Suicide Bombers' Mother Elected to Palestinian Parliament

ByABC News
January 24, 2006, 4:04 PM

GAZA, Jan. 26, 2006 — -- Mariam Farahat, who was elected to the Palestinian parliament, can work a crowd like a veteran politician -- shaking hands and greeting supporters. When she gets on the stage at a Hamas rally, she is the star attraction. She was one of Hamas' most popular candidates in Wednesday's election.

In Gaza, Farahat is known as Um Nidal, or Mother of the Struggle -- a mother who sent three of her six sons on Hamas suicide missions against Israeli targets.

"We consider it holy duty," she told ABC News. "Our land is occupied. You take all the means to banish the occupier. I sacrificed my children for this holy, patriotic duty. I love my children, but as Muslims we pressure ourselves and sacrifice our emotions for the interest of the homeland. The greater interest takes precedence to the personal interest."

She is most famous for her presence in a Hamas video, showing her 17-year-old how to attack Israelis and telling him not to return. Shortly afterward, he killed five students in a Jewish settlement before he was killed himself.

Um Nidal's home has become a shrine to her dead sons, with admirers and other members of Hamas often dropping by.

Um Nidal is not your typical Hamas candidate, but she does represent an extreme wing of the party -- one that is wildly popular despite being downplayed in this election.

"I had no desire to join the parliament or the political arena," she said. "It was enough ... the pride of jihad, and I found that I have to complete my social and political duty."

Destroying Israel is not something Hamas has promoted much during this election campaign. But at the grassroots level in Gaza, where Um Nidal campaigns, most Palestinian supporters believe it was the violent attacks against Israel that forced them to pull out from the Gaza Strip last fall.

"This is our strategy," she said. "We are working on two parallel lines -- the political and the jihadist."

Um Nidal is now a politician, but she says violence is still an option. And she does have three sons who are still alive. If necessary, she says, they will follow in their brothers' footsteps.

ABC News' Wilf Dinnick contributed to this report.