Family Members, Online Jihadis, Media Outlets Commemorate U.S. Citizen And His Father Killed Fighting Alongside Hamas

May 26, 2021

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In the last few days family members, media outlets, and online jihadis have commemorated U.S. citizen Osama Al-Zebda and his father, Jamal Al-Zebda, a graduate of U.S. universities. Both men were rocket engineers in the Hamas military arm, Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and were killed in Israeli airstrikes on May 12.

On May 23[1] and 24,[2] the Al-Qassam Brigades Telegram channel described the father as a "commander" and the son as a "field commander" and said that both were martyred during the "battle of the Sword of Al Quds [Jerusalem]."

According to media reports, Jamal Al-Zebda, who studied at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech, left the U.S. for the United Arab Emirates when his U.S.-born child Osama was five years old. In 1994, Al-Zebda moved to Gaza and in 2006, he joined the Al-Qassam Brigades and worked to advance its military capabilities.[3]

Osama Al-Zebda's wife, Yosra Aklouk, wrote on his Facebook account: "My husband, who is 33 years old, and if men's ages are measured by their actions, he would have been the one with the highest status and age. My husband, a U.S. citizen, when he knew that the shortest way to Allah is to sacrifice yourself, your mind, your time and wealth for him and for his religion, he dedicated himself to that." She then mentioned that the 10 hours he spent every day in "manufacturing workshops" had "granted him martyrdom in the hereafter."[4]

In an interview with Al-Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, Aklouk vowed to raise Osama's sons Ismael and Jamal to follow in their father's path: "I will raise them from a young age to take revenge for their father and their grandfather, whom they did not spend enough time with. With Allah's permission, I have vowed and promised Allah that I will say to the occupation, remember the names of my children. I will never allow them to be any less than their father and grandfather."[5]

Osama's sister Saja El Zebda also commemorated her father and brother in a Facebook post on May 12, writing: "You are the delight of my eyes and my source of support, the first man in Gaza, the genius, the distinguished and humble professor who has exhausted the enemies and who shook the ground beneath their feet and has defeated the undefeatable army. Those who have touched your hand and kissed your forehead are honored." To her brother, she wrote: "My darling, the light of my eyes, the affectionate, the source of support the great engineer Osama Jamal Al-Zebda. Praise due to Allah. I am the daughter of a martyr and the sister of a martyr."[6]

Osama's brother Abd Al-Aziz Al-Zebda praised his brother and father in a report published by Al-Quds Network: "You have elevated our heads and the head of the Islamic ummah. My father has always been concerned about the sacred places and Al-Aqsa." In a message to the Israeli army, he said: "The leader and scientist Dr. Jamal Al-Zebda and his son engineer Osama Al-Zebda have left behind men, leaders, and scientists who will be added to their scale of good deeds, and as much as their names have inflicted terror on you in their lives, with Allah's permission they will continue to inflict terror on you even after death."[7]

Commenting on Aklouk's Facebook post, pro-Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham Telegram user Abu Mujahed wrote: "No words would be enough to describe the men who washed with their blood the shame of the ummah and who sold their worldly life with the hereafter."

In an article titled "Jamal Al-Zebda: A Professor Who Took The Path Of Resistance Until Martyrdom," published on May 24, the Gaza-based Palestinian Information Center described the elder Al-Zebda as "a distinguished scholar in engineering for whom the world opened its doors, but he ignored it and chose the path of resistance and dedicated his knowledge to advancing Al-Qassam's rockets. He continued in that path for years until he was chosen as a martyr in an Israeli assassination crime."[8]

The pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar published an article on May 22 describing Jamal Al-Zebda as a "martyr" who has "shared his knowledge and departed." The writer, Rajab Al-Madhoon, praised Al-Zebda for "working secretly" to advance Hamas's military capabilities and recruiting hundreds of engineering graduates from Gaza's Islamic University to "work in the secret program for the resistance to advance its military tools, especially those related to rockets and drones."[9]

[1] May 23, 2021.

[2] May 24, 2021.

[3], May 24, 2021.

[4], May 19, 2021.

[5], May 22, 2021.

[6], May 12, 2021

[7] May 22, 2021.

[8], May 24, 2021.

[9] May 22, 2021.

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