Interview with a Palestinian homicide/suicide bomber

The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com) interviewed a Palestinian woman who was on her way to become a suicide bomber, but a the last moment changed her mind. The IDF (Israel's army) arrested her a couple of days ago, and she spoke with the press yesterday.

She had an explosive belt, packed with nails and other metal objects stitched into the lining, strapped around her body during a 45-minute training session in Nablus two days before the scheduled attack. Hamamreh was arrested at her aunt's home in Tulkarm on May 20, the day of the planned attack.

She said doubts had begun to gnaw at her mind, along with seeds of disillusionment regarding her handlers and their motives, during the 24 hours between the dry run and the intended bombing.

The instructions she received unleashed a series of doubts, primarily over the "righteousness" of the operation and whether her prime motivation, which was of a personal nature rather than a pure religious belief, would weigh against her when she confronted God after her death.

"I also began to imagine the people I would be killing, whether they would be women and children, families sitting down at a cafe. I became a bit disillusioned, because I had been told to blow myself up in any event," she said.

"This meant to me that what was important for them was to succeed in perpetrating an attack, whether there were casualties or not, and then they would be able to pat themselves on the back. I felt like they were playing a game with the blood of the martyrs."

I copy the full article below.





In the mind of a would-be suicide bomber
By DAVID RUDGE - May. 30, 2002
http://www.jpost.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/Full&cid=1022691055383

Looking at Thauriya Hamamreh, it is hard to accept that she had wanted to blow herself to pieces and murder and maim as many Israelis as possible in the process.

This petite, dark haired Palestinian had planned, however, to do just that for reasons that remain incomprehensible on any rational level, even after a nearly two-hour interview.

Hamamreh, a fervently religious Muslim with an engaging and almost impish smile, volunteered to be a suicide bomber and offered her services to someone with whom she was acquainted from the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

She had an explosive belt, packed with nails and other metal objects stitched into the lining, strapped around her body during a 45-minute training session in Nablus two days before the scheduled attack. Hamamreh was arrested at her aunt's home in Tulkarm on May 20, the day of the planned attack.

She said doubts had begun to gnaw at her mind, along with seeds of disillusionment regarding her handlers and their motives, during the 24 hours between the dry run and the intended bombing.

Hamamreh, 25, who looks much younger, spoke to reporters yesterday at the Kishon jail near Haifa, where she is being held in the security wing, about the steps that led to her volunteering to become a human bomb.

Constantly adjusting her head-scarf, she began relating her story, hesitantly at first, but with no signs of doubt or fear. Speaking through an interpreter, she explained that she is one of 10 brothers and sisters, most of whom still live with their parents in Kafr Jaba, a small village near Jenin.

Her 10 years of schooling were interrupted by the first intifada. "With everything that was going on, studying did not seem very important... Whenever anyone was killed, schools were closed for three days for funerals, and sometimes the teachers did not, or were unable, to come," she said.

After finishing school, she worked as a dressmaker and also did flower arrangements, and travelled very little, even in the West Bank. One of her few outings was as part of a group of young women studying Islam that visited Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque three weeks before her arrest and nearly three months after she had decided to become a martyr.

Hamamreh said her prime motivation was personal, and she declined to elaborate.

Another reason, she said, was the effect on her, along with all Palestinians, of the ongoing violence and what they see as their oppression at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces.

Underlying it all, however, were the teachings which preach the need for jihad to "create a just and equal, non-corrupt and non-criminal society by the spread and unification of Islam."

Her decision to volunteer as a suicide bomber was not motivated by family-clan revenge. She said no one in her family had been killed or wounded in the current conflict or previous cycles of violence.

Hamamreh approached someone she had known in the village who had moved out, like others on Israel's list of wanted terrorists. She declined to give the person's name or identify of any of the others with whom she was subsequently in contact.

"We met in Jenin and he at first refused my offer, because he knew me and we were from the same village. He told me to go home and reconsider," she said, noting that no members of her family had been involved in her decision or subsequent actions.

