Mideast - AFP

Brother slams Palestinian militants for luring teenager into suicide mission

Date: Tue, Mar 30, 2004

NABLUS, West Bank (AFP) - Palestinian militants tried to lure a schoolboy into carrying out a suicide mission by promising him eternal paradise and cash for his family if he blew himself up in Israel, his brother said.

Fifteen-year-old Tamer Khuweir was detained by Israeli troops in his family's home in Nablus' upmarket Rafidiya neighborhood on Sunday, just days after a fellow pupil from the Omar Ibn al-Khattab high school was apprehended with a belt of explosives strapped to his chest.

Tamer's older brother, Raed, 23, poured scorn on members of the hardline Islamic Jihad faction who he said had recruited and "brainwashed" the youngster.

Raed's accusation was denied by an Islamic Jihad official, who pointed the finger at Palestinian "collaborators" with Israel.

Raed told AFP after Tamer's arrest: "He was crying and shaking when he told me 'they lured me. I was supposed to do the attack today but I decided not to. I am not going.'

"They crushed my brother. These are dubious people who tarnish the reputation of the resistance by making us look like barbarians who exploit children."

Tamer did not go to school on Sunday, the day he was supposed to carry out the attack, but he changed his mind at the last minute and went home where he confessed to his family.

He was later arrested by Israeli troops and remains in custody.

Raed said his brother told him how he had been approached two weeks earlier by individuals who "introduced themselves as members of the Al-Quds Brigades," the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, to recruit him as a suicide bomber.

"They later took him to see a (religious) sheikh, who sat in a dark room, and told him that death was inevitable, that paradise was eternal and that if he committed the attack he would go to heaven where he would live with virgins for ever after," said Raed.

"The sheikh told him to imagine himself for a moment in heaven and then in hell, and to compare both situations," he added.

"He also told us that he was given a mobile phone, a packet of cigarettes, 100 shekels (around 20 dollars), a sweater and a pair of jeans he was supposed to wear on the day of the attack."

The militants also allegedly promised the teenager they would give his family 50,000 Jordanian dinars (77,700 dollars) if their house was destroyed by the army, a standard response by the Israeli army after a suicide attack.

A man from Ramallah, in the central West Bank, was to accompany Tamer to show him the bombing target.

"I wonder how they managed to brainwash him and trap him because we are doing very well financially. We live in a big house and we don't need anything," Raed said.

"We call on the Palestinian Authority (news - web sites) to investigate this affair and on Islamic Jihad to reveal who these people are that deceive children, so that we find out whether they really belong to the group.

"We will regard their silence as an admission of guilt," he said.

But Kadher Hazbib, an Islamic Jihad official, told AFP in Gaza City that his group "prohibits all youths under the age of 18 from belonging to its armed branch ... and of carrying out resistance operations."

He said he did not rule out the possibility that "collaborators with Israel using this strategy so as to tarnish the image of the resistance."

Tamer is a schoolmate of 16-year-old Hossam Abdo who was arrested last week with an explosive belt at the Hawara checkpoint, on the outskirts of this northern West Bank city.

Palestinian rights groups and intellectuals have condemned the recruitment of minors for such attacks, while Israeli authorities have launched a media blitz denouncing "the exploitation of children by Palestinian terrorist groups".



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