Brigadier-General Tawfiq Tirawi was born in the West Bank town of al-Tira in 1949. He was elected to Fatah's Central Committee in 2009 and is also the president of the board of directors of Istiqlal University in Jericho, and chair of the committee investigating the death of Yasser Arafat. He is rumoured to maintain ties with Mohammad Dahlan (Mahmoud Abbas’s main Fatah rival). Tirawi reportedly maintains strong influence in Nablus’s Balata refugee camp.
After joining Fatah as a student leader in Beirut University, he became a member of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), and of the Fatah Regional Committee in Lebanon. He was previously a member of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB). From 1985 to 1990, Tirawi was imprisoned in Syria. Upon returning to the West Bank in 1994, he helped to establish the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) which he headed until 2008 when he was removed by Abbas.
During the Second Intifada, Israel included Tirawi on its terrorist list due to his involvement with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. He was removed from the list in 2007 as a goodwill gesture to Abbas.