American killed fighting alongside Hamas during recent war – report
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American killed fighting alongside Hamas during recent war – report

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An American citizen was reported killed fighting for Hamas in the recent conflict with Israel. Joe Truzman, a contributor to Foundation for Defense of Democracies Long War Journal (FDD), wrote on Saturday that “an American citizen known as Osama al-Zebda was fighting with the Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades during the recent conflict. The report notes that  al-Zebda was on a US terrorist watch list. His son was featured in videos with Hamas commander Yahya Sinwar on Monday, in which the Hamas commander puts a rifle in the toddler’s hand. His death and the death of his father, a well known Hamas engineer, has been featured on Palestinian media.  He was allegedly killed by an Israeli air strike on May 12, according to the article.

“This fits a pattern of Americans who joined Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), which is illegal pursuant to US law.” Over the last decades numerous American have joined terrorist groups and some have been killed in fighting abroad. Most infamously Adam Gadahn was killed in a US drone strike while working with Al Qaeda.Truzman is a long-time expert on militant and terrorist groups, specifically covering Gaza. He notes that “Osama al-Zebda appears to have been the target of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military campaign against leaders and commanders of militant factions in Gaza. Multiple commanders and mid-level Hamas militants were reportedly killed during the 10-day operation.”

The FDD article by Truzman notes that it is unclear if Osama was born in the US or was a naturalized citizen. He was killed by an Israeli air strike on May 12. Jamal al-Zebda, the man’s father, was also killed. Nasser Atta, a journalist and expert notes that “professor Jamal Al Zebda, 64-years-old, was the head of the Rockets development department within Hamas…he graduated from US universities and his eldest son Osama, 33 years old is a US citizen who was an engineer at the rockets department, both were killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza 10 days ago.

” Truzman notes that Jamal was described by the IDF’s Hebrew-language site as a “senior member of Hamas’ research and development division.” Al-Monitor also noted his name on May 13 as one of the “commanders, who had made up the core of Hamas’ military project, include brigade commander for Gaza City Bassem Issa, Jomaa Tahla, Jamal al-Zebda, Kazem al-Khatib, Walid Shmali and Sami Radwan.” He had a PhD in mechanical engineering, specializing in aerodynamics.

This would be key to his work in rocketry. “A paper written by Jamal al-Zebda on aerodynamics at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1989 appears on the Aerospace Research Center’s website, suggesting Osama’s father was possibly in the United States either studying or working there. However, FDD’s Long War Journal could not independently verify if it was written by the same person,” the FDD report notes.

Truzman’s report asserts that social media circulated images of Osama al-Zebda and his father and called them martyrs. “A social media post from May 19, posted by someone claiming to be the wife of Osama, claimed he was an American.” Furthermore, “in an interview on a Palestinian media network, family members described Osama as a ‘military man outside the house,’ and that both father and son were engineers.” On Monday, images circulated on Palestinian social media showed Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar holding the son of Osama al-Zebda.

The young boy’s image has now been circulated widely.  The wife of Osama also spoke to Palestinian media. She was quoted as saying that “I tell the occupation to keep the names of my children well, and I will not allow them to be less than their grandfather and their father…My father is one of the engineers of the al-Qassam Brigades and their grandfather, the world-famous martyr, Jamal al-Zibdeh, is one of the most important leaders and engineers in the battalions.”

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