What compels a young Palestinian man to strap an explosive belt on his body and blow himself up among men, women and children with the goal of killing as many Jews as possible?
Does a potential suicide bomber truly believe his murderous act will gain him entry to paradise? Is he brainwashed? Can he defend his views if they are challenged? How would he respond to a meeting with an Orthodox Jew?
I was recently granted access through the Islamic Jihad terror group to a 23-year-old Palestinian man who has volunteered to become a suicide bomber and who the terror organization says has “great potential” to carry out one of the next attempted suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.
According to Islamic Jihad leaders, the potential bomber I interviewed is one of more than hundreds of young Palestinians in the northern West Bank who passed necessary recruitment stages and is available to attempt to infiltrate Jewish population centers wearing an explosive belt with the goal of blowing up as many Israelis as possible.
The interview took place in a remote building in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, an Islamic Jihad stronghold from which the majority of recent Palestinian suicide bombers have originated.
Islamic Jihad leaders allowed me to interview the potential suicide bomber in a room together with his recruiter, who is a senior member of the terror group.
Both the recruiter and potential bomber were aware I am Jewish.
The recruiter several times ordered the wannabe bomber to refrain from answering certain questions during the interview, which was conducted using an English-Arabic translator.
The potential bomber’s face was not covered during the interview, but he was told by the Islamic Jihad recruiter not to provide his name or extensive biographical information.
Klein: Tell me about your life and what you do with your free time.
Bomber: I study at a West Bank university and have great hopes of getting married within the next couple of months. My life is very normal. I watch television, particularly news, and historical and religious programs. From time to time I play soccer and lift weights.
Is your family poor?
No. We are regular but far from being wealthy. I share my bedroom with my brothers but now there is less pressure because last summer one of my brothers was married and moved to live outside.
Why do you want to be a suicide bomber?
I originally decided to become a martyr after I saw what the Israeli army did in the refugee camp of Jenin in the big military campaign of April 2002. But this idea became stronger when I understood what status I will have in heaven if I sacrifice myself for Allah. Every time somebody else dies as a martyr in a suicide bomb attack, I pray for him but I feel jealous. I want to be where he is now and I pray that Allah will one day offer me this occasion and this honor.
(Editor’s note: The potential bomber was referring to an Israeli anti-terror raid in Jenin that led Palestinian leaders to accuse Israel of massacring hundreds of civilians including many women and children. It was later determined that 56 Palestinians, mostly gunmen, were killed in the raid, which followed a series of deadly suicide attacks inside Israel that were reportedly planned and directed from the terror infrastructure in Jenin. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers died in the Jenin battle as IDF troops conducted house-to-house searches to minimize civilian casualties.)
Is your main motivation for becoming a bomber to serve Allah?
Yes, of course. Allah gave Muslims the possibility to gain their prize and payment in different ways. There are those [Muslims] who pray and fast only and respect Allah’s commandments, and there are those who wish a higher prize. And the highest prize is given to those who [give] themselves, their lives, their bodies and everything in this world.
Many academics and journalists claim Palestinians become suicide bombers because they are poor and desperate and because of the so-called Israeli occupation. Are you telling me these are not the reasons you want to blow yourself up amongst Israelis?
The will to [give] myself for Allah is the first and most major reason. It is true that the Zionists are occupying our lands and that it is our religious duty to fight them, including through suicide attacks. The goal is not the killing of the Jews, but that this is the way to reach Allah. I pray that Allah gives me the honor to be dead in an operation. This is the supreme and the noblest way to ascend to Allah. These martyrs have special status in the next world and have bigger chances to watch Allah’s face and enjoy the magnificent pleasures he offers us.
You say your goal is not to kill Jews, but isn’t that exactly what you will do as a suicide bomber?
Maybe the fact that I was born here has sharpened my religious conscience, but I believe that even if I were in Chechnya, in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else I would want to be a martyr. It is Allah’s satisfaction that is important to me no matter where I live. But as we live in this part of the world, the way to reach Allah for me is through fighting the Zionist enemy. It is the jihad, the sacrificing that is important.
These cliches are impressive, but I know you are aware you are speaking to a Jew. Perhaps you are telling me what I want to hear. Tell me the truth. You want to kill Jews, don’t you?
We were never taught to hate Jews but to hate the occupation of the Zionists of our Islamic land that the Zionist entity with the conspiracy of the world has stolen and occupied. Jews can have their state but not on our lands and until this goal is achieved every Muslim must fight this entity. The Jews stole this holy Islamic land and we must fight them, but I am looking to receive what waits for me in the next world.
You talk about fighting them, the Jews. I’m an American Jew. Do you want to kill me?
You are here [in Jenin] and nobody hurts you and nobody thinks to do so. But if, unfortunately for you, if you will be in a place where my [suicide] operation will take place, I will not feel sorrow. You American Jews are fully partners with the Zionists and even more dangerous than the Israelis because of the international support you give to the Israelis in their massacres against our people and the maintenance of the occupation.
So if, after today’s meeting, you saw me in a cafe in Jerusalem that you were sent to attack, you’d still try to blow it up?
At the moment there will not be a place for feelings and hesitations. If I go on an operation it means that I decided to leave behind my loved ones – my mother, my father, brothers and sisters, all my family and my friends. And if I am capable of this I would not give you a break just because we met for one time. Meanwhile, and before I drive you to hell in an operation, enjoy your tea and our hospitality. (Laughing).
Many programs on Palestinian television have been teaching viewers Jews are descended from pigs and monkeys and that we use Palestinian and Christian blood to bake our Passover matzos. Is this what you believe?
I know where this question comes from. You think that we all are naive or bad from birth or that we were exposed to brainwashing. We just follow what we are demanded in the Koran to do because if we do not do so we will be attacked, occupied, controlled and killed by these enemies of Islam.
You didn’t answer my question. Do you believe I come from pigs and monkeys?
The Koran tells us that Allah was upset with the Jews because of their negative behavior toward Moses and Allah’s commandments and Allah shouted to the Jews, “Be pigs and monkeys.” I don’t know if physically Allah turned them to pigs and monkeys, or it was a way to tell them that they are as terrible as pigs and monkeys. The most important thing is that this is what Allah, may he be blessed, thinks that the Jews deserve to be.
I don’t know about the Passover matzo but I know the Jews are the nation who was known for killing Allah’s prophets and the nation that in our days wants to control the world or at least this part of the world, from the Nile to the Euphrates. Meanwhile they [Jews] are controlling the U.S., its media, its financial system and its administration.
When you mentioned before the pleasures that await you after a suicide bombing, I assume you were referring to the 72 dark-eyed virgins you believe will be waiting for you in heaven?
(Potential bomber nods to signal yes.)
You talk about so-called martyrdom being divine. About being rewarded in the next world on supreme spiritual levels for what you say is a gift to Allah. And yet you tell me that what awaits you after a suicide operation is an eternity of pleasure with virgins. This is the most base physical pleasure imaginable. This is your religious version of heaven?
Let me explain something to you. The world, the lower one we are in now, it is temporary. Allah examines the loyalty of human beings, asking you in this materialistic world to avoid all that is tempting, all that pleasures you on earth, and to dedicate yourself to Allah. This doesn’t mean that Allah does not think it is good to take part in these needs of sex, in the pleasure of drinking alcohol, enjoying nature and other stuff. The point is that non-Muslims do those things in this world while ignoring Allah and all moral rules, while Muslims are asked to do a tremendous spiritual effort on earth in order to gain these other (physical) pleasures in the next world.
Let’s say your concept of heaven is accurate. You are indeed rewarded with 72 dark-eyed virgins for living the kind of life you describe. Do you really think you will go to heaven for killing innocent civilians during a suicide operation?
You are treating in a ridiculous way this issue, but this is in the Koran. Go and, Allah forbid, ask Allah about this point. We are promised in the Koran to have the dark-eyed virgins and that’s it. The Koran is full of verses glorifying the shahid, the martyr.
Show me exactly where in the Koran it states you will get 72 dark-eyed virgins for blowing yourself up amongst civilians.
You and I, we do not discuss Allah and the Koran. I will tell you more the moment that I will explode myself when there will be one dark-eyed virgin who will carry up my soul to the sky. This is the important part of our mission – fulfilling Allah’s commandments and hoping to receive the prizes we were promised in the Koran.
What do you think about the Unites States?
I have no interest in the American culture which is an empty culture with no values. It is full of immorality and elements that are forbidden by Allah, like free sex and violence. In my opinion, America is the big enemy leading the war against Islam, Muslims, Palestinians and against anything that threatens the Zionist enemy.
In the last suicide bombing, which took place in Tel Aviv earlier this year, an American teenager named Daniel Wultz was severely injured and later died of his wounds. In general, are Americans included among those you target?
America is destroying and exploiting the Arabic and the Islamic world as part of a Zionist and Crusader plan. The American Jews, we say, are the godfathers of this Zionist entity in America. Therefore this Daniel, I am sure, participated in the army activity. If not, he collected money for this Zionist entity. If not, he would decide one day to come to live here as a settler. Therefore there is no way that he can be defined as innocent.
Do you think your family will miss you if you became a suicide bomber or would blowing yourself up among Israeli men, women and children make them proud?
My family, I think especially my mother, they have the feeling that one day they will hear that I carried out an operation. I do not think that they will be sad that I killed myself in an operation. It is the will to satisfy Allah.
I do not think my family will be surprised if I do it, but I never told them anything because there may be some pressure and all our ideology is based on avoiding pressures and temptations connecting us to this lower world. It is the other world that I am seeking to join with all the love I have to my mother and my family. Now they love me and I hope in the future they will still love me but also be proud of me.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.comand a regular contributor to The Jewish Press. His Quick Takes column appears weekly on page 2 of the paper. He appears throughout the week on America’s top radio programs.