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Suicide Bombing (3:02) Excerpt from "Suicide Bombers", 2004
Mohanned Abu Tayyoun describes the events that occurred on the day of his intended suicide bombing.

Country: Israel and Palestine
Related Lesson Plan:
  • Dying to be a Martyr

  • middle east israel map

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    Guiding Questions
    1. Why did Mohanned decide not to complete his planned suicide bombing?

    2. Will Mohanned be condemned for his decision? Praised? Examine your own frame of reference as you respond. What premises, values, and opinions do you draw on as you view this film clip?

    Background Essay
    Mohanned Abu Tayyoun, an 18-year old Palestinian, describes the events that occurred on the day of his intended suicide bombing.

    The use of the term "suicide terrorism" became widespread after a 1983 truck bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. The attack killed 300 military personnel and helped drive American and French Multinational Force troops from Lebanon. According to a 1994 UN General Assembly resolution titled "Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism," terrorism is described as "Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes."

    As a consequence of the successful 1983 attack in Lebanon, insurgent groups such as the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, Hamas in Palestine, and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan began using suicide terrorism as a tactic to further their agendas. Suicide terrorism garners considerable prestige for the perpetrators and their organizations because these attacks are represented as acts of martyrdom; many attackers, along with their supporters, believe their actions will be rewarded in the afterlife. Suicide attackers often believe that their actions are in accordance with moral or social standards because they are aimed at fighting forces and conditions that they perceive as unjust.

    For Israeli and Palestinian citizens, suicide bombings have become a recurrent element in a longstanding conflict. The roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be traced to the late 19th century, when British support for a Jewish state in the area of Palestine grew amidst an era marked by national movements, including Zionism and Arab nationalism. Jews and Arabs have been fighting for a long time over what to do about the region known as the Holy Land, a region with historical and religious importance.

    The Wide Angle film SUICIDE BOMBERS offers a series of unique, powerful, and revealing interviews of Palestinian suicide bombers from inside Israeli prisons. Three failed suicide bombers, one recruiter, and one bomb builder captured by Israeli security forces speak openly of their training, operational methodology, and profound belief in the idea of entering paradise by becoming a shahid, a martyr killed in the cause of Islam. They talk of their hatred of Jews and Israel, their determination to die, and their personal motives — including a failed love, a sense of personal revenge, the frustration of living under Israeli occupation, and envy for the prosperous Israeli style of life.

    I knew I would soon become a martyr. That made me happy. Then I went down to Nablus. I got into a car. When we reached Khirbat Jbara I was tired from the journey. It was around three o'clock. I put the bag down and prayed the afternoon prayer.

    Then I smoked with my driver. We weren't allowed to smoke near the bag because it could explode. We had to put the bag away. Then we smoked, I prayed with him and then we moved on. When we reached Taibeh he left.

    While I was in Taibeh it crossed my mind that some people did not deserve to die. Jews who wanted peace. I was going to kill and didn't know whether any of these people might be around. I didn't know. I got confused. I couldn't think clearly.

    I hid the bag and went for a walk. It was my first time outside Nablus since the start of the Intifada. So I walked around Taibeh trying to clear my mind. I went into a café, smoked cigarettes and a water pipe and had some dinner. In my heart I felt that I didn't want to carry out the operation. I didn't want innocent people and young children to get killed.

    God led me to continue with my life. He wanted me to stay alive. I can't kill myself. It's God who does everything. And he inspired me to go home. He said go home. Go home. If I hadn't gotten confused I'd have been a martyr now.

    Related Links
    Suicide Bombers on PBS.org

    BBC News: In Depth: Israel and the Palestinians

    Library of Congress: Country Study: Israel

    Council on Foreign Relations: Terrorism: Q & A - Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    United Nations: Question of Palestine
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