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Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi describes her part in 2001 Sbarro suicide bombing, in which 15 were murdered; describes wating to kill as many people as possible

Al-Aqsa TV, Hamas  |

Al-Aqsa TV program Testimony from Prison, interview with released terrorist Ahlam Tamimi who was involved in the murder of 15, 7 of them children at the Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem in 2001.

Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi: "I entered [the supermarket] and took a cart, and I began to walk calmly – I was calm, I had already entered the place before a few times. I put a number of goods I wanted to buy in the cart, and reached the [beer] shelf and changed the place of the bomb. I spoke English well, and I pretended I was speaking to my mother in English… and with Allah's mercy it went well. I activated the bomb quickly with my fingers and placed it, and continued on my way. I entered the supermarket at 12:05 p.m., and I knew that I needed to finish within an hour because the bomb would explode at 1:00 p.m., and I needed to leave the place. Now I bought a few things, went to the cashier, [and] paid for everything."

Al-Aqsa TV host: "Wasn't there a long line?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "There wasn't a long line… Praise Allah, I paid and left immediately. I returned to where I had come from, moved away from there, and at 1:00 p.m. the supermarket exploded."

Host: "Were you close?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "No, I had already moved away. I finished the operation and did not turn my head. You don't want to arouse suspicion. I walked as if nothing had happened… I did not speak to anyone; I left the place, arrived at the Damascus Gate, got into a car going to Ramallah, and followed the news."

Host: "You heard the news report?

Ahlam Tamimi: "On the bus radio."

Host: "This was your first operation. How did you feel at that moment?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "I was very happy about its completion; and I followed [the news]: Would there be dead people? … I remember they said: There was an explosion at the King George supermarket and… I do not remember word for word, but they said there were no wounded – no dead and no wounds. And I immediately, despite my joy over completing the operation – I was very saddened and said: Why wasn't anyone killed, or even wounded? Then I said: I will continue to follow [the news], maybe they will announce someone dying or at least one wounded. Then we traveled by bus, and I continued to follow the news. But they confirmed there were no wounded or dead… I returned home and continued to follow [reports on] the operation, and it was said that there were no wounded or dead… Why wasn’t anyone killed? Where was the mistake, what happened? And afterwards, when I met with Muhammad Daghlas, it became clear that the bomb had been well made, and the explosion was strong, and I saw that the supermarket was entirely destroyed, and I did not understand how there was not even one wounded person. And then I thought, and I am sure, that they [the Israelis] hid the number of dead, or at least the wounded, in order not to arouse fear in this area…

And therefore we decided that because they hid the number… we were angry then, I remember, and we decided that as many people as possible would be killed in an operation that we would prepare for them, Allah willing. In other words, as a punishment for them for hiding the number of wounded in the beer can bomb operation. We decided to act immediately and [said]: 'Allah, direct our steps, our operations’ – in other words we prayed a lot to Allah.”

Host: "Now we will talk about the Sbarro operation, in which perhaps 16 soldiers or Zionist settlers were killed, and dozens were wounded (sic., 15 civilians, 7 of them children, were murdered in the Sbarro bombing and 130 were wounded.) How was this operation planned? You chose the location; tell us about it.”

Ahlam Tamimi: "I told you, after Jamal Salim and Jamal Mansour (i.e., Hamas leaders) were killed, we immediately decided to respond to the operation of their killing. I was completely ready for this. In patrols I carried out I defined a number of places, and I notified them [Hama] that I was completely prepared. Whenever I would be given an order to do anything I was completely ready. But I did not know that in this operation I would accompany a Martyrdom-seeker (Istish'had) (i.e., suicide bomber –Ed.) – I thought I would carry a bomb."

Host: "This was during [your] university years?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "Yes, I was studying in university and I was in the last part of the studies, and also Muhammad Daghlas… I was at a lecture at the university, [when] I received a call from Muhammad Daghlas that I must go to Ramallah… and when I was in Ramallah I was surprised to find that there was a Martyrdom-seeker…"

Host: "First please [tell us] about how the [Sbarro] restaurant was chosen. Did you enter it before then?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "I went to the restaurant on patrols, but I did not enter it then – not like the supermarket that I entered a number of times. But this restaurant was always on my way, and I noticed that many people came to it. Everyone went to this place and it was crowded. Some sat down to eat and some took their food with them… It was right at the corner of Jaffa Street and King George [Street]. This is a central junction. I said in the report I submitted that if there would be an operation at this place, it was guaranteed that everyone in the restaurant would 'go,' and guaranteed that many of those at the junction would 'go.' The place was crowded with many pedestrians and many cars standing at the traffic light. In other words, a busy place…

Host: "Regarding the guitar, where did the idea of a guitar come from?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "We decided- between the end of July [2001] until Aug. 9 there were nine days, and then we decided that we would respond to the killing of Jamal Salim and Jamal Mansour, and we spoke about the shape of the bomb… I learned that Abdallah Barghouti (i.e., terrorist bombmaker, involved in murder of 67) booby trapped an oud (i.e., Middle Eastern stringed musical instrument)… I said to Muhammad Daghlas I prefer it not be an oud. I am in the field, I know that an oud is an oriental Arab instrument, and is suspicious… Muhammad Daghlas said: ‘I passed on your idea’…

I went to Ramallah at the invitation of Muhammad Daghlas, and he said to me: 'Now you will not take a bomb, but rather will lead a Martyrdom-seeker.' I said to him: 'Allah willing’… I remembered then a Martyrdom-seeker who came from Birzeit, Diya Al-Tawil (i.e., suicide bomber, wounded 28)…

The moment that Muhammad Daghlas said: 'Are you ready to lead a Martyrdom-seeker?' I said: 'I am ready.’ I said: ‘Like Diya Al-Tawil?' He said: 'Yes, like him.' I said: 'Allah willing…' He said: 'The Martyrdom-seeker is with me now.’ I was surprised… He stood about four meters from us… He wore black sunglasses like the fashion at the time, and faded jeans… He did not look like a mosque guy…

The moment that Muhammad Daghlas went and talked to him, he looked directly at me, and we gazed at each other. He was with the glasses, but he smiled. I said: 'O Allah, this man, will I lose him in a few moments?’ I felt a chill at this first moment, when I saw Izz Al-Din [Al-Masri] (i.e., Sbarro suicide bomber, murdered 15, including 7 children). But something else – from this moment and until the operation was carried out, I felt that we were surrounded by a strange heavenly aura… I felt cold and hot at the same time. I felt that I was calm, that there was something leading me."

Host: "And where was the guitar at this point?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "The guitar was in a box. We went to public transportation… [Izz Al-Din Al-Masri] walked behind me and had to carry the booby-trapped guitar."

Host: "Did he carry the guitar in a box?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "Yes, he carried a large cardboard box… he carried the box and we walked… we got on a minibus from Ramallah to Jerusalem, like a regular trip. I was in the back, and he was in front next to the driver. He put the bomb in the luggage compartment of the vehicle, and we traveled as usual. He put the bomb in the compartment like a regular guy, closed it, and sat next to the driver."

[At the second checkpoint] the driver said: ‘Whoever doesn’t have a Palestinian id card should get off the bus and we’ll meet you [on the other side], I was surprised to see Izz Al-Din get off the bus and leave me alone...

Host: "Were you afraid they would check the bomb?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "Of course… we met Izz Al-Din after we crossed the checkpoint… They did not search the luggage compartment, by the mercy of the Lord of the Universe… At the checkpoint we presented the documents and I presented the journalist card, and they didn’t ask me anything. I presented the journalist card and passed the checkpoint normally… We passed the checkpoint and met Izz Al-Din. He smiled, he laughed, as if telling me: Relax, I did not leave you with this problem. In other words, he wanted to meet Allah, so how would he leave the arena."

Host: "He now had an opportunity to change his mind."

Ahlam Tamimi: "Therefore you sensed his determination to meet Allah, and his love, as if [he said]: ‘I will come to you, my Lord’… 
We reached the Damascus Gate, the final stop of the shuttle vehicles. We got off and I did not speak with Izz Al-Din. There were a great number of [Palestinian] residents of Jerusalem at this place. It is not an exclusive area of the Zionists. He took the box, and it was heavy for him then. He continued to walk behind me… I thought that I would control everything and choose a place where there wasn't even one Palestinian Arab."

Host: "At this time you were in Jerusalem. He didn't take the guitar out of the box?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "He didn't take it out. He waited for the decision."

Host: "But didn't it arouse suspicion, that he was carrying a box in the middle of the Jews?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "No, no, it was a regular box, as if you are carrying- exactly as if you bought a TV in a box. Everyone buys, it is a normal thing. Everyone carries [something] in their hands… We walked naturally and calmly. Afterwards he continued to walk behind me and carry the bomb. I reached the area across from Jaffa Street… We sat on a stone bench, Izz Al-Din and I, at this place."

Host: "Why?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "A few matters – first I wanted him to calm down. Second-"

Host: "How far was it from the restaurant?"

Ahlam Tamimi: "About a 10 minute walk."

Host: "In other words, 10 minutes between him and Paradise."

Ahlam Tamimi: "Ten minutes. I wanted him to sit and said to him: ‘This is the street we will walk down, and there is just about no Palestinian Arab on it’. I wanted to give him an idea of the place we would go to…

He broke the silence and said: 'My sister, this place where we are going, are there many Zionists there?' … I said to him: 'Yes, there are many Zionists, calm down.' He was silent a little and asked: 'Are those in the place where we are going religious Jews?' I said to him: 'Yes, they are mixed, and there are religious among them.’ And before I saw many of those we call ‘Ashkenazi,’ those who have side locks, from the extremist level of the Zionists. They were always standing at the King George-Jaffa junction. I said to him: 'Yes, there are,' and he relaxed… I said to him: 'If Allah wishes, he will decide that I will give you what you want.' Afterwards, we unloaded the box, at the same place. There was a garbage can there and I calmly put the box there. I helped him put the guitar on – it had a carrying strap. I helped him with this, and afterwards he said to me: 'I know exactly how to activate the bomb.' I said to him: 'That is not my mission, everything else is on you. My mission is to bring you to the place of the operation.’ Now, after he put on [the guitar] he smiled all the time – I told you there was a strange heavenly aura around him… 
He was calm, spiritual… He gave me the chills and warmed me at the same time, a strange feeling…

I asked if he spoke another language and he said that he knows only Arabic. So I said to him: ‘I will speak in English and you will move your head as if you understand’… and I said to him: 'We will go to the place; I will not enter it with you.’ …The restaurant, I did not tell him the name, [I said:] 'This place. We will stand directly across from it, and you will look and understand that this is the place to which you are going. And do not answer me and do not draw me into speaking Arabic with you among them, because we will stand right across from this restaurant. There is a traffic light there; a group of Zionists will stand there waiting to cross. We will stand among them, and when you see the place you will understand that it is the place. I will go and you will cross the street… and now we will trust Allah and will go to this place.’"

Ahlam Tamimi - Palestinian female terrorist who led suicide bomber Izz Al-Din Al-Masri to the Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem where he murdered 15 people, 7 of them children, and wounded 130 on Aug. 9, 2001. Tamimi has explained that she chose Sbarro because she expected it to be full, and she expressed disappointment at initial reports indicating few victims: "They said...there had been a Martyrdom attack at the Sbarro restaurant, and that 3 people were killed... I was a bit disappointed, because I had hoped for a larger toll." Tamimi was sentenced to 16 life sentences, but was released in October 2011 as part of the Shalit prisoner exchange deal between the Israeli government and Hamas. In that deal, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held hostage by Hamas for more than 5 years.

Diya Al-Tawil - 19-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber and Hamas member who blew himself up at the French Hill Junction in Jerusalem and wounded 28, 2 of them seriously, after being prevented from boarding bus no. 6 due to security concerns on March 27, 2001.

Abdallah Barghouti

Diya Al-Tawil - 19-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber and Hamas member who blew himself up at the French Hill Junction in Jerusalem and wounded 28, 2 of them seriously, after being prevented from boarding bus no. 6 due to security concerns on March 27, 2001.

Izz Al-Din Al-Masri – suicide bomber who carried out the Aug. 9, 2001 bombing of the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem, in which 15 civilians were murdered, including 7 children, and 130 wounded. Israel transferred the terrorist’s body to the PA on April 29, 2014. 

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