"This time, I hope I will be able to do it..."

Farewell note of suicide bomber Mohammed al-Ghoul

The Student

al-Ghoul was a typical Palestinian Muslim and unspectacular in many ways. He worked hard, was just beginning a master's program in Islamic studies at An Najah University in Nablus (a city approximately 30 miles north of Jerusalem), and lived in clean surroundings with his family. Days before his death he visited an elder aunt of his and brought several sweets and presents to his sisters, all what was in hindsight seen as a farewell gesture.

The Extremist

Unbeknown to most of his family and all but few of his friends, al-Ghoul was a member of Izzedine al Qassam. Izzedine al Qassam is the military wing of Hamas, an Islamic extremist group. al-Ghoul had never participated in any terrorist action, although asked twice before, but does fit the profile. Just as the Western world uses racial profiling to compose leads in criminal cases, authorities on the West Bank use religious profiling. al-Ghoul was a single, devout Muslim in his early 20s who was a member of an extremist group. This, according to Israeli authorities, is a red flag profile for a bomber.

The Terrorist

On Tuesday June 18, 2002 Mohammed al-Ghoul stepped aboard a Jerusalem bus with a nail-studded bomb strapped to his chest. The 19 dead passengers and 55 wounded made the bombing the deadliest in Jerusalem in over half a decade. The bus was full of high school students and office workers; several students were killed in the blast. It was also the 70th bombing in the past two years of heightened fighting between the Israelis and Palestines.1

The Poet

"How beautiful it is to make my bomb shrapnel kill the enemy.
How beautiful it is to kill and to be killed--
not to love death, but to struggle for life,
to kill and to be killed for the lives of the coming generation.2

Excerpt from the suicide note left by al-Ghoul

The Consequences

The immediate consequences of al-Ghoul's actions were apparent just one day after the bombing. Already Israel has planned to seize and reoccupy Palestinian lands until all terrorist actions against their lands come to a halt. Already tanks have rolled into Palestinian neighborhoods as sentinels sent to watch over the people and discourage yet another unavoidable flare up of violence. Already there are fears that the most recent efforts by America and the United Nations will be for naught. These are the consequences of the now.

Greater still will be the consequences of the future.

It is said that "Muslims are supposed to defend their families and their faith to the death. This is called loyalty."3 If this is true, then why would al-Ghoul bring such perdition as will likely come to his family as well as the "coming generation" of Palestine children as a result of his bombing just as a chance for peace could almost be attained. Instead the bombing serves as an excuse for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to step up his defense towards the Palestines and militarily occupy their lands.

1Bombing statistics cited from the Associated Press article by Susan Sevareid.
2Personal information about al-Ghoul and excerpts from his suicide note cited from Associate Press article by Mohammed Daraghmeh.
Additional information on the Muslim religion cited to Jaez's writeup on the same topic.

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