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BBC Interview with Hussam Abdo, Arab Suicide Bomber, Age 15, Who Didn't Push the Button...

- Comments by Jared Israel  -
Editor, Emperor's Clothes

[Posted 18 July 2004]



Below is a July 16th, 2004 BBC interview with Hussam Abdo.

The interview is remarkable, first of all, because Hussam Abdo is alive to give it. Three months ago, on 24 March 2004, Hussam, then 15 years old, was sent by Yassar Arafat's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to blow himself up at the Hawara Checkpoint in the West Bank.

The checkpoint is a busy place. If Hussam Abdo had completed his mission he might have killed not only Israeli soldiers but also many of  the 200-300 Arab civilians who were gathered there. [1]

Fortunately Israeli soldiers spotted something bulky under the boy's jacket and shouted for everyone to run for cover. Then two things happened: Hussam Abdo decided not to push the detonator; and Israeli troops sent a robot to Hussam with a pair of scissors and then patiently talked him through removing a vest filled with explosives and nails, instead of simply shooting him.

For many people the Hussam Abdo footage was an eye-opener.  Hussam's age (he was a *young* 15) and the manifest kindness of the Israeli troops simply did not fit the notion, fostered by the mass media and politicians, that Palestinian suicide terrorists are supposedly making a Political Statement because they have been Driven to Despair by supposedly Hateful Jewish people. The usual explanation is, "What else can they do?" It was as if that line was fashioned in one world, while Hussam and the Israeli troops dwelt in another.

The July 16th, 2004 BBC interview provides further food for thought.  As you read it you might want to ask yourself, 'Why would Hussam Abdo see blowing himself up as a reasonable way to get out of going to school?'

Let me provide a clue. After he was arrested at the Hawara Checkpoint, Hussam was interviewed by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.  A few English language newspapers published the Associated Press summary of that interview:

[Excerpt from AP report starts here]

"Abdo said he wanted to reach paradise, which he was taught in school was the reward for suicide bombers.

"'A river of honey, a river of wine and 72 virgins. Since I have been studying Koran I know about the sweet life that waits there (in Paradise),'" the newspaper quoted the boy as saying.

-- AP report published by USA Today; 25 March 2004; "Israelis stop boy wearing bomb vest"

[Excerpt from AP report ends here]

So it was *in school* that Hussam learned that suicide terrorists are rewarded in a heaven of earthly delights!  As you may or may not be aware, Palestinian schools are tightly controlled by Yassar Arafat's Palestinian Authority. That is the same Yassar Arafat whose forces also control the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade which, according to Hussam,  recruited him to be a "martyr" at his school. (See BBC interview below.)

Hussam expresses no animosity towards Israelis.  He says the soldiers treated him well. He says he expects there to be peace between Arabs and Jews.  He says he was relieved when, on March 24th, an Israeli doctor let him use a cell phone to call his mother and then, when his mother wept, took the phone and spoke to her. According to Hussam:

"He said don't worry about your son, he's fine, we'll take care of him."

The boy acknowledges this. He says he would warn any boy being sent on a suicide mission not to go: 

"I would stop him because if he got caught he would go to prison and it's not a nice place and he shouldn't be away from his parents."

And yet at the same time he still says that to blow oneself up in a crowd of Jews is life's loftiest achievement: 

"It's better than being a singer or a footballer. It's better than everything."

By the way, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades at first took "credit" for the heroic act of sending Hussam to martyr himself (and many others!) at Hawara Checkpoint.  But then, when by some miracle Hussam didn't kill himself, and by some further miracle some of the media covered what had happened so that people could see Hussam was only a child, Al Aqsa denied they had sent him, claiming it was all a fabrication of Israeli propagandists. [2]

Al Aqsa's attempt to rewrite history in real time was awkward due to Al Aqsa having just taken "credit" for sending Hussam, and due to Hussam's mother, who had the rare courage to give interviews denouncing these "heroes" who recruited her son, and due to the fact that the whole thing was filmed by reporters.

