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FILE Yassin 2 - FILE Edited version of Yassin Obit
NAME: FILE YASSIN2 220304Nx TAPE: EF04/0330 IN_TIME: 10:56:56:02 DURATION: 00:05:15:10 SOURCES: VARIOUS DATELINE: FILE RESTRICTIONS: See Script SHOTLIST: IBA Israel - December 1998 1. Yassin wheeled in wheelchair by Israeli Army military court soldiers 2. People waiting in court 3. Yassin talking to journalists IBA Ashkelon, Israel - February 1990 4. Yassin wheeled in by Israeli policeman 5. Yassin inside his jail cell 6. Door of Yassin's jail cell being closed by policeman 7. Yassin talking to policeman IBA Israel - October 1997 8. Israeli Ambulances at airport 9. Yassin on wheelchair escorted by Israeli soldiers 10. Yassin taken away to plane to be flown to Jordan JTV Amman - October 1997 11. Yassin at Amman Airport to be flown to Gaza IBA Ashkelon, Israel - February 1990 12. Establisher Yassin's translator talking to journalist in street 13. SOUNDBITE: (English) Yassin's translator translating Sheik Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of the militant Hamas: "The cease fire will not be until the occupation is taken off" APTN Gaza City, Gaza Strip - October 1997 14. Jordanian helicopter landing 15. Yasser Arafat's wife Suha greeting Yassin 16. People carrying Yassin into wheelchair 17. Palestinian pushing Yassin's wheelchair 18. Yassin's car being guarded by Palestinian police 19. Welcome rally for Yassin 20. Yassin arriving at rally 21. Demonstrators holding up Yassin's picture 22. Women demonstrators holding up Yassin's picture 23. Yassin arriving house 24. Palestinians greeting Yassin at his house 25. Various of men kissing and welcoming Yassin 26. Yassin sitting 27. Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader arriving at Yassin's house 28. Arafat and Yassin talking 29. Wide Arafat and Yassin at house APTN Gaza City, Gaza Strip - June 1998 30. Yassin's car surrounded by crowd 31. Yassin sitting at rally APTN Gaza City, Gaza Strip December 1999 32. Various of Yassin in hospital bed APTN Gaza City, Gaza Strip - September 2003 33. Palestinians running towards house bombed by Israeli jets targeting Yassin 34. Various of destroyed house APTN Gaza City, Gaza Strip November 2003 35. Yassin with Palestinian Prime minister Ahmed Qureia APTN Gaza City, Gaza Strip - January 2004 36. Sheikh Yassin wheeled in street 37. Various Yassin in Gaza mosque STORYLINE: Sheik Ahmed Yassin, a quadriplegic preacher who founded the Islamic group Hamas and presided over its rise to a violent, radical alternative to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, was assassinated in an Israeli airstrike Monday. He was in his mid sixties. Yassin was killed instantly when an Israeli helicopter launched three missiles at him at daybreak Monday as he was leaving a mosque after morning prayers. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, many of them in tears, spontaneously poured into the street. Hamas vowed revenge. Yassin's Hamas was responsible for scores of suicide bombings and other deadly attacks on Israelis, but at the same time curried loyalty from impoverished Palestinians by offering desperately needed social services, from kindergartens to health clinics. The frail man with the high-pitched voice was the ideological force behind the militant group, which rejects the existence of Israel and opposed interim peace accords. More recently, he said it would be acceptable to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, to be used as a temporary base to destroy Israel. "Islam is the only answer," Yassin said in an AP interview in 1997. "Everything springs from that." Hamas' goal of establishing an Islamic state in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, puts it not only at odds with Israel but poses a threat to the Palestinian Authority, which takes a secular approach to governing and recognises Israel. In response to his unyielding rejectionist attitude and the almost unrelenting Hamas attacks, Israel marked Yassin for death. In September 2003, it dropped a 550-pound bomb on a building where he was meeting with top Hamas leaders. Everyone escaped relatively unscathed; Yassin received a slight wound on his hand and was carried out of the building by his bodyguards. A childhood sporting accident left Yassin almost completely paralyzed and in recent years he was nearly blind, with poor hearing. But for all his physical frailty, he had compelling charisma. Palestinians identified with him as a victim and viewed him as a symbol of strength in the face of adversity. Yassin was born in what is now the Israeli city of Ashkelon, and his family, like those of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, was