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Interviews of failed suicide bombers,
June 21, 2002 5:15 AM   Subscribe

Interviews of failed suicide bombers, by Israeli defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. Both Ben-Eliezer and two Palestinians, who (1) failed to and (2) opted not to detonate their bombs, talk about the motivations behind the current wave of attacks. Should prove interesting no matter which side of the Isreali-Palestinian conflict you stand on.
posted by astirling (24 comments total)

 
Speaking of suicide bombers, the movie, The Terrorist is an interesting look at a young girl who is chosen to be a suicde bomber. I highly recommend it.
posted by corpse at 6:03 AM on June 21, 2002


A shame we'll probably never know the fate of the girl. I suspect she will not find the mercy she's hoping for... and, in my opinion, she apparently deserves. She wouldn't even find it here in the States, and not just due to the current regime.

Hard times in a cold world; the law has abandoned justice with the complex human facets of undertanding and mercy; it has decayed to facility of inflexible punishment. Zero tolerance. It has the makings of an excellent novel; her turning away from her planned crime only a false denouement. She now must face prosecution for the crime of thinking about doing evil. Her ultimately humane judgement will now cost her years in prison.
posted by Perigee at 6:31 AM on June 21, 2002


Perigee, I appreciate the need for mercy, but what would you suggest be done to someone who came a hair's breath from blowing up a park full of backgammon-players? Let her go?
posted by Marquis at 6:54 AM on June 21, 2002


Marquis, honest question:
Can you lock someone up for thinking of killing somebody? In the US or Europe I doubt that this could lead to a conviction, but then again I really don't know.
posted by talos at 7:04 AM on June 21, 2002


There is the "attempted murder" charge, although perhaps this only applies if you tried to do it and failed, rather than deciding at the last minute not to. But there is definitely a difference between simply thinking of killing someone, and actually planning it out, and only stalling at the last moment. Presumably you could be charged for that?
posted by chrismear at 7:09 AM on June 21, 2002


I find it interesting that Ben-Eliezer admitted that the Palestinians were imbued with a sense of hopelessness against Israel, but talked about it as though the actions of Israel did not contribute to that hopelessness. That's one stone cold guy.
posted by timyang at 7:15 AM on June 21, 2002


Conspiracy to commit murder is definitely a crime. On a side note, charging someone with conspiracy to murder has to default to a charge of first-degree murder if the conspiracy is successful [source]. The elements of a conspiracy, namely, the deliberation and premeditation inherent in planning to kill someone disqualifies a second-degree murder charge, which requires the perpetrator to have little or no intent.

Also interesting is this page, which says that to convict a person of both conspiracy to commit murder and homicide, and using the same facts to prove each crime, is double jeopardy.
posted by thewittyname at 7:30 AM on June 21, 2002


I see what you're getting at Talos; every time I think over the incident, I go through the same thought process:

1) She went to blow people up. --> Okay. Crime.
2) She decided not to and went home. --> Um. Oh. Er?

I guess it relates to conspiracy, or towards conspiring against the country. But then, she dropped out. Is she still guilty of something? She didn't turn herself in...

My gut reaction is -- yes, she committed a crime by agreeing to blow people up, and then going to do so. It's not at all the same crime as following-through, and yet I can't quite imagine letting her go as if nothing happened.
posted by Marquis at 7:42 AM on June 21, 2002


Conspiracy of this sort has to be a crime. Think of it this way: if she hadnt' agreed to do it, her handlers would have had to keep looking for another person to help with the bombing, and they might have been caught in the process. As it was, she agreed, and the bombing went ahead. She backed out of her part in the bombing at the last moment, but without her prior participation in the conspiracy, there might have been no bombing that day.

She's guilty of a crime.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:48 AM on June 21, 2002


peeping_Thomist: if she hadnt' agreed to do it, her handlers would have had to keep looking for another person to help with the bombing, and they might have been caught in the process.
Or they might have found someone who wouldn't have backed down... in which case she prevented a crime from being commited. This is not a simple case at all.
posted by talos at 7:59 AM on June 21, 2002


Talos: You rightly point out that she may have prevented a crime from being committed. But that doesn't alter the fact that she committed a crime herself. It might (and probably should) make a jury more lenient in sentencing her, but there's no question about whether or not she committed a crime. (If I'm robbing a bank with someone, and prevent them from murdering the clerk, I've prevented a crime and also committed a crime.)

