What Makes A Suicide Bomber?
JERUSALEM, July 10, 2001 — -- In the Palestinian towns of the West Bank, there is no shortage of young men eager to become martyrs to the cause.
On the evening of June 1, the town of Kalkilya was celebrating a wedding. Among the well-wishers was a shy-looking young man, dressed in black: Sayeed Hotari.
A few hours after the wedding, Hotari strapped a belt of dynamite to his waist. He walked up to a crowded Tel Aviv disco, and blew himself up.
It was the worst terrorist attack in Israel in more than five years. Twenty-one Israelis, most of them teenagers, were killed.
The next day, Hotari's family received congratulations from the residents of Kalkilya.
"I feel no regret for my son's death," his father said. "I hope all Palestinian men will do the same."
Today in Kalkilya, Sayeed Hotari is a legend. His picture is everywhere and every young boy knows what he did.
Asked whether he wanted to be like Hotari, one young boy in the market replied, "Yes, because he's a hero."
The military wing of Hamas, a Palestinian political group, claimed responsibility for the attack and identified Hotari as the bomber.
Militant groups — and a growing number of Palestinians in the West Bank — don't even use the word suicide to describe the young bombers. For them Sayeed Hotari is a shaheed, a martyr. The shaheed, they say, has a guaranteed place in heaven — and so does his family.
Hotari was a devout Muslim and prayed five times a day. He may also have been motivated by promises the groups make to take care of martyrs' families financially.
But like other young Palestinian men, Hotari was also frustrated and full of anger.
He was an electrician by training, but lost most of his work when Israel sealed off Palestinian areas. His friends say he kept to himself. And each day he watched as Palestinians were injured, and killed, fighting Israelis.
"What makes you sacrifice your life? As a human being, no matter how old, it's basically when there is nothing left for you. Nothing left," said Mahdi Abdul-Hadi, chairman of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, a think tank. "And here is a special mission where you can do something,"