International

Glorification

From an article on suicide bombing in Sunday’s Washington Post:

The boys all know the way to Ahmed Abu Khalil’s house, tucked along an alley in a neighborhood of the West Bank town of Atil known as Two Martyrs. Abu Khalil, 18, became its third after he blew himself up Tuesday near a shopping mall in the Israeli city of Netanya.

It is safe to say Abu Khalil knew how he would be remembered here for his twilight attack outside the HaSharon Mall, which killed five Israelis, including two 16-year-old girls who were lifelong best friends. Scores more were injured in Israel’s third suicide bombing this year.

The neighborhood is named for two local members of Islamic Jihad, the radical Palestinian group, who died fighting in the West Bank city of Jenin in 2003. The stylized posters of young men, posing with assault rifles and draped with ammunition belts, wallpaper the city. Graffiti urges uprising.

“This has given us a lot of pride, what he has done in Netanya,” said Ibrahim Shoukri, 14, who used to follow Abu Khalil to prayer at the mosque. “We hope all of us will be like him.”

The cult of glorification — a mix of nationalist, personal and religious fervor — that surrounds suicide bombers has long been one of the most difficult challenges facing Israeli security officials. Religious justification taught in the more radical West Bank mosques and intense familial pride — at least in the days immediately after the attacks — often outweigh the Israeli deterrent measures designed to make would-be suicide bombers think twice.
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One recent morning, Palestinian television crews filled the family courtyard. As more than a dozen teenage boys looked on, the reporters posed 14-year-old Mahmoud and 4-year-old Othman with their brother’s picture, seeking their impressions. They put a black Islamic Jihad cap on Mahmoud’s head.

“Put the picture here on your chest,” the leader of a crew instructed Othman, the videotape rolling. “What did he tell you, what did he tell you?”

The boys looked nervous, confused. Finally, Mahmoud said, “He told me to pray.”

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