To decide the appropriate punishment is not a simple matter at all, I agree. But the question of whether she committed a crime is quite simple: she conspired to commit murder, and that's a crime.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:11 AM on June 21, 2002


Marquis: Surely no punishment will deter other suicide bombers. It seems to me that there should be an incentive for people considering acts of terrorism (who have valuable knowledge, in some cases) to turn themselves in. Severely Punishing those that do doesn't sound like a good way to do that.
posted by Doug at 9:43 AM on June 21, 2002


a lot of states have a defense called "abandonment" which defendants can use to defend themselves against an attempted murder claim by showing that even though they intended to commit the crime, they later had a change of heart. However, it is nearly impossible to actually win an abandonment defense because you have to prove that you changed your mind because you recognized the evil of what you were planning to do as opposed to, say, just being worried that you might get caught or because you were afraid of death. very difficult to prove.

as for the larger question, the point at which evil thoughts become attempted murder is generally thought of as the point at which the individual makes the choice to go through with the crime. This is pretty hard to determine, but that's what the law tries to do by using all sorts of proxies (how close are they to the crime scene? do they have the weapons/equipment on them? etc). it seems pretty clear that we can't just say that you are not guilty of a crime until after you kill someone since the whole point is to prevent murders from happening in the first place.
posted by boltman at 9:52 AM on June 21, 2002


Marquis, honest question:
Can you lock someone up for thinking of killing somebody? In the US or Europe I doubt that this could lead to a conviction, but then again I really don't know.
posted by talos at 7:04 AM PST on June 21

You can if you're Tom Cruise
posted by mecran01 at 9:58 AM on June 21, 2002


Well, the concept of conspiracy definitely sticks; as I said, she couldn't escape jail time even here, and I have to guess that Israel has an even harsher set of laws to deal with terrorist conspiracies.

Still, she's a tragedy - its easy enough to understand how a young kid could get caught up in a web like that, given the area and its passions. She turned back from the brink, stepped away from the deed, and now is going to get crushed under the cogs of the law. Essentially, she was doomed one way or another from the time she rashly decided to join that cause. Now, she doesn't even get the big gift-box of prizes in the next life.

Someone remind me again what it is about organized religious thought that is a good idea.... ~sigh~
posted by Perigee at 11:30 AM on June 21, 2002


Someone remind me again what it is about organized religious thought that is a good idea... Extremists who pervert religion and use it as a tool to further hatred are not representative of that religion; it happens all the time with all religions and philosophies but it is the perversionists who are to be condemed, not the religions, which is one very good reason people need the tools to study their religious texts themselves rather than being told what they say.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:17 PM on June 21, 2002


Perigee- You get 70 virigins in heaven! And an X-Box! But only if you strap on a bomb and destroy the body that God gave you, and incidentally those of a bunch of other people you don't know anything about too and don't harbor any particular ill feelings for. Didn't you get the memo?
posted by gsteff at 1:02 PM on June 21, 2002


(D'oh, sorry for linking to the original post's link, my bad)
posted by gsteff at 1:04 PM on June 21, 2002


Are those virgins a one time deal, or are they continuously refreshed as they lose that new car smell?
posted by Perigee at 1:53 PM on June 21, 2002


). it seems pretty clear that we can't just say that you are not guilty of a crime until after you kill someone since the whole point is to prevent murders from happening in the first place.

You had me until here. I always thought the whole point was to punish lawbreakers.
posted by rushmc at 2:07 PM on June 21, 2002


rush: well, if you're walking up to the front door of the bank, gun in hand, with the getaway driver sitting in the car with the engine running, it seems like the cops should be able to arrest you (and charge you) before you walk into the bank and start shooting up the place rather than after, no?

again, once you've made the choice to commit the crime, you're in the realm of criminal culpability, even though the harm hasn't been done yet. since it's just about impossible to directly prove whether someone made a decisive choice to commit the crime or was just considering the possibility of committing the crime, the law attempts to use proxies to determine whether a true choice was made. the actual legal tests vary from state to state and can be somewhat complicated, but, like nearly all crimes, the prosecutor needs to prove a mental state and an act. in the case of our suicide bomber, the mental state necessary would probably be intent to kill people. The act necessary would probably be a "substantial step" toward the commission of the crime. there's just no question that strapping a bomb to yourself would constitute a substantial step. there also seems to be plenty of evidence of intent (although there is the "abandonment" issue i mentioned above). I don't think there is any question that she would get attempted murder anywhere in the States

I have to admit that the fact that she's a young and obviously misguided girl makes attempted murder seem overly harsh to me. It hard not to feel really sorry for her. but from a cold legal perspective, she's guilty as sin.
posted by boltman at 6:47 PM on June 21, 2002


This is obviously a very emotional article, thick with rhetoric and distortion, etc. But all the cases in it are true. A Palestinian girl really was sentanced for 12 months for 'intent' to harm a settler. So it is well established in law (Israeli at least, others I'm sure as well) that you can be arrested and imprisoned for your intent.
posted by chaz at 12:20 PM on June 22, 2002


rush: well, if you're walking up to the front door of the bank, gun in hand, with the getaway driver sitting in the car with the engine running, it seems like the cops should be able to arrest you (and charge you) before you walk into the bank and start shooting up the place rather than after, no?

No. They should be able to arrest you for violation of any applicable gun laws, and perhaps ticket you for doubleparking, but that's IT because that's all you've DONE.
posted by rushmc at 9:33 AM on June 24, 2002


the bank patrons would probably see it differently
posted by boltman at 5:58 PM on June 28, 2002


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