I've posted a page of pictures of Hussam Abdo at Hawara Checkpoint. You can access the pictures at

Below is the BBC interview.

Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes


'Nobody is going to live forever'

By James Reynolds
BBC Jerusalem correspondent

** It was an unforgettable image. A teenager standing alone at a checkpoint, explosives strapped to his chest, confused, trying to follow Israeli orders to get him to dismantle his bomb. **

That afternoon, in March 2004, 15-year-old Hussam Abdo took up his own small place in the imagery of this conflict.

Since his arrest he has been in an Israeli prison.

We were let inside a high security jail in the north of the country and told to wait in a meeting room.

Minutes later, Hussam Abdo was brought in to see us.

He was wearing a brown prison uniform and handcuffs. He was tiny - he didn't even reach my shoulder.

He sat down, smiled and talked readily. A prison guard sat at the end of the room watching our conversation.

Below is a transcript of the interview:

James Reynolds: Everyone saw the TV pictures of you at the checkpoint that day. Can you tell me what you did that day?

Hussam Abdo: In the morning at 6am I prayed and kissed my mother goodbye and told her I was going to school.

Then I went to my friend's house at 6am.

He took me to some guys in Nablus. I sat with them and spoke to them. And then they took pictures of me and put on the bomb belt.

And then I went off to the checkpoint. I got to the checkpoint at 1pm.

The army caught me at 1.30pm. I stayed with the soldiers at the checkpoint till 9pm and then they took me to the military base.

JR: When you went out with your bomb belt what was your target?

Hussam: They told me to go to a checkpoint. They told me you blow yourself up at the checkpoint.

They showed me a videotape of it.

JR: When you put on that belt did you really know - as a 15-year-old - that you were going to go and murder people, that you were going to go and cause great suffering to mothers and fathers, that you were going to be a mass murderer? Did you really know that?

Hussam: Yes. Just like they came and caused our parents sadness and suffering they too should feel this. Just like we feel this - they should also feel it.

JR: Were you excited?

Hussam: I was a little bit nervous. But not to the point that I was very scared. I was kind of normal.

JR: Were you scared of dying?

Hussam: No. I'm not afraid of death.

JR: Why not?

Hussam: Nobody is going to live forever. We're all going to die.

JR: But you were only 15 years old at the time.

Hussam: I wanted to be relieved of school.

JR: When the army caught you, how did you feel?

Hussam: I was a bit scared. The soldiers came to me and there were many of them so I was a bit scared.

I was afraid that they would beat me but I wasn't afraid that they'd shoot me.

They were nice to me - they treated me well.

JR: Are you sad that you didn't manage to blow yourself up and kill many Israelis?

Hussam: I feel normal. But I thank God that the operation didn't go through.

JR: You thank God that you didn't die - why?

Hussam: It's just the way it is. God doesn't want me to die.

JR: Who sent you?

Hussam: My friend Nasser. He's 16. He was my classmate.

JR: How did he tell you about it?

Hussam: I was sitting with a friend of mine and he comes to me and says can you find me a martyr bomber?

Then I told him I'll do it. My friend says - really? And I answer - yes I'll do it.

So he agreed and he took me to see another guy.

The guy's name was Wael. He was from Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. He was 21.

Then he took me to another guy who put the bomb belt on me and they took pictures of me.

The pictures were on the day before. Of course he asked me a lot of questions.

He asked me who I was and why I wanted to do this. I answered all of his questions. I told him I wanted to do it because of my friend who was killed and he agreed to let me do it.

JR: Did the people who sent you - the people from the Al Aqsa Brigades - did they promise you anything?

Hussam: Of course they did. They told me, once you carry out the operation and the soldiers come and demolish your home, we'll stand by your parents and rebuild your house and give them money.

JR: What are your feelings towards the people who sent you?

Hussam: I feel normal. One of them is my friend and he will stay my friend because, just like me, he's also in prison.

JR: Did you ever talk to your family about what you were going to do?

Hussam: I didn't tell my parents.

JR: Why not?

Hussam: Because if I'd told my mother she wouldn't have let me leave the house.

