Excerpts from an interview with Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, printed in Al-Quds, July 26, 1998.
Question: Was the fact that the King of Saudi Arabia received you during your tour of the Arab states a message to the United States?
Yassin: It was an expression of appreciation on the part of Saudi Arabia for [our] activities for the sake of Palestine and to tell the world -- especially the U.S. and Israel -- that Saudi Arabia supports the path of jihad. Saudi Arabia has demonstrated strength and courage because it declared its position loud and clear, telling the U.S. that it supports the path of struggle to restore the plundered land. In other words, the welcome I received was a clear message to the U.S. and a provocation against its policy…
All Arab peoples and leaders support the Palestinian people, and the entire trip was a provocation against the American policy in the Middle East.
Question: Has your position toward Iran changed as the result of your visit to Tehran?
Yassin: Yes, my position changed. I did not know that the Iranians were so interested in the Palestinian cause. I found in them a deep willingness to liberate Palestine – a will to endure for the Palestinian cause all the hardships created by the U.S. policy.
Question: But the position of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine [meaning the Hamas movement] used to be anti-Iranian. Has it changed?
Yassin: From the moment that the Islamic revolution broke out in Iran, we supported it. But there were those who wanted to present the situation as if the Iranians were the jihad warriors while we evaded [our duty].
Question: Have you been promised financial assistance from governments or individuals?
Yassin: We were promised financial assistance from both governments and individuals to support the Palestinian people. They promised to support humanitarian and educational institutions of the Palestinian people, as well as Palestinian prisoners and the families of martyrs… The promise still stands and we are waiting for it to be realized.
Question: Do you expect Israel to attempt to assassinate you?
Yassin: I will be very happy if that happens. I wish they had done it already -- if they have the talent for it. The day in which I will die as a shahid [martyr] will be the happiest day of my life.