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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
The quiet killer
Mohammed al-Ghoul, the suicide bomber
At Mohammed al-Ghoul's home in the al-Farra refugee camp in Nablus, his family has tried to take in the fact that the person they describe as quiet and studious had for some time been planning to kill Israelis.

"This time, I hope I will be able to do it," Mohammed wrote in a suicide note found by his family shortly after he blew himself up.

The 22-year-old had, according to the note, planned two other attacks against Israelis but had not gone through with them.


The force of the explosion left the bus a charred shell





No one close to him knew he had been affiliated to the militant Islamic group Hamas, which claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Religious

His family says that in the days before his attack, he had visited an aged aunt and his sisters bringing them sweets. One sister, Layla, said he appeared to be acting normally, but now she believes he was saying goodbye.

"I was surprised," his father Hazaa says. "He was a quiet person and very polite - but God chose him for that act. God will put him in paradise."

"This act makes me proud - although I was hurt that I had lost my son. If they put gold in one hand and my son in the other, of course I would choose my son."

One neighbour describes Mohammed as a religious person, but not a fanatic or a militant.

"I used to go to the mosque to listen to him sing," says 27-year-old Salem.

"He was well respected in the community," he says, "because he could recite the Koran by heart.

Well-off family

"When I heard about the bombing I asked myself: 'Is it true that that quiet person carried out that attack?'"


How beautiful it is to kill and to be killed... for the lives of the coming generation

Mohammed's suicide note
Mohammed had lived most of his life in the al-Farra camp, home to some 5,000 Palestinian refugees.

He was from a relatively well-off family and was studying for a master's degree in Islamic studies at the al-Najah university. A number of suicide bombers have previously attended the university, a known Hamas stronghold.

It was likely that Mohammed was recruited by Hamas's armed wing Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades there.

Leyla Sayed, a neighbour, says that from what she knew of Mohammed, it was unlikely he had been forced to join Hamas, that he chose his own route.

Suicide note

In a videotape released after his death, the bespectacled student dressed in camouflage fatigues said his action was aimed at the security fence that is Israel's latest measure to stop the suicide bombers.

His mission, he said, was to "set the separation fence aflame."

Mohammed's father said that according to the suicide note, his son acted "in order to help the next generation to live in freedom."

"Every day Mohammed woke up in the small prison - for most people here, there is no work, no normal life," his father Hazaa says. "Every day the Israelis enter our cities, they kill and they leave and no one says anything.

"I hope that his death will contribute to finishing the occupation. As long as it continues and the arrests continue, so will the intifada."


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18 Jul 02 | Middle East
18 Jul 02 | Middle East
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