She'd have yelled at me, cried and told me not to do it.

JR: Have you spoken to them since your arrest?

Hussam: I spoke to them shortly after I was arrested. I was at the army base and the doctor there was checking me and I told him I wanted to speak to my mother, so he lent me his mobile phone.

He let me speak to my mother. She began to cry - she'd seen what happened on TV.

Then the doctor took the phone away from me and he spoke to my mother.

He said don't worry about your son, he's fine, we'll take care of him.

JR: How did you feel when you spoke to your mother?

Hussam: I felt relieved.

JR: Some teenagers want to be footballers, others want to be singers. You wanted to be a suicide bomber. Why?

Hussam: It's not suicide - it's martyrdom.

I would become a martyr and go to my God. It's better than being a singer or a footballer. It's better than everything.

JR: What was the main reason for you deciding to become a suicide bomber? The one reason in particular.

Hussam: The reason was because my friend was killed.

The second reason I did it is because I didn't want to go to school.

My parents forced me to go to school and I didn't feel like going.

JR: Are you saying that one of the reasons you wanted to become a suicide bomber was because you didn't like your teacher?

Hussam: That and because of my friend Sabih, who was killed.

JR: It seems extreme that if you don't like your teacher it could partially propel you towards murder and suicide.

Hussam: The thing is my parents forced me to go to school and I didn't want to go.

So I used to go there and run away. Then I had problems with the teachers. The principal took me to the police because I got into a fight with the teachers.

JR: Let's say there's another kid your age - 15 or 16 - and he wanted to go and blow himself up and kill Israelis. Would you stop him?

Hussam: I would stop him because if he got caught he would go to prison and it's not a nice place and he shouldn't be away from his parents.

JR: If you could turn back time and go back to that morning would you do it again?

Hussam: No.

JR: You wouldn't do it again? Why not?

Hussam: Because of prison. And also in the end there'll be peace.

JR: You really think in the end there will be peace?

Hussam: Yes.

JR: Do you know how long you will be here in an Israeli prison?

Hussam: The lawyer told me two-three years.

JR: What do you want to do with your life when you get out of prison?

Hussam: I want to go home and be with my parents and work in my father's shop.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/07/16 10:13:23 GMT

© BBC MMIV Posted here for educational purposes, for fair use only.

[Footnotes and Further Reading follows the fundraising appeal]


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Footnotes and Further Reading

[1]  CBS News; Teen Bomber Stopped At West Bank; March 25, 2004 17:25

[2] On March 24th, 2004 the media reported that Arafat's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed "credit" for Hussam's mission. By the 25th, the media was reporting both that one unit of Al Aqsa was still claiming "credit" and also that Al Aqsa was denying any involvement. Within a few days the Palestinian media, controlled by Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Authority, was blaming Israel for the use of children as anti-Jewish suicide bombers. The Israelis fabricated the incident at Hawara Checkpooint, wrote the official Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on March 18, and:

"The occupation [i.e., Israel] in this situation and with this lie, is playing with its own blood, and it is like they are encouraging children to go from stone-throwing to use of explosives ... Israel's focusing accusations about children [in suicide terror] is in fact an open invitation to other children to imitate the accusations, because it is characteristic of children to blindly imitate."
-- Quoted in National Post (Canada; April 8, 2004 Thursday National Edition; Section: Comment; Pg. A18; Length: 732 Words; Headline: Blaming Israel For Child Bombers?; Source: National Post; Byline: Itamar Marcus And Barbara Crook 

If this claim strikes you as mad, you may recall that the PA and other Arab "militants" also claim that the "Protocols of Zion" is an honest  historical document, written by real-life Jews!

For direct evidence that the Palestinian Authority (PA) uses its media to teach the very young to extol suicide bombing, see the video, "Ask for Death," which consists of PA broadcasts, including an interview with two pre-teens who explain that *of course* dying as a suicide bomber is the best thing ever. If your computer has a fast internet hookup, use this link to watch the video: 
If you're using a 56k modem, use this link: 

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