Beduins mystified by terrorist case

Town tries to grasp what made a 15-year-old perpetrate terrorist attack.

shot terrorist 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
shot terrorist 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
In the dusty Beduin town of Hura, east of Beersheba, residents Sunday were mostly tight-lipped - though a few were brazenly defiant - when asked about 15-year-old Basma Awad al-Nabari, who died after opening fire on a Border Police base in the Negev on Saturday. Relatives in the town of some 10,000 inhabitants said they found it difficult to believe that Nabari, who was known as a calm and successful 10th-grader, could have committed any kind of terrorist act. If she had, they conceded, it's likely that someone outside the family was behind the attack, which caused no other casualties. "We are not a family that teaches their children in this way," her great-uncle Ouda al-Nabari said outside a tent for guests near her home. "We don't go down to this level at all." On Sunday, the Beersheba Magistrate's Court remanded Awad al-Nabari, Basma's father, and his brother, Ibrahim al-Nabari, for four days. The girl's mother, Najah Nabari, was ordered held in custody for a day. Police suspect the girl's parents and uncle aided and abetted her attack at the base at the Tel Shoket junction, and did nothing to stop her despite being aware of her plans. The police representative in court, Haim Didi, said materials carrying messages of incitement to violence and documents linking the girl to Hamas were seized from Basma's bedroom. Evidence was seized from a computer as well. A collection of writings and drawings by Basma was shown by police to the media on Sunday, including drawings of a girl with a gun, and written declarations of a desire to become "a martyr," attack soldiers and police officers, and take revenge for Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. "She said in her writings that she will carry out an attack and become a shaheed - a 'martyr,'" Tamir Abatbi, spokesman for the Negev Police, told The Jerusalem Post. "I have a great desire to die for Palestine... I have a great desire to die for Gaza," one of the messages penned by Basma read. The Education Ministry sent a special team to Basma's Amal Yitzhak Rabin High School in Hura on Sunday. Teachers were briefed on ways of identifying signals of distress and indoctrination among pupils, and how to respond to the warning signs. Ouda al-Nabari said he wasn't sure what to make of what happened on Saturday. "It's a very regrettable incident," he said from outside a tent for male guests near Basma's home. "We condemn all that happened." "We are very embarrassed by all that has happened. If this happened, we need to check with police and see who was behind this, who created this scandal... If I knew who was responsible, I would take him straight to the police station." But he said the family was not convinced that things occurred the way police described. They asked to see evidence that the girl had in fact carried a gun and fired it. If someone aided Basma or was behind the incident, they were "not from the family," Ouda Nabari insisted. He could not understand how Basma could have acquired a gun, or learned to shoot it. Perhaps someone connected to her high school or someone she contacted via the Internet had a hand in it, he said. "The Internet is a big problem today," he said. Or she might have gone crazy and acted on her own, "without anyone from the family knowing. "If only she wasn't killed and was caught by the police... she could have told them who pushed her to do all of this," he said. "It's a shame that she died." The few residents who were willing to say something about the terrorist attack committed on Saturday refused to give their names. "I think she was ill. Why else would she do something like this?" an elderly woman asked. She added that she did not know Basma or her family. "I don't know any more than you, not more than the newspaper," said a man working in a convenience store. "I don't have an opinion or anything," a middle-aged woman said hurriedly as she strolled outside with another woman. One boy, who appeared to be about 12, held a large stone up at a foreign journalist and threatened to throw it if she walked passed him on the street where the members of the Nabari clan live. "Get out of here," he screamed in a fit of rage. Ouda Nabari's son, Sharaiteh, said Basma was an excellent student and "very, very calm." "She would go from school to home and from home to school and that's it," he said. Contrary to police declarations, he charged that Basma was accidentally "shot in cold blood" and that police were trying to cover up the truth. As far as statements referring to being a martyr, he said "it was a poem that she had gotten from the Internet" or from a friend, and not something she herself had penned. "Yesterday, it was a student" who was killed by police, he said. "Tomorrow, it could be any one of us."