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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Shin Bet: Terrorists recruiting more women, minors


Unlike in the case of the Jawabra clan in Assira e-Shamaliya near Nablus, most females recruited to carry out suicide bomb attacks are arrested in raids rather than handed over by their own families to security forces.


However, the Jawabra family turned daughters Lina and Adilah over to soldiers at an IDF checkpoint after they were warned that their houses would be demolished if the two girls carried out bombings in Tel Aviv.

Only in those instances where officials have knowledge of a pending attack and conclude that the only way to thwart it is by pressuring family members of would-be attackers are such tactics used.

According to Shin Bet officials, terrorist organizations continue to believe that women are less susceptible to checks by security forces and are therefore more likely to enter Israel without raising suspicions.

Since the outbreak of violence four years ago, 40 female terrorists were recruited to carry out suicide bombing attacks. Of that number, seven actually carried out attacks, while security forces arrested the remainder.

Thirty-four of the women were not married; three were divorced; two were married with children; and one was a widow. Between January and July this year 10 female suicide bombers were recruited by terrorist organizations compared with 14 for the entire year of 2003.

Most of the women recruited to the cause are in their mid-twenties, and represent a cross section of Palestinian society, ranging from the well-educated to the poor and uneducated. Of the 33 arrested since 2000, 16 had completed high school education, and 11 were university students.

In order to avoid being noticed the women usually change their external appearance and adopt a modern style of dress that blends in with local Israeli fashion. In some instances, they pose as pregnant women by stuffing a pillow underneath their garments.

Fatah is responsible for recruiting 21; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Islamic Jihad recruited 6 each; and one was recruited by Hamas in Gaza and blew herself up at the Erez crossing earlier this year.

Another worrying development relates to the increased use of children by terrorist organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These children are dispatched not only with explosive belts or to transfer bombs between operatives, but also to compile information on troop movements in preparation for attacks – a tactic most-often used often by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

So far this year a total of 109 Palestinian minors have been arrested for their involvement in terrorist activities compared to a total of 102 in 2003, 54 in 2002, and 27 in 2001.

The youngest children sent by terrorists to launch an attack were two boys who were arrested in January 2003 by security forces in the Gaza Strip. Both carried knives and said they had been sent to place bombs in the area. One was eight years old and the other was 13.