She remained adamant, however, and later met with more senior activists of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, whom she had approached originally because of the personal contact and not for ideological reasons.

It was not possible to prepare and launch the attack from Jenin at that time, due to the unavailability of explosives. The senior operatives arranged a place for her to stay in Jenin one of the first times she had been away from her family and later told her to travel to Nablus.

She travelled by taxi and was met by a man who took her to the dormitories of the university there. He told another woman student in the room that Hamamreh was "like his sister" and would be staying for a few days.

She stayed for the weekend and on Sunday, the day before the intended attack, she was taken to an undisclosed place where she was fitted with an explosive belt and taught how to detonate the device by pressing a button on the left side above her waist.

The training session apparently took longer than normal, because the device was too large and bulky for her small frame. "It was from my waist to my chest," she said.

It was decided the bomb would be placed in a backpack of the kind used by schoolchildren, and she was apparently given different instructions on how to detonate it. According to Hamamreh, it contained about 16 kilograms of explosives, which "of course were packed with nails and it was very heavy." She was taken to the location by two men and another two joined them later, all apparently members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

Hamamreh said the plan was for her to be transported from Nablus to Ramallah and from there to "west Jerusalem." She was told by her operatives to act normally and get among a crowd of people "as quickly as possible and not wait around until someone became suspicious." She was also told that if she felt she was an object of suspicion, she was to detonate the device even if there were only a few people in the vicinity, apparently to prevent her being caught and questioned.

She was also asked to dress like a modern Israeli woman, with her hair loose, make-up, sun glasses, and tight-fitting trousers. "I didn't want to do this because it was against my religious beliefs," she said.

The instructions she received unleashed a series of doubts, primarily over the "righteousness" of the operation and whether her prime motivation, which was of a personal nature rather than a pure religious belief, would weigh against her when she confronted God after her death.

"I also began to imagine the people I would be killing, whether they would be women and children, families sitting down at a cafe. I became a bit disillusioned, because I had been told to blow myself up in any event," she said.

"This meant to me that what was important for them was to succeed in perpetrating an attack, whether there were casualties or not, and then they would be able to pat themselves on the back. I felt like they were playing a game with the blood of the martyrs."

Instead of obeying instructions, she decided to visit the home of an aunt in Tulkarm, pretending that it was a normal visit even though she had basically run away from home.

Hamamreh said the explosive belt had been kept with her operators and she did not have it with her when IDF soldiers arrived at her aunt's home on Monday afternoon and demanded that all members of the family step outside with their arms raised.

"I didn't think they were after me to start with, but when they started asking questions and used names, I realized... They asked if I had a bag and if there would be any danger to the soldiers if they went inside," she said.

The bag was removed from the home and checked, but nothing was found inside. "One of the officers gave me water and I was arrested," she said, adding that no excessive force was used.

In fact, the humane way she has been treated by interrogators and the Prisons Service was instrumental in her decision to speak to the press.

Hamamreh said that the intifada and the wave of terror attacks and suicide bombings has not benefitted the Palestinian people in any way. "There are people, whole families, who don't have any money and there is such a lot of poverty. If there are warnings [of terror attacks] in Israel, every place is sealed off and people suffer because they can't receive medical attention, for instance. You are killing our people and we are killing yours," she said.

"Now I believe that it is the role of women to raise families, to have children, and that the real jihad for men and women is to believe wholeheartedly and follow the path of Islam," she said.

She stressed that she had no personal fear and that for her to be shot and killed was not something that frightened her. She only fears God.

When she was asked how she would react when she met members of her family, she suddenly broke down and started crying.

"I would ask their forgiveness for having gone away and for having caused them so much concern, because parents do not raise their children to seek death. I would hope they would forgive me as parents do, although I would prefer not to see them now because I wouldn't really know what to say."

Posted by David Melle
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