Among the recently released prisoners was Ahlam Tamimi. She is the terrorist who chose the place and led a suicide bomber to the Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem in August 2001, who murdered 15 people in his attack, 7 of them children.
Tamimi has repeatedly stated that she does not regret her involvement in the terror attack. Since her release, Tamimi has appeared in several interviews, in which she has repeated this. A Jordanian website broadcast an interview with her in which, when she was asked if she would participate in or carry out another terror attack, she responded:
"Of course. I don't regret what happened, absolutely not. That is the path; I give myself for the sake of Allah, to Jihad for Allah. I carried out [my mission] and Allah made me successful: You know the number of victims who were killed. All that was thanks to the success from Allah. Do you expect me to abandon what I did, saying [I regret it]? Regret is something that is out of the question. If time could go backwards, I would carry out what I did, in the same manner."
Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV also did a lengthy interview with Tamimi in which she described the suicide bomber admiringly:
"It's important to say that I was walking with a spiritual person. Next to him, I sensed a sort of divine aura surrounding us."
Hamas' TV also interviewed the parents of the Sbarro suicide bomber. They both expressed their pride and appreciation of Tamimi and how she helped their son become a Martyr:
"We are proud of Ahlam Tamimi even before our son, by Allah. She fulfilled her obligation and made me proud. We thank Allah and Ahlam Tamimi, who brought him [my son] to this high level."
Prior to the prisoners' release, the PA official daily printed a long article describing Tamimi's life as a journalist and her becoming a "fighter" in Hamas' military wing Izz A-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. Among other things, the article described how Tamimi,
"the dreamy student and conscientious journalist turned into a different sort of woman - she began a race against time to participate in carrying out operations (i.e., terror attacks) in West Jerusalem."
In a response to Israeli TV's rebroadcast of an interview with Tamimi in which she said that she did not regret planning the bombing even though children were killed and that she had chosen the Sbarro pizza shop as a target because it had a large number of customers, PA TV accused Israeli TV of "inciting against the prisoners."
Alham Tamimi upon her recent release in the Gilad Shalit exchange.
The following is the text from the video interview on the Jordanian website ammonnews with Ahlam Tamimi from her parents' home in Jordan following her release:
Interviewer: How did you take the sentence? [15 life sentences]
Tamimi: I'm a Jihad fighter for Allah and a Jihad fighter for Allah is ready for any outcome: either he will die as a Shahid (Martyr), or he will be assassinated, or he will be taken captive; [or] Allah can decree some unknown fate for him - [for instance,] that he will live as a wanted [fugitive]. Interviewer: If you could set the clock back, Ahlam, would you carry out, or take part in, a major operation (i.e., terror attack)? Tamimi: Of course. I don't regret what happened, absolutely not. That is the path; I give myself for the sake of Allah, to Jihad for Allah. I carried out [my mission] and Allah made me successful: You know the number of victims who were killed. All that was thanks to the success from Allah. Do you expect me to abandon what I did, saying [I regret it]? Regret is something that is out of the question. If time could go backwards, I would carry out what I did, in the same manner. Interviewer: How would you describe the Israelis? Tamimi: The Israelis are a nation upon which it was decreed that it would be dispersed over the earth. Allah decreed this upon them, but international conspiracies, the Balfour Declaration, gave them the right to something to which they have no right.
Excerpt of interview with Ahlam Tamimi on Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas):
Tamimi: You make a big deal about the Sbarro restaurant (bombing) in which 15 Israelis were killed, but my first operation (i.e., terror attack) was at the King George supermarket (in central Jerusalem). I chose the Sbarro restaurant, but I didn't go in with him (i.e., the terrorist). A few days beforehand, I counted the number of people entering the restaurant, a large number of people would enter this restaurant. Host: What did you talk about with the Martyrdom-seeker on the way (to the suicide attack)?
Tamimi: It's impossible to describe him with words. We met only on the day of the operation. The [Hamas] brothers changed his entire appearance. He wasn't bearded. He wore jeans and a hat. It's important to say that I was walking with a spiritual person. Next to him, I sensed a sort of divine aura surrounding us. We looked into each other's eyes. I said to him, "There is no God but Allah," and he said, "and Muhammad is Allah's messenger," and he smiled. Host: We interviewed the parents of the heroic Martyrdom-seeker (i.e., the suicide bomber), Izz A-Din Al-Masri, who blew himself up in the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. Father of suicide bomber: We are proud of Ahlam Tamimi even before our son, by Allah. She fulfilled her obligation and made me proud. We thank Allah and Ahlam Tamimi, who brought him [my son] to this high level. Mother of suicide bomber: My son chose his path and his fate, and we do not regret that. Praise Allah, that is an honor for him. What [higher] level could he have asked for? That is the best level in the eyes of his Lord. Tamimi: I always had an inner conflict whether they were happy with me or not. Host: How did you conduct yourself [in the interrogation]? Tamimi: By Allah, you won't believe it, but I was always smiling. I don't know why my smile always angered them. Host: The judge who sentenced you ordered that you should not be included in any exchange deal. Tamimi: I say to him - you will die in your anger. I was released, and you remain in your defeat. I hope that you will be defeated, and may Allah add more defeat to you.
[Al-Aqsa (Hamas) TV, Oct. 24, 2011]
The following is the official PA daily's article on terrorist Ahlam Tamimi the day before her release:
Headline: "Ahlam Tamimi will not wait 1584 years to be released...!"
"No one at Bir Zeit University would have believed that Ahlam Tamimi could be a member of a radical, top secret military organization such as the Shahid (Martyr) Izz A-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas movement's military wing. Likewise, no one knows what caused Ahlam, a spirited young woman... studying journalism at the university in order to realize her aspirations, to become a fighter, even if she herself has said that it was the occupation which drove the Palestinians to resist it in every way... Ahlam was born on Oct. 20, 1980, in the city of Zarka, in Jordan, to a Palestinian family... She returned to Palestine in order to study journalism and communications at Bir Zeit University. She had only one semester left [to complete] when the Al-Aqsa Intifada (i.e., the Palestinian terror campaign, 2000-2005) broke out, with unprecedented violence in the Palestinian territories, as evidenced in the terrible murder policy of the Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon government. Ahlam tried to 'fight' the occupation in her way, focusing on a program which she presented on local television broadcast in Ramallah, which covered the occupation's actions. In her journalistic work, Ahlam encountered the harsh reality and the tragic stories brought about by the occupation, and decided to take another big step. At the same time, her friend from the faculty of journalism and communications, Wael Daghlas of the Al-Qassam Brigades, thought that she was suited to join the Brigades... The dreamy student and conscientious journalist turned into a different sort of woman - she began a race against time to participate in carrying out operations (i.e., terror attacks) in West Jerusalem.
The article goes on to describe her role in the Sbarro attack, and then her arrest and trial:
After a period of training, she carried out her first activity on July 27, 2001, when she carried out surveillance on the streets of western Jerusalem without attracting attention, aided by her modern clothing and pleasant appearance. Her mission was to choose places to carry out bombing operations planned by Abdallah Barghouti, as revenge for every [Israeli] assassination operation. Her most prominent operation was her assistance in carrying out the bombing attack which shocked western Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001 (i.e., the Sbarro restaurant attack), whose ramifications affected regional and world leaders. Ahlam patrolled Jerusalem in her car and set the route which the one who would carry out [the operation], Izz A-Din Al-Masri, would take from Ramallah to Jerusalem. The next day she took the guitar which Abdallah Barghouti had booby-trapped, and joined Izz A-Din Al-Masri. She asked him to carry the guitar over his shoulder. These were moments laden with emotion between them, as she pointed out the place to him and left him to take his final walk while she returned to Ramallah. When she was arrested afterwards, she was tortured and the Israeli court gave her 16 life sentences, meaning 1584 years... Ahlam dealt with the trial with a smile and her words to the judges: 'I don't recognize the legitimacy of this court; I do not wish to present my name or age to you... I present myself to you through my actions, with which you are very familiar... My name is Ahlam, and I shall remain thus until I attain the dream of my Palestinian people to rid this land of you.' She became engaged in prison to another prisoner, her cousin Nizar, who belongs to Fatah; his father is Dr. Samir Shehadeh, a member of the Fatah leadership."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 16, 2011]
PA TV accused Israeli TV of "incitement" for airing old interview with Tamimi:
PA TV News reader: Israeli TV Channel 1, during the first part of the prisoners' exchange, deliberately rebroadcast an interview held in the past in prison with the [now] released female prisoner Ahlam Tamimi to incite against the prisoners.
PA TV shows Israeli Channel 1 TV re-broadcast of interview:
Israeli interviewer: "Who chose Sbarro [restaurant, as the target of the attack]?" Tamimi: "I did. Over nine days I examined the place very carefully and chose it after seeing the large number of visits to this restaurant, the Sbarro restaurant. I didn't want to blow [myself] up, I didn't want to carry out a Martyrdom-seeking operation (i.e., a suicide attack). My mission was just to choose the place and to bring the Martyrdom-seeker (i.e., the suicide bomber). [I made] the general plan of the operation, but carrying it out was entrusted to the Martyrdom-seeker. ... I told him to enter the restaurant, eat a meal, and then after 15 minutes carry out the Martyrdom-seeking operation. During the quarter of an hour I would return the same way that I had arrived. Then I bade him farewell. He went inside, he crossed the road and went to the restaurant, and I went back the way I had come... You have to know something: a Martyrdom-seeker has a very special character, and I was amazed at his great wish to carry out the operation, his great wish to pass over to a different life. How beautiful it is when you make a person - [starts the sentence again] [Suppose] there's a poor person and you give him a lot of money. He will be happy and you yourself will be happy that you realized for him the happy life that he wanted. My job was to realize, for this Martyrdom-seeker, the happy life that he wanted. Interviewer: Didn't you think about the people who were in the restaurant? The children? The families? Tamimi: "No." Tamimi: "I have no regrets, and no Palestinian prisoner regrets what he or she has done. We were defending ourselves. What are we supposed to regret? Should we regret defending ourselves? Should we regret that the Israelis killed one of us so we killed a different one of them? We have no regrets." Interviewer: Do you know how many children were killed in the restaurant? Tamimi: Three children were killed in the operation, I think. [Smiles.] Interviewer: Eight. Tamimi: Eight?! [Smiles.] Eight.
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