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On the day of the attack, Tamimi escorted Al-Masri to the restaurant. In an attempt to pass inconspicuously as tourists, Tamimi and Al-Masri were dressed as Westerners and spoke English as they made their way by taxi from Ramallah into Jewish West Jerusalem.
When Tamimi dropped Al-Masri off at Sbarro’s, the human bomb then made his way into the restaurant carrying an explosive hidden inside a guitar case and packed with nails and screws to maximize the destruction.
Then, once the blast was detonated, Tamimi, who was working then as a broadcaster on Palestinian television, nonchalantly made her way past the carnage to her news station where she announced the attack on that afternoon’s broadcast, careful to not mention her own role in the assault.
However, in the ensuing years after her arrest on September 14, 2001, Tamimi was only more than happy to detail her role in the murderous act.
That fact was chillingly on display in a documentary made on Palestinian prisoners, in which Tamimi was asked whether she knew how many children had been killed in the Sbarro suicide attack. While she acknowledged that the exact number was unknown to her, when informed that eight children had died, Tamimi just smiled.
However, in a 2006 interview with an Israeli newspaper, Tamimi was more vocal about her feelings on her role in the suicide bombing when she declared:
Hamas has principles in connection with discussion with Israel. Hamas wants to reach accomplishments without giving up on Palestine. I’m not sorry for what I did. I will get out of prison and I refuse to recognize Israel’s existence. Discussions will only take place after Israel recognizes that this is Islamic land. Despite the fact that I’m sentenced to 16 life sentences I know that we will become free from Israeli occupation and then I will also be free from the prison.
Unfortunately, Tamimi’s belief proved prophetic, as today she is not only free but celebrated as a hero in Jordan. That sad fact was clearly evident when Tamimi was greeted upon her return to Jordan by hundreds of supporters waving Palestinian flags and Hamas banners at the Amman airport.
Of course, the crowd’s reaction should cause little surprise given that many Palestinians have a special fondness for those involved in the Sbarro massacre. After all, six weeks after the deadly blast, a triumphal exhibit at Al Najah University in the West Bank featured a model of Sbarro’s including a special feature of chewed pizza crusts and bloody plastic body parts suspended from the ceiling as if they were blasting through the air.
While Tamimi openly thanked the joyous welcoming crowd for its support, she was quick to point out that not all was well as some of her terrorist compatriots still remained behind bars in Israeli jails:
The message of the Palestinian people is: liberate Palestine and the Aqsa Mosque. By Allah Ibrahim Hamed, Mahmoud Isa, Hasan Salameh, Abu Al-Heija and Al-Barghouthi are more deserving to be in my place [free].
So, while Tamimi may feel pain at not being reunited with some of her terrorist brethren, all is not gloom in her life. According to her father, Arif Tamimi, Ahlam is looking forward to her upcoming marriage to a released prisoner from the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap.
Unlike the victims of Sbarro’s whose lives were terminally interrupted by a suicide bomb tearing their bodies apart, for Ahlam Tamimi, life goes merrily on.
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