Suicide bomber mother set to win in Paid Assassins 'elections' wants 3 other sons to die doing their 'Muslim holy patriotic duty'
January 24, 2006
Suicide Bombers' Mother Runs in Palestinian Elections
'Mother of the Struggle' Says She Would Sacrifice Remaining Sons for Jihad
GAZA, Jan. 24, 2006 — - Mariam Farahat, who is running as a candidate in Wednesday's Palestinian parliamentary elections, 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 is one of Hamas's most popular candidates.
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 being in a Hamas video that showed her 17-year-old how to attack Israelis and told 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 likely to win tomorrow with no set policy or platform. But she does have three sons who are still alive. If necessary, she says, they will follow in their brother's footsteps.
Militants pledge to ensure smooth Palestinian vote
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA (Reuters) - Militant groups pledged on the eve of Palestinian elections to prevent any attempt to disrupt voting in the poll, which could usher the powerful Hamas movement into government for the first time.
In election-related violence, gunmen shot dead a Palestinian who tried to prevent them from removing campaign posters of a candidate from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party in the West Bank city of Nablus, residents said on Tuesday.
Hamas, running in its first parliamentary election, is expected to make a strong showing and pose the most serious electoral challenge yet to the mainstream Fatah.
Israeli officials have cautioned that a victory for Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, could herald an end to Middle East peacemaking.
A statement issued by seven militant groups, including Hamas and two armed wings of Fatah, said they had reached "an agreement of honour" to send unarmed observers to assist Palestinian police protecting polling stations.
But the groups said the militants' weapons would not be far away. "We will sever the hands that attempt to touch any ballot box in order to sabotage the vote," said Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, a coalition of militants.
Israeli and Palestinian security forces have been on heightened alert for violence ahead of the election, which is being boycotted by the Islamic Jihad group, a militant faction behind a suicide bombing in Israel last week.
In the West Bank city of Tulkarm, about 20 masked men from Islamic Jihad distributed leaflets urging people not to vote. Police fired in the air to disperse the militants, who carried clubs and knives. No one was hurt.
Over the past week, Abbas has publicly repeated instructions to police "to strike with an iron fist against anyone who tries to sabotage the election".
Islamic Jihad's impact on Palestinian turnout was expected to be small. The group has far less grassroots clout than Hamas, which has gained popularity among Palestinians not only for its attacks on Israelis during more than five years of violence, but also for its charity network and corruption-free image.
Speaking to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas called on Palestinians to exercise their right to vote in their first parliamentary election in 10 years.
"This is a national duty," said Abbas, who agreed a cease-fire with Israel last February.
Most opinion polls show Hamas trailing Fatah for votes, but the margin has narrowed to a few percentage points.
Israel and the United States have long refused any dialogue with Hamas. The group has carried out nearly 60 suicide bombings since the start of a Palestinian uprising in 2000 and its charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Under pressure from Washington, Israel has authorised limited voting in Arab East Jerusalem and interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called for dismantling unauthorised Jewish settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank.
The army said it would evict settlers from Amona, an outpost near the city of Ramallah, by Jan 30, and settlers squatting in a Palestinian market in Hebron would be forced out by February 15.
In an overnight raid in the West Bank, Israeli troops arrested an Islamic Jihad leader and several other members of the group, Palestinian sources said.
Among them was Mahmoud Omar Abu al-Rob, a military leader for Islamic Jihad in Qabatiya, a town outside Jenin, the sources said. Three of the detainees were teenage girls, they added.
Israeli media said the detainees included a woman suspected of planning to carry out a suicide bombing ahead the election.
Israeli troops also arrested Abduallah Arar, 30, of Hamas in the village of Qarawat Bani Zeid, northwest of Ramallah. An Israeli security source said Arar was suspected of involvement in the abduction and killing of an Israeli last September.
Israeli officials said the army would refrain from staging West Bank raids until 48 hours after the Palestinian vote, except in cases of imminent attack.
In what appeared to be a warning to Israel, Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades displayed a crudely built rocket it said could reach 27 km (17 miles) into Israel, more than twice the distance of earlier versions. It offered no evidence to back the claim.
(Additional reporting by Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah, Atef Sa'ad in Nablus, Wael al-Ahmed in Jenin and Dan Williams in Jerusalem)