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 bombings.

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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:

  1. 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 from China.

  2. 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 injured.

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.