uprooted in 1948 with the founding of Israel. He grew up in Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. He made a name for himself as a teacher and spiritual leader. He would spend his days reclining on a mattress in his three-room concrete house in the Gaza City district of Sabra, reading holy books, receiving disciples and settling disputes. He did not so much speak as declaim, in language peppered with Quranic allusions. He could move his fingers just enough for limited but highly expressive hand gestures, and would underscore declarations by rearing back his head and rolling his brown eyes. When he appeared in public, devotees would stand over his wheelchair, tenderly adjusting his white headscarf. Although Yassin handled millions of dollars in donations from supporters, he was revered for never taking money for himself and his family - his wife Halima and their 11 now-grown children. That almost monastic existence stood in sharp contrast to the extravagant, corruption-tainted lifestyles adopted by some Palestinian Authority officials after Gaza came under self-rule in 1994. Through much of his life, Yassin was a respected religious figure. The first Palestinian uprising, which erupted in December 1987, put him on the political map. Within weeks, he had founded Hamas as an offshoot of the radical Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas - which means "zeal" and is also the Arab acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement - gained a reputation for ruthlessness, especially against fellow Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. Despite that, Hamas was not formally outlawed by Israeli military authorities until 1989, fueling the still commonly held belief that Israeli and U.S. intelligence fostered the group as a useful counterweight to Arafat's PLO. With the banning of Hamas, Yassin and nearly 200 other group members were jailed in a mass raid. Eventually brought to trial before an Israeli military court, he acknowledged founding Hamas - but admitted to none of the other 14 charges against him. He was convicted of organising attacks on civilians and ordering the kidnappings of two Israeli soldiers - one of whom was killed - and sentenced to life in prison. In jail, Yassin suffered from a variety of ailments, including chronic bronchitis and eye and ear maladies that left his vision and hearing seriously impaired. Israeli officials worried Yassin might die in captivity, and that this could set off Palestinian riots. But fate - in the form of one of Israel's worst espionage blunder in years - intervened to free him. In September 1997, agents of Israel's Mossad spy agency tried to assassinate another Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, by poisoning him during a street ambush in Amman, Jordan. The agents were nabbed by Jordanian authorities, and the late King Hussein reportedly threatened to try them publicly and hang them if Israel didn't provide an antidote for the nerve agent used against Mashaal. To ransom its agents, Israel was forced to release dozens of Palestinian prisoners, including Yassin. More than 10,000 cheering followers packed a rundown Gaza City soccer stadium to welcome him back. In the Gaza street, he was praised as a "mujahed," or holy warrior, and accorded the honorific "sheik of the intifada." Even before Yassin's release, Hamas dealings with the Palestinian Authority were strained. In 1996, Arafat had jailed hundreds of Hamas activists, subjecting them to the ultimate indignity of shaving off their beards, worn as a sign of devout adherence to Islam. After Yassin gained his freedom, he and Arafat went out of their way to publicly pledge brotherhood. But Hamas remained an implacable opponent of peace with Israel, and Arafat's prestige was staked on the continuation of the peace process. Tensions mounted. In February of 1998, Yassin left Gaza, ostensibly to obtain medical treatment. Instead, he embarked on a three and a half month tour of Arab countries, reportedly raising more than 50 (m) million dollars and building up political support for Hamas. Yassin made his second homecoming to Gaza in June 1998, just as Hamas was spurning an offer from Arafat to join the Palestinian government. The sheik's precise birthdate, like much else about him, was shrouded in mystery. His son, Abed, and Hamas spokesman Mahmoud Zahar said in June 1998 that he was 62, but were not able to say on what day he was born. His Palestinian passport, however, listed his date of birth as January 1, 1929. But Abed Yassin said that was based on a birth certificate which was probably inaccurate to begin with and had later been lost. Yassin himself claimed he was born in 1938.