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Shiite Says He Was Blackmailed Into Driving Suicide Car Bomb

April 15, 1985

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ A 16-year-old Shiite Moslem captured by Israeli soldiers says he was coerced into trying to drive a suicide car bomb into an Israeli convoy in south Lebanon, and had no religious motives.

Mohammed Berrou, in a news conference with Israeli reporters broadcast on Israel Radio, said Sunday he was forced to accept the mission to get his father out of trouble.

Israeli authorities said the youth was captured with a Mercedes laden with 880 pounds of explosives during a raid Feb. 23 on the village of Sir al- Gharbiyeh northeast of the port city of Tyre.

Berrou told Israeli reporters his father, a policeman, had been in a traffic accident which injured the daughter of a prominent figure in Amal, the major Shiite militia.

He said he was approached by an Amal leader known as Abu Hassan who said his father would receive expensive medical treatment and the financial claim by the young woman’s family would be settled if Berrou undertook the mission. If he refused, Berrou said he was told, his family would suffer further.

Berrou said he worked as a firefighter in Amal’s civil guard in Beirut. But he said he had no contact with Islamic fundamentalists and no religious motivation to launch the attack.

″No, I am not religious,″ Berrou said on the radio in Arabic, which was translated into Hebrew. ″I had no religious motives, not for myself, not for my community, not because I am a Shiite. All that happened was that they repeated that I must go, I must go. So I went. That’s all.″

He also said: ″They told me that whoever carried out an act like this would enter paradise and become a saint. ... What could I say? I told them okay.″

Anti-Israeli guerrillas have launched at least eight suicide bombing attacks or attempts against Israeli soldiers occupying south Lebanon, including two in the past five weeks which killed 14 people.

On Nov. 4, 1983, a truck bomb attack on an Israeli post near Tyre killed 60 people, including 28 Israelis.

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and other Israeli officials had previously linked the car bomb attacks to Shiite religious fanaticism inspired by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The radio quoted Berrou as saying instructors showed him how to drive the car in which the explosives would be loaded, and told him all he needed to do was crash into an Israeli convoy and set off the explosives with two switches.

″They taught me more and more, just like they teach a small child how to speak. ... They took me to Zrariyeh in south Lebanon with someone called Nur. There they kissed me and hugged me and said, ‘Off you go, God will be with you.’ From there I continued with someone else called Malek to the village of Sir al-Gharbiyeh, where I was caught.″

Berrou said Amal militiamen who sent him on his mission told him he might survive the attack, since he would be wearing a flak jacket and there would be a heavy steel plate protecting him from the blast.

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