March 22, 2004
Sheik Ahmed Yassin, a quadriplegic preacher, who founded the Islamic militant group Hamas in 1987 and presided over its rise to a violent, radical alternative to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, was killed instantly in Jerusalem on Monday, March 22, 2004, when an Israeli helicopter launched three missiles at him at daybreak as he left a mosque in his wheelchair after morning prayers. He was in his mid-60s. Yassin's Hamas was responsible for scores of suicide bombings and other deadly attacks on Israelis. Since the latest wave of violence began in September 2000, 474 people -- the majority of them Israelis -- had been killed in 112 Palestinian suicide bombings, most of them carried out by Hamas. Yassin was photographed here in May 2003 while following the funeral of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in Gaza.