Speaking to several thousand supporters in Gaza on March 27, 2004, Rantisi said: “America declared war against God. [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon declared war against God, and God declared war against America, Bush and Sharon. The war of God continues against them and I can see the victory coming up from the land of Palestine by the hand of Hamas.” Added Rantisi, President George W. Bush “is the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam, an enemy of Muslims.”
On March 22, 2004, upon the assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin, Rantisi was named as his replacement. Less than a month later, on April 17, 2004, Rantisi himself was gunned down by an Israeli army helicopter. This was precisely the manner of death he had desired for himself: He had once been asked how he wished to die, to which he responded, “It’s death whether by killing or by cancer; it’s the same thing. Nothing will change if it’s an Apache [helicopter] or cardiac arrest. But I prefer to be killed by [an] Apache.”
Following Rantisi’s death, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat declared three days of mourning in all Palestinian towns and villages. He also instructed schools to devote the first half-hour of lessons to reading from the Koran in remembrance of Rantisi.
In an obituary that appeared in the April 19, 2004 edition of the United Kingdom newspaperThe Guardian, journalist Derek Brown, who had met with Rantisi on occasion, wrote that the late Hamas leader had “said he condoned the murder of Israeli children, if that would secure the future of young Palestinians.”
In the 2007 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) trial, which looked into evidence of HLF’s fundraising on behalf of Hamas, the U.S. government released a list of approximately 300 of HLF’s “unindicted co-conspirators” and “joint venturers.” Rantisi’s name was on that list, as were the names Omar Ahmad, Abdurahman Alamoudi, Yousef al-Qaradawi, Abdallah Azzam, Jamal Badawi, Mohammad Jaghlit, Mousa Abu Marzook, andAhmed Yassin. The list also included groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Hamas, INFOCOM, the Islamic Association for Palestine, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Arab Youth Association, the United Association for Studies and Research, and the North American Islamic Trust.
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