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Profile: Marwan Barghouti

Barghouti was arrested by the IDF in Ramallah
Barghouti was arrested by the IDF in Ramallah  

By CNN's Chris Burns

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Marwan Barghouti knows how to fire up a crowd. He is streetwise, charismatic -- a potential successor to Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat.

Israel arrested the secretary-general of Arafat's Fatah movement on Monday, saying he had fostered a bloody terrorist campaign against Israel by leading directly, or indirectly, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed faction of Fatah. (Full story)

Barghouti denies the charge, although he has supported the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The Palestinian joined Fatah as a teenager. When the first Palestinian uprising against occupation broke out in 1987, Barghouti helped direct the movement from across the border in Jordan, where Israel had deported him that year.

He returned with an olive branch in 1994 under the Oslo peace accords and became a member of the Palestinian legislative council developing ties with Israeli politicians and peace activists.

The second intifada broke out in 2000 after peace talks broke down.

Barghouti has often attended funerals of those killed in the uprising, and condoned attacks on Israeli troops or settlers in the West Bank and Gaza as legitimate means to end of the occupation.

He also supports attacks on what he says are Israeli attempts to crush the Palestinian Authority itself.

He has said: "There is an Israeli plan to continue to destroy the Palestinian Authority, to try to topple Mr. Arafat and destroy the Palestinian intifada and the Palestinian resistance, but I think they failed to do that.

"This will not stop the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian intifada."

But those whom Barghouti sees as freedom fighters are deemed by others as terrorists.

Israel says he actively supported suicide bombings and other terror attacks in Israel.

His ties to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades remain unclear but Israel believes it has enough evidence to take the political risk of jailing, and trying, a highly popular leader many Israelis thought they could do business with.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has carried out numerous attacks against military targets and civilians in Israel and in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Last month the U.S. State Department designated it as a foreign terrorist organization.


• Israelis arrest top Arafat aide
April 15, 2002



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