On Thursday, 15 January 2009, the Israeli Air Force carried out a strike against the home of Hamas Interior Minister Said Siam, killing him and two of his most senior aides. Said Siam was one of most senior Hamas leaders, responsible for much of that organization’s terrorist character.
Said Siam was born in the Shati Refugee camp in Gaza in 1959. After earning a B.A. at al-Quds Open University, he taught in an UNRWA school in Gaza, but had to leave because of conflicts with his UN employer over his extremist political views. During that time, he was active in the Hamas terrorist organization, for which he was placed under detention four times by Israel between 1989 and 1992 and twice thereafter by the Palestinian Authority. He was, together with other senior Hamas leaders, temporarily removed by Israel to Lebanon in 1992 in response to the kidnapping and murder of Israeli border guard Nissim Toledano.
In 2003 Siam became a full-time member of the Hamas leadership, moving up to the no. 3 position in the hierarchy of the terrorist organization, behind Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahar, and was considered by many to be the most extreme of all of them. In March 2006 he was appointed Interior Minister of Hamas in Gaza. He created the “Executive Force,” a Hamas militia whose gunmen reported directly to him. He was sharply criticized for this domestically and abroad, and for appointing Jamal Abu Samhadana, head of the Popular Resistance Committees and number two on Israel’s list of wanted terrorists, as director general of the police forces in the Interior Ministry. Human rights groups in Gaza accused Siam’s Interior Ministry of using torture and illegal detention to suppress rivals.
In 2006, he visited Iran, meeting with the Iranian Interior Minister and the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to learn their police methods and to obtain Iranian funding for his Executive Force.
He was one of the moving forces behind Hamas’ violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Following this, he once again took over the internal security apparatus, violently suppressing all opposition from political rivals. In addition, he oversaw the operations of the Hamas armed wing, including its naval force.