."