Khaled Mashal, also known as Khaled Mashaal, Khaled Meshaal, and Khalid Mish'al, (Arabic: خالد مشعل; born 1956) has been the main leader of Hamas—a Palestinian political, social, and terrorist organization—since the assassination of Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004. In addition, Mashal heads the Syrian branch of the political bureau of Hamas.
Mashal was born in Silwad, a village north of Ramallah and moved to Jordan in 1967. While attending Kuwait University, Mashal, as an Islamic student leader, challenged the dominance of Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization, participating in the foundation of the Islamic Haqq Bloc, which competed with Fatah for leadership of the General Union of Palestinian Students in Kuwait. After the founding of Hamas in 1987, Mashal came to lead the Kuwaiti branch of the organization. Mashal moved from Kuwait to Jordan in 1991. Since the expulsion of the Hamas leadership from Jordan in August 1999, Mashal lived in Qatar before moving to the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2001.
Khaled Mashal was born in the village of Silwad, north of Ramallah, then ruled by Jordan. Mashal attended Silwad Elementary School until the 1967 Six-Day War and the occupation of the West Bank by Israel. His father moved the family to Kuwait afterward for financial reasons. Mashal holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Kuwait University. Mashal joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1971.