What motivates a suicide bomber? Nasra Hassan interviews a young Muslim who survived his intended ‘martyrdom’ and describes the terrorists’ rigorous training. From the UK TimesOnline, with thanks to Cliff May.
…”How did you feel when you heard that you”d been selected for martyrdom?” I asked.
“It’s as if a very high, impenetrable wall separated you from Paradise or Hell,” he said. “Allah has promised one or the other to his creatures. So, by pressing the detonator, you can immediately open the door to Paradise “” it is the shortest path to Heaven.”
S was one of 11 children in a middle-class family that, in 1948, had been forced to flee from Majdal to a refugee camp in Gaza, during the Arab-Israeli war that started with the creation of the State of Israel. He joined Hamas in his early teens and became a street activist.
In 1989, he served two terms in Israeli prisons for intifada activity, including attacks on Israeli soldiers. One of his brothers is serving a life sentence in Israel.
I asked S to describe his preparations for the suicide mission. “We were in a constant state of worship,” he said. “We told each other that if the Israelis only knew how joyful we were they would whip us to death! Those were the happiest days of my life.”
“What is the attraction of martyrdom?” I asked.
“The power of the spirit pulls us upward, while the power of material things pulls us downward,” he said. “Someone bent on martyrdom becomes immune to the material pull. Our planner asked, “˜What if the operation fails?” We told him, “˜In any case, we get to meet the Prophet and his companions, inshallah.”
“We were floating, swimming, in the feeling that we were about to enter eternity. We had no doubts. We made an oath on the Koran, in the presence of Allah “” a pledge not to waver. This jihad pledge is called bayt al-ridwan, after the garden in Paradise that is reserved for the prophets and the martyrs. I know that there are other ways to do jihad. But this one is sweet “” the sweetest. All martyrdom operations, if done for Allah “s sake, hurt less than a gnat’s bite!”
S showed me a video that documented the final planning for the operation. In the grainy footage, I saw him and two other young men engaging in a ritualistic dialogue of questions and answers about the glory of martyrdom. S, who was holding a gun, identified himself as a member of al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, which is one of two Palestinian Islamist organisations that sponsor suicide bombings. (Islamic Jihad is the other group.) “Tomorrow, we will be martyrs,” he declared, looking straight at the camera. “Only the believers know what this means. I love martyrdom.”
The young men and the planner then knelt and placed their right hands on the Koran. The planner said: “Are you ready? Tomorrow, you will be in Paradise.”…