Jerusalem, 12 February 2002
Blackmailing Young Women into Suicide Terrorism
(Communicated by Israeli Security Sources)
1. Since the beginning of the current wave of Palestinian violence
(September 2000), the phenomenon of young women being blackmailed into
carrying out suicide bombings or other kinds of attacks has become
increasingly commonplace. To date, there have been more than 20
instances of young Palestinian women committing terrorist attacks
against Israeli targets, among them suicide missions. A recently
declassified Israel Military Intelligence report has examined the
motivation of Palestinian terrorist organizations for employing women
terrorists, despite the lack of social and religious consensus for
female participation in such actions.
2. One of the motivations behind the recruitment of women appears to
be the attempt to exploit the image of women, which raises less
suspicion than men. It is thus easier for the woman terrorist to
blend into the "Israeli street".
The terrorist organizations also wish to take advantage of the
sensitivity demonstrated by Israeli soldiers toward Palestinian
women, and their reluctance to carry out searches of their person.
3. From the women's perspective, the root of their susceptibility to
pressure to sacrifice their lives in terrorist attacks is often
grounded in personal, emotional or social vulnerabilities.
Women whose social standing is problematic, including women who have
acquired a 'bad name' due to assumed promiscuity or extra-marital
relationships, have often been convinced to take part in terrorist
operations as a means of rehabilitating their status and character in
Palestinian society. Included among these operations are suicide
The strength of this type of persuasion can best be understood in the
relevant cultural framework - a society where women are often
considered to embody the honor of the family. Any hint of
impropriety, no matter how minor, can have serious consequences for
the woman involved, even prompting male family members to murder her
in a so-called "honor" killing.
4. Such personal motives have been well exploited by the terrorist
organizations when they approach women in order to recruit them for
suicide attacks. Recent intelligence information, gathered by Israeli
liaison and coordination officials, have identified a clear effort by
the Yasser Arafat's Fatah 'Tanzim' militia to recruit as suicide
terrorists those young women who find themselves in acute emotional
distress due to social stigmatization.
5. Reliable Palestinian sources, well informed of events in the
Bethlehem area, have shed important light on the modus operandi of
the Fatah/Tanzim in their recruitment of one such young woman to
carry out a suicide attack. The report of the Palestinian sources to
Israeli officials described the recruitment as follows:
- The Target for Recruitment: A 20 year old woman, a resident of
Bethlehem, was recruited by Fatah/Tanzim during the course of October
2002, in order to carry out a suicide attack within Israel.
- The Operatives Responsible for the Recruitment: The young woman
was recruited by two older women, who were sent by Hindi al Mughrabi,
the wife of Ahmed al Mughrabi, a senior Tanzim operative from
Dehaisheh who was recently arrested by Israeli security forces. These
two women were also involved in recruitment operations directed by
Rifat Jubraneh, a senior Tanzim operative and the Bethlehem commander
of Bashir Nafa's Palestinian Authority 'Special Forces'. Jubraneh was
also recently arrested by Israel.
- The Method of Recruitment: The young woman was blackmailed into
recruitment for a suicide operation by use of social and
psychological coercion, after she had become involved in an illicit
personal relationship. This method of coercion, often used by
Fatah/Tanzim, is characterized by the seduction of young women into
illicit relationships, or the arrangement of their rape.
Subsequently, overwhelming emotional pressure is brought to bear on
the women, in order to convince them to commit suicide in an
admirable manner, since the public revelation of their 'impropriety'
would, in Palestinian society, constitute an intolerable disgrace to
the honor of their families.
When the attempt by Fatah/Tanzim to recruit the woman became known to
her family, they smuggled her out of Bethlehem. She is now living in
hiding, in fear of her life, with elements of Fatah/Tanzim constantly
trying to locate her.
6. It was also revealed in the Israeli Intelligence report that the
Fatah has recruited young women to carry out the suicide attacks by
use of emotional/social blackmail, after these women had become
pregnant following their calculated seduction by Fatah operatives.
Among the suicide bombers thus recruited were Andalib Takatka
Suleiman and Ayat al Ahras:
- Andalib Suleiman, a 21-year-old from Bethlehem, blew herself up at
Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. In this attack six people were
killed and over 60 were injured. Among those killed were two workers
- Ayat al Ahras, an eighteen-year-old from Dehaishe refugee camp
near Bethlehem, who carried out a suicide bombing on March 29, 2002
at a supermarket in the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood of Jerusalem in
which two Israeli citizens were killed and twenty two were
7. The Fatah's use of emotional blackmail in order to force socially
vulnerable young women to not only kill themselves, but to kill
innocent civilians as well, is a reprehensible and vile exploitation
of the most fundamental rights of women to freedom, equality and
life. Moreover, making these young women pregnant in order to force
them to become suicide terrorists is worse than blackmail and murder.
It is fundamentally inhuman. It is the creation of a life only in
order to generate greater death.