Who Is Mohammed al-Zouari, the Tunisian Engineer behind Hamas’ Attack Drones?

Tunisian engineer Mohammed al-Zouari. (Photo: via AJA)

By Robert Inlakesh

The mention of Mohammed Zouari, by Hamas officials following the launch of Operation ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ has drawn further intrigue into his story.

Mohammed al-Zouari is credited with granting the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the technological know-how to create their first viable attack drones. 

His name is now emerging once again, due to the Palestinian Resistance having announced the usage of a drone named ‘Zouari’ as part of their offensive against Israel.


Mohammed al-Zouari’s role in aiding Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, was not known publicly until his assassination in 2016. 

Although the team of armed men that killed al-Zouari was never caught, his death is widely attributed to the work of the Israeli Mossad, who is accused of assassinating him on Tunisian soil. 

Following his death, al-Zouari was transformed into an iconic figure throughout occupied Palestine and the Arab world, yet his story is little known in the West.

A Tunisian by birth, Mohammed al-Zouari was born in 1967 and grew up in a conservative Muslim household, completing a religious and formal education, before graduating from the ‘National School of Engineers’ in the city of Sfax. 

Working in a number of Arab countries, al-Zouari achieved the status of a university professor, was the technical director at a mechanical engineering company, a pilot for Tunisian airlines, and even the head of the ‘Southern Aviation Model Club’ where he trained students on how to make drones with limited materials.

In his youth, al-Zouari joined the Ennahda Movement, through his role as an activist in the ‘Tunisian General Union of Students,’ resulting in persecution from the regime of then President Zin El Abidine Ben Ali. 


Mohammed al-Zouari was imprisoned and when released, allegedly lived between Sudan, Syria and Libya for around 20 years, before returning to his homeland after the Tunisian revolution of 2011 that deposed Ben Ali.

In an interview conducted with al-Zouari’s widow, who is a Syrian national, she revealed that her husband adopted the name ‘Murad’ and did not inform her of his real identity until roughly a year and a half into their marriage. 

It was in Syria, allegedly sometime in 2006, that he officially joined the Qassam Brigades of Hamas and began working on drone projects for them.

Qassam Brigades

By the year 2008, al-Zouari and a specialized team working alongside him, managed to manufacture around 30 drones successfully. 

Then, between 2012 and 2013, he spent some 9 months inside the Gaza Strip, during which he successfully manufactured the ‘Ababil’ drone. This drone was used during the 2014 war that was fought between Israel and Hamas, proving successful at carrying out operations in attempts to repel Israel’s invading forces. 

Prior to his assassination in 2016, while he was in Tunisia, al-Zouari was also working on a unmanned submarine project.

Al-Aqsa Flood

Hamas revealed that 35 suicide-drones bearing the name ‘Zouari’ were used by the Qassam Brigades on October 7, paving the way for their fighters to penetrate crucial military positions belonging to the Israeli military. 

The mention of Mohammed Zouari, by Hamas officials following the launch of operation ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ has drawn further intrigue into his story, which even came as a shock to many Palestinians following the announcement of his martyrdom in 2016 by the Qassam Brigades. 

His identity was completely hidden until his assassination and the obituary released by the Hamas military wing, in the advent of al-Zouari’s passing, was the first of a foreign national known to be involved in such an intimate way in the ranks of the armed wing.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. He focuses on the Middle East, specializing in Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

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