A tale of two terrorists

Nedal Amar and Muhammad Mafarja seem to have little in common, other than that both of them have been indicted or even already convicted for notorious acts of terror.

Muhammed Abed Al Jaffer Nasser Mafarja in court 370 (photo credit: ben hartman)
Muhammed Abed Al Jaffer Nasser Mafarja in court 370
(photo credit: ben hartman)
Nedal Amar, 42, and Muhammad Mafarja, 19, seem to have little in common.
That is, other than that both of them have been indicted or even already convicted for notorious acts of terror, and curiously, both of them were working in Israeli restaurants at the time the terrorist acts were perpetrated.
Amar has been indicted for the murder of IDF Sgt. Tomer Hazan, 20, whom he knew personally and was friendly with – they were coworkers in a Bat Yam restaurant.
Mafarja has been convicted of injuring 26 and the attempted murder of an even larger number of passengers as part of the November 2012 Tel Aviv bus bombing in the middle of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Unlike Amar, Mafarja did not know any of the passengers and was allegedly seeking to harm persons he did not know.
Amar allegedly strangled Hazan with his own hands and a belt from his brother’s pants after Hazan had been fooled into being blindfolded and hand-cuffed.
Allegedly, Amar’s purpose was to trade Hazan – dead or alive – for the freedom of his brother, in prison since 2003 for other terrorist acts.
Amar’s idea was another Gilad Schalit kind of prisoner exchange, but just for his brother’s freedom.
There is no evidence that Hazan had any prior criminal record, nor that he had fanatical, nationalistic or any other motivations other than trying to free his brother, who begged him to undertake the kidnapping.
Mafarja on the other hand placed a bomb on a bus, left the vehicle and then another operative detonated the bomb remotely. His hands remained “clean.”
Mafarja has admitted that his actions were ideological, though he has said that his goal was not so much to kill people per se, but rather to convince the IDF to stop its military actions in Gaza.
The two men offered a completely different presence in court.
Amar looked exhausted, downtrodden, close to tears and was open about regretting his actions, even volunteering that he hoped that Hazan was the last victim in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He was short, skinny and did not look the picture of the scary terrorist (recalling that he strangled Hazan while Hazan was bound and blindfolded).
Mafarja was short, but heavily built, and while he looked out of sorts, he exchanged some jokes and smiles with his lawyer and his Arabic translator, and ranged from yawning to watching his translator playing with his cellphone.
Amar looked worn down from the recent events in his life and mostly kept his head down.
Mafarja had a baby face and, though certainly nervous, kept his head up throughout, seeming curious about his surroundings, and surveying the room.
As different as the two are, the most important fact that will likely summarize at least the next few decades of their lives, is that each of them were allegedly involved in acts of terror and might spend those decades behind bars.
Moreover, until regret sets in with potential terrorists before, and not after, they commit an act of terror, it is unlikely that these victims will be the last victims and far more likely that any victims of these two men, both radically different and similar, will just be added to a list born of a conflict with no foreseeable end.