Following is a WorldNetDaily exclusive interview with Abu Jihad, northern West Bank chief for the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the terror group that sent a suicide bomber yesterday to kill Israelis in Tel Aviv.
Bomber Sami Antar, 20, a resident of the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, blew himself up in a small restaurant in the southern section of the city near the main Tel Aviv bus station. Most of the 22 injured were diners eating outdoors at the shop’s sidewalk seating area.
The Islamic Jihad terror group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but WND was first to report the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the declared military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, was behind the blast.
Here, Abu Jihad talks about his group’s involvement in the attack, the mindset of yesterday’s suicide bomber and the likelihood of future attacks.
Arabic-English translation by Ali Waked.
WND: Palestinian and Israeli security officials say Islamic Jihad doesn’t have a major cell in the Balata refugee camp. I have been there many times. Your group dominates the camp. Clearly, if the bomber came from Balata, he was likely a member of the Fatah Party’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Is this accurate?
ABU JIHAD: We felicitated our brothers in the Islamic Jihad for this heroic attack. We do not feel any sorrow or shame to admit that in [yesterday's] attack and many other operations exist a very high level of cooperation, coordination and collaboration. But allow me please not to give any operational details to you for security reasons. When I said that the collaboration is at all levels, one should understand what I mean. Our relations with the leadership of Islamic Jihad are perfect, a very warm relation of brothers and fighters in the resistance, and again, I felicitated them in this heroic and blessed attack.
WND: The bomber detonated his explosives behind a closed door in the bathroom. I was told by Israeli security officials on the scene the bomber may have been preparing the device for an attack at another location when it detonated prematurely. Outside the restaurant was crowded with people. If explosives were set off out there, officials say many Israelis would have been killed. Did your suicide bomber mess up? Or maybe he had second thoughts?
ABU JIHAD: [Yesterday's attack] was not a failure. On the contrary it was a big success that in spite of all the Israeli security measures we succeeded to hit once again deep inside the territory of the enemy. Concerning what happened to our hero, it is only Allah who knows what happened there. He should have exploded in a more populated and central place, and I think that the security measures that were taken in the area prevented him from fulfilling his mission as was planned.
Rescue workers collect body parts at site of suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. (Photo: WND)
As for him regretting his mission, it is nonsense. He went to this mission fully convinced of its worthiness and that it was the right of the Palestinian resistance to react after all the Israeli aggression. He deeply believed that it was a holy mission.
WND: A holy mission? At least 22 civilians were injured, 2 critically. Many could have died if your bomber hadn’t detonated his explosives in the bathroom. Why is killing innocents holy to you?
ABU JIHAD: It is a holy mission because it was a reply to the bloodshed of our brothers who were assassinated in Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem. All of the Palestinians who get killed are innocent. Why is it that nobody in Israel or in the world says anything when the Palestinian innocents get killed? I did not see these so-called innocent Israelis you speak of going out on the streets and protesting against their government’s policy and against its aggression toward the Palestinian people. Not doing so means that they support their government, and this gives us the full right to react as we did. It is strange and at the same time outrageous that only when Israelis get killed everybody speaks about innocents.
WND: Do you feel any remorse whatsoever for killing Israelis?
ABU JIHAD: No remorse. We do not feel any remorse or have any mercy toward those who don’t feel mercy towards us.
WND: Was there a specific agenda to the suicide bombing?
ABU JIHAD: It was our answer and reaction to the daily violations of the cease-fire and the latest violation that was the assassination of Hamas leader in Tulkarem at the beginning of this week.
WND: But the bombing comes just before next week’s Palestinian elections in which it is widely assumed your group, Fatah, will do poorly against Hamas. Your organization has been openly trying to delay the elections by starting violence and even raiding election offices. Was the Tel Aviv suicide bombing an attempt to force Israel to respond in the West Bank in such a way that it will prompt a postponement of the elections?
ABU JIHAD: The attack had nothing to do with the elections. As I said, the only purpose was to avenge our brothers who got killed in Jenin, Nablus and Tulkerem. We cannot be accused of responsibility for this attack. Those responsible are the Israelis, those who kill our brothers and leaders on a daily basis. We support the elections and democracy and we have declared that we will protect the voting offices, but this does not mean in any case that we will give up our right to react against the Zionist enemy when he violates agreements and kills our people.
WND: People in your organization have reportedly said they get money from Iran and Syria-backed Hezbollah. Did Iran or Syria pay for this attack? Did they ask your group to carry it out?
Tel Aviv restaurant bombed today (Photo: WND)
ABU JIHAD: These claims are Israeli attempts to make a separation between the Palestinian leadership, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance inside and outside the Palestinian territories. Money and support can come from everywhere, but we should not forget that our main support comes from our Palestinian people in the territories who deeply and fully support the resistance.
We should not forget also that half of the Palestinian people live outside Palestine, in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere. Don’t they have the right to be involved in the life and problems of the Palestinian people and to take part in fighting against Palestinian suffering? But I am not in any case saying that your statement about the money coming from abroad is true.
WND: Should Israel expect more suicide bombings in the near future? The country is gearing up for Israeli elections in March. Elections here seem to prompt suicide bombings.
ABU JIHAD: The elections don’t play any role in our decision to carry out resistance operations. We will keep leading attacks as long as such attacks are needed in accordance to what Israel does. If Israel continues operations in the West Bank, the Palestinian resistance will go on with rockets and martyrdom attacks.