Palestinians: Bulldozer killers sought vindication

Sources say terrorists wanted to "cleanse" reputation marred by criminal past.

Dwayat 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
Dwayat 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
The two bulldozer terrorists who carried out the recent attacks in the capital were driven by a desire to "cleanse" their reputations because of their involvement in crime, Palestinian sources said Wednesday. The sources said they did not rule out the possibility that Hussam Taysir Dwayat, 30, from Sur Bahir and Ghassan Abu Tir, 22, from nearby Umm Tuba, were seeking to rehabilitate their reputations by attacking Israelis. Both neighborhoods are in southeastern Jerusalem. The sources said they saw a common thread running through the backgrounds of the bulldozer operators. Prior to their deaths, both Dwayat and Abu Tir had been treated by their communities (and to a certain extent by their clans) as undesirables. Dwayat, who carried out the first attack on July 2, had lived in his neighborhood with a Jewish woman even though he was never married to her. He was also known as a drug addict who had spent time in prison for rape. Abu Tir, the bulldozer driver in Tuesday's attack, also had a criminal record and was reputed to have been involved with drugs and theft. According to the sources, both men apparently came under pressure from radical elements to do something to restore their "honor" and "cleanse" their reputations. Ala Abu Dhaim, the man from the capital's Jebl Mukaber neighborhood who went on a shooting spree at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in March, had also been dubbed by some of his neighbors as a "petty criminal." In the conservative Arab culture, when an individual is involved in a crime, he is often accused of having disgraced not only himself, but his entire clan. The sources did not rule out the possibility that Muslim fundamentalists linked to Hamas or the men's relatives had pushed them to carry out the attacks as part of a plan aimed at "cleansing" their names. There is also the possibility that the men volunteered to carry out the attacks in a personal initiative to transform themselves into heroes in the eyes of their families and friends. "Obviously, these young men were under immense pressure because they had bad reputations," the sources said. "In such cases, it's better to die as a shaheed [martyr] than to live as a drug trafficker or a thief or a rapist." During the first and second intifadas, various Palestinian groups succeeded in recruiting Palestinian criminals to carry out terrorist attacks. These criminals included thieves, rapists and drug dealers. Other Palestinians who were not directly involved in crime but had earned bad reputations also ended up being dispatched to kill Israelis. Among them were men and women who had been accused of "collaboration" with Israel or "immoral" behavior. In one case, a woman who was accused of adultery was recruited by Hamas to carry out a suicide bombing inside Israel. "These people are usually the most vulnerable," a source close to the investigation of the last terrorist attacks in Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post. "They live in a society that shows zero tolerance toward crime. Many of them are even disowned by their families, a factor that exacerbates their predicament."