(Updated May 2002)
On July 23, 2002, Israeli forces killed Salah Shehade
, commander of the operational wing of the terrorist organization Hamas
. Following are portions of an interview conducted with Shehade two months earlier.
How to Choose a Martyr
Q: "How do you choose who will carry out
a martyrdom operation?"
Shehade: "The choice is made according
to four criteria: First, devout religious observance. Second, we verify
that the young man complies with his parents' wishes and is loved by
his family, and that his martyrdom will not [adversely] affect family
life -- that is, he is not the head of the family and he has siblings,
as we will not take an only child. Third, his ability to carry out the
task assigned [to] him, and to understand its gravity; and fourth, his
martyrdom should encourage others to carry out martyrdom operations
and encourage Jihad in the hearts of people. We always prefer unmarried
Seeking Martyrdom Shows Mental
Q: "How do you account for the stream of
youths [coming] to join the ranks of perpetrators of martyrdom operations?
And does this attest to [mental] health or to escape from the frustration
and disappointment among the Palestinians?"
Shehade: "The stream of youths [who seek
to] attain martyrdom shows [mental] health and the awareness of Palestinian
society, and is not a mistake or an escape from a situation of despair
or frustration. Many people come to Jihad, and they are willing to lay
down their souls -- which is the most precious thing a man has. There
is a vast difference between someone who sacrifices money or an offering
and someone who sacrifices his soul for the sake of Allah to bring happiness
to the nation, and to remove its torment and distress. Nevertheless,
we cannot provide everyone with a martyrdom operation because the targets
are limited and the enemy positions we want to reach are highly fortified.
If some of the youths do not follow the military apparatus's instructions,
and [set out on operations on their own] without being linked officially
to this apparatus, this proves that the [entire] nation has become a
nation of Jihad on the threshold of liberation, and that it rejects
humiliation and submission."
How to Choose a Target
Q: "How does the military apparatus choose
Shehade: "We have surveillance groups
whose role is to monitor Israeli and settler patrols and the movement
of the enemy on the border. We utilize every breach we find in the enemy's
security fence. Afterwards we define the target and the nature of the
assault on it, whether it is a settlement, a military post, a military
vehicle, or anything else. The target is filmed, and then [the video]
is shown to a committee appointed by the General Staff of the Military
Operations. After the target is approved, the martyrdom operation's
perpetrator is trained... Then the operation is ready to go, after a
group of experts approves the plan and determines the factors for its
success or failure."
If We Kill an Israeli Child It Is
Q: "What about killing Israeli citizens?"
Shehade: "We do not target children, the
elderly, and places of worship, although these places of worship incite
to murdering Muslims. Similarly, we have not targeted schools, because
we do not give orders to kill children. The same goes for hospitals,
although this is easy for us, and attainable. We act according to the
principles of Jihad to which we adhere. Our motto is: 'We are not fighting
the Jews because they are Jews, but because they occupy our land. We
are not fighting them because of their religion but because they have
usurped our land. If we kill a child it is not intentional...'"
Sources: Salah Shehade interview by Islam
Online, May 29, 2002
Excerpted and translated by the Middle
East Media Research Institute