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 (Security Academy) in Jericho. He previously headed the General Intelligence Service (GIS) between August 2007-November 2008; and was reportedly a member of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB).
Tirawi was a close confidant of Yasser Arafat and was with him during the siege of his headquarters in Ramallah between 2002 and 2004. Today, he is rumoured to maintain ties with Mohammad Dahlan (Mahmoud Abbas’s main Fatah rival) and reportedly maintains strong influence in Nablus’s Balata refugee camp and Jericho.
He joined Fatah in 1967 while a student leader at Beirut University where he headed the Lebanese branch of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS). He subsequently became a member of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) in 1978. 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). He was the head of the GIS in the West Bank until August 2007 when he became the service’s overall head (replacing Amin al-Hindi). In October 2008 he was removed from his position by Abbas.
During the Second Intifada, Israel included Tirawi on its terrorist list due to his alleged involvement in organising attacks against Israeli targets and links to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Fatah's Tanzim. He was removed from the list in 2007 as a goodwill gesture to Abbas.
In January 2020, PA security forces reportedly arrested a group of Fatah activists with links to Tirawi who had been plotting to attack Majed